With just over a week to go until the big day, the majority of UK homes should be looking pretty festive by now. Mine looks like a mashup of one of RuPaul’s dresses and the set of Bladerunner thanks to the sudden explosion of colours and lights that hit you when you come in. Fancy.
Making your home feel festive is part and parcel of the whole Christmas experience and, due to the nature of this year’s super-condensed holiday break, every little bit of festive cheer is welcome.
However, according to lettings management platform, Howsy, if you live in a rental property, it’s worth doing your homework before you get carried away as it could cost you once the festive dust has settled and you return to real life in January.
Calum Brannan, founder and CEO of Howsy, explains: “As a nation we love Christmas and it seems as if the tree goes up earlier every year, but it’s important to remember that as a tenant, you still need to abide by the rules of your tenancy agreement. If you don’t, you could be liable for additional costs to return the property to its original state.”
How’s it hanging?
One minor detail that often trips up many tenants is the fact they simply aren’t allowed to hang anything from the walls and most tenancy agreements will specifically restrict you from doing so. This is largely to stop people from drilling to hang pictures but also includes fixing things without screws or nails.
Even sticky tape or blue tack can remove paint or plaster and leave the wall needing a new lick of paint or some degree of repair, and this can increase void periods for landlords while they set it straight, with the bill often sent the way of the tenant or deducted from their deposit.
Many rental properties will come with picture rails or other points to which you can attach your Christmas decorations but if you aren’t sure, ask your landlord. While they have every right to refuse any changes, they will more than likely let you go ahead. But remember, you are responsible for returning the property back to its original state and any costs required to do so will sit with you.
What can I do?
Just because you’re in a rental property it doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate in style and Howsy has put together a few tips to keep all involved happy during the holidays and beyond.
Even getting the tree in the door can scratch walls, damage floorboards or carpet and leave a mess come the New Year. Go for a realistically sized one for your rental property or get yourself a reasonably sized artificial one, but just make sure it’s fire retardant. Always keep it away from a heat source to be double sure it won’t catch fire when you’re not around.
Not only will you be doing your bit for the environment, but paper decorations also look great, bring a traditional feel to your home and won’t stain, melt or discolour the wall.
There are a few products on the market that promise not to leave a mark on walls when removing them, but rather than risk it, look to hang decorations from curtain rails or items of furniture that you own yourself. While a little more time consuming, use thread or fishing wire to attach your decorations so that you can easily cut it away when its time for them to come down.
Always avoid blue tack or sticky tape as it can damage the wall and never hang anything in the kitchen or over the cooker or any other open-source of heat. Fireplaces look pretty festive when covered in decorations but can be deadly should your tinsel become unattached and fall into the flames.
Lights and electricals
Lights are a great way to decorate without leaving a mark but remember if it is outside the house to make it tasteful to avoid any complaints from neighbours. If it’s inside, make sure they are fairly new and meet safety regulations to avoid potential fire threats. Don’t leave them on overnight and don’t overload plug sockets with multiple sets.
It’s a good idea to always place your tree or lights close to a plug socket in the first place to avoid the temptation of extension cords and don’t have them running underneath rugs or carpet if you do have to use one.
Check your insurance
Some festive fire damage can be a worst-case scenario for you and your landlord and in the most tragic cases can cause loss of life. Believe it or not, some insurers won’t pay out if the cause is decorative lights so check you have the best cover possible.
Calum concludes: “It might seem a bit Scrooge-like to be so hard on hanging decorations but there’s a good reason for it. When we’re tearing down decorations with a sore head on the first of January the last thing we’re thinking is about protecting the walls or ceilings, especially if we are moving on to a new property as is often the case with tenants following Christmas.
“However, after an expensive festive period and with a long January ahead, the last thing you need is for your deposit to be eaten up with additional charges to bring the place back up to standard, so it’s well worth thinking about before rather than after and doing what you can to minimise any damage.
“At the end of the day, landlords are people too and so if you have the courtesy to consult them with any plans before you put them into action, you will find that 99.99% of the time they are more than willing to let you go ahead and may even have advice on the best route in doing so, having been there before themselves.”