DIY Fixes: What Tenants Can and Cannot Do

Maintaining your rental property is essential for comfortable living and to avoid conflicts with your landlord. However, knowing what repairs and modifications you can handle yourself and which ones require professional help is crucial.

What Tenants Can Do

Minor repairs and routine maintenance tasks are generally within a tenant’s purview. For example, changing light bulbs and replacing batteries in smoke detectors are simple fixes you can easily manage. If you encounter a minor clog in the sink or bathtub, using a plunger or a drain cleaner is usually acceptable. Additionally, you can handle basic lawn care tasks like mowing the grass and watering plants if you have a yard.

When it comes to cosmetic changes, tenants often have a bit more freedom, but it’s important to avoid permanent alterations. Hanging pictures or lightweight shelves using non-damaging hooks or adhesives is usually fine. Installing or replacing curtains and blinds can also be done without significant issues. However, for anything more permanent or potentially damaging, you should always seek your landlord’s permission.

What Tenants Cannot Do

There are clear boundaries regarding what tenants should not attempt on their own. Structural changes, such as removing walls or making major renovations to kitchens or bathrooms, are strictly off-limits without professional help and landlord approval. Electrical and plumbing work, such as rewiring or fixing leaks, must also be left to qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with building codes. Additionally, installing fixtures like ceiling fans or major appliances often requires professional installation and explicit permission from your landlord.

It’s also crucial to avoid making any permanent changes without approval. Repainting walls or replacing flooring should be discussed with your landlord first. Landlords typically prefer to manage these modifications themselves or hire professionals to ensure the work is done correctly and uniformly across their properties.

Seeking Permission

Before undertaking any significant repairs or modifications, always communicate with your landlord. This not only helps prevent potential conflicts but also ensures the work is up to code and safely executed. Maintaining a good relationship with your landlord is essential for a harmonious tenancy.


In summary, while tenants can handle some DIY fixes, it’s important to know your limits and seek permission and professional help for more significant repairs and modifications. By adhering to these guidelines, you can keep your rental property in good condition and avoid unnecessary complications.

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