Allowing tenants to paint may seem harmless. Painting is one of the most common home improvements but doing it well is harder than most people think. More often than not, issues arise when tenants are allowed to paint. If you receive a request from your tenant, how should you respond and is allowing tenants to paint your rental property a good idea?
Something to think about
The first thing you should consider is the condition of your rental property prior to renting; is it freshly painted? If so what color?
With rental properties, clean and functional is the way to go, meaning that as long as the place is clean and everything works as it should, you will not have trouble renting it to quality tenants.
If the interior walls of your rental property have a fresh coat of a neutral color paint that most people would find acceptable, there’s less of chance you would even receive a request to paint.
If walls are riddled with holes, are dirty or are painted in colors that won’t appeal to a majority of people, it would be best to address that prior to placing the house on the rental market.
To paint or not to paint?
YOUR rental property however, is impeccable — painted in a perfect neutral grey with white trim you picked out yourself. What if despite your admirable design acumen your tenants still request to paint?
There are three typical answers landlords give on allowing tenants to paint your rental property:
- “Sure, why not?”
- “No way, never.”
- “Yes but with conditions.”
There are way too many pitfalls in giving your tenants free reign. These are just a few;
- Choosing unique and unpopular colors
- Getting paint on the ceiling, trim and floor
- Using incorrect technique — there are nuances to painting
- Using the wrong paint
Issues typically arise at move-out when tenants are more concerned about their new place. Moving is stressful, so repainting the old rental property becomes a low priority for people and rarely gets done or done poorly. Moreover, painting is time consuming, requires attention to detail and is not as easy at it looks. For most landlords this shouldn’t be an option, so let’s move on to number 2.
Not allowing tenants to paint
A flat out “no” sounds harsh but in can be justified by explaining to the tenants why;
I can appreciate you wanting to paint the interior a different color, and I want nothing more than for you to truly make it your home. Feel free to accent with wall art but changing the paint color will place a large burden on you to return the property to its original state at move-out. In my experience, it’s better for both of us to leave the paint as-is. I would be happy to repaint if a considerable amount of time goes by. I hope the color I selected works for you and that you love your new home and stay for a long time.”
A compromise, kind of
Another option is to allow the tenants to paint as long as the tenants cover the cost. Additionally you can require tenants to hire a professional you approve of. This will ensure the job gets done correctly. Tenants would likely decide to spend the money on new furniture instead of repainting. The way you word it is important;
I can appreciate you wanting to paint the interior a different color and I want nothing more than for you to truly make it your home. I would be happy to approve painting the property a different color as long as it’s a color I approve and that it’s completed by my licensed vendor. He can provide you with an estimate. For reference, he charged me $x,xxx.xx for the job he did recently.
Unfortunately, because of possible damages associated with painting I am not able to authorize painting by someone other than my licensed vendor. I hope you can appreciate these stipulations since alternate options place a considerable amount of liability on tenants and in my experience it’s best to use a professional I approve of. If you are happy with the color I selected, I’d be happy to repaint after several years. I hope that you love your new home and stay for a long time.”
So allowing tenants to paint your rental property, yes or no?
It’s true that situations are different but it’s hard to argue with the overwhelming number of tenant and landlord issues that arise from allowing tenants to paint. Most of the time it’s simply best to leave things as they are. Happy renting!
Pedro Cedeño, Lic. Real Estate Agent, Real Property Management Dade – Miami, FL | My team and I are here to make it easy and profitable to own rental property in Miami by focusing on the people and not just the buildings. We love to see the positive effect good rental practices have on people. Sharing the knowledge we’ve gained over the years with current and aspiring landlords is part of our mission.