Should I Allow Tenants to Paint My Rental Property?

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should you allow tenants to paint your property

Have your tenants asked for permission to paint your rental?

There are many possible reasons why your tenants are asking to repaint your rental’s walls. One of the common scenarios is that the landlord has opted only for neutral colors like white and gray. While these colors are unlikely to upset anyone, some people may find these dull enough to warrant a new paint job.

You may find yourself facing a significant dilemma. Agreeing to a paint job comes with a set of risks, including low-quality results. Though, when you disagree with your tenants, you face the possibility of losing valuable renters.

In this article, we’re taking a look at your main options when it comes to tenants wanting a new coat of paint in their living quarters. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of each approach that you can take in these situations.

Say Yes

The easiest way out of the situation is just agreeing with your tenants’ request to paint the rental property. However, the easiest avenue to take may not be the smartest one. Saying yes without any conditions carries significant risks.

For some landlords, agreeing and taking that risk has worked out fine. Their properties have gotten a new coat of paint for free. The tenants have thought about the whole design solution, making the new color choices harmonious with the rest of the rental’s interior look.

On the other hand, you could end up with poor workmanship that results in a sloppy final result. There’s always this risk unless your tenants are qualified interior painters.

saying yes to tenants repainting

Taking that risk could make sense if your rental property is in a difficult market, and your current tenants are great. Agreeing to the repainting may foster a long-term relationship that will lead to plenty of lease renewals.

Say a Conditional Yes

Immediately agreeing to the paint job can be balanced with a few conditions on your part. This means that your tenants can still paint the property, but they have to adhere to the guidelines that you have set out beforehand.

For starters, you could agree on the appropriate color choices before any paint touches the walls. You don’t want to see a surprising color scheme you would have never authorized in the first place.

Check if charging a repainting fee is illegal in your locality or state. If it isn’t, you may do so as a cost for updating the interior look. That fee is going to reimburse the paint removal and repainting costs once your tenant’s lease has ended.

You also have the option to set clear boundaries regarding the surfaces allowed to be painted in your rental. For example, it would make sense to forbid your tenants from painting any woodwork.

To get great results, they would have to use the correct techniques. Unless they have extensive experience in wood painting, it’s better not to take that risk.

Say No

As a landlord, you can always tell your renters that you disagree with their proposal. Even though your tenants might not love the colors inside your rental, it doesn’t necessarily warrant repainting activities on their part.

While your message may be clear, you can still choose how you communicate this message. Being polite and friendly is the best approach. Explain calmly why you prefer not to have the interior repainted.

say no in a calm manner

However, you need to keep in mind that your tenants may propose to use renter’s wallpaper in place of painting the rental. This type of wallpaper supposedly leaves no marks after removal. Plenty of stories circle around the web that proves this rumor otherwise.

It’s recommended to check what type of renter’s wallpaper they’re proposing to use. The quality depends on its manufacturer. Check the relevant online reviews before authorizing your tenants to use removable wallpaper.

When Do Landlords Have to Paint Their Rentals?

You may now wonder whether there are any scenarios for which you must paint your rental. In fact, most states and local governments have no rules that would have you paint the rental.

There are some exceptions, though. In New York City, the local guidelines say that you have to repaint the walls every three years. Check with the local authorities to see whether there are similar stipulations in your area.

The property must be kept habitable for your tenants. If the paint renders the rental unsanitary, it becomes an issue. Then you do have to repaint the walls and make that property healthy to live in again.

Another thing to consider is lead-based paint. Your renters may request the removal of paint containing lead and to repaint the walls. This isn’t about aesthetics, but rather, a health and safety issue.

What About Unauthorized Paint Jobs?

You could discover that your renters have painted the rental without permission. In this case, your lease agreement should contain relevant clauses that outlaw such actions and carry consequences to your tenants who broke these rules.

if tenants paint without permission, consequences should be listed in agreement

When your renters have overstepped the terms of your agreement, you are likely to have the right to deduct the paint removal and repainting expenses from the security deposit. However, you may lose this right if they restore the walls back to the same condition as before.

The Bottom Line: Allowing Tenants to Paint My Rental Property

Not all tenants are going to like your rental’s interior color design. While most people would walk away, some are going to sign a lease and then ask to repaint the walls. In such cases, you have three major options:

  • Politely disagree and explain the reasons behind your resolution
  • Say yes without any conditions and accept the risk of substandard work
  • Agree with certain conditions like a repainting fee (if legal) and pre-approval of colors used