Tenants Redecorating the Rental – What Should The Landlord Do?

Property Management Blog

Renting a house comes with many surprises, and one of those many surprises is the color of the walls. You love the whole house, but it's painted in a green shade so bad that you can't help but close your eyes when you enter the house. We might be exaggerating, but to a certain degree, this happens.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself leasing a house for a year with your least favorite color on every wall, how gruesome would it feel to wake up every day to the most unwelcoming and uncomfortable surrounding. As a landlord, you don't have to face the same situation, but your tenants do. And you must also get a lot of requests to change the house's current color or let the tenant do. At the end of the day, however, the decision lies with you.

The above scenario was painted to help you, the landlord, understand that badly painted walls are a sour point for many tenants. Given a chance, they would love to paint the walls in a color that will make the house look welcoming, bright as well as cozy. However, as a landlord, it's hard to decide whether to give the tenant the freedom to paint the walls or not. So, here's our guide to tackle this situation like a pro.

Painting Laws For Landlords:

So, here's the thing, no state has clear laws except for New York regarding whether the landlord is responsible for repainting the walls or pay for it if the tenants are requesting. In New York, the landlord is obliged to pay for the paint every three years.

However, if you have just painted your walls and a tenant moves in and wants to repaint the wall in a color of their choice, it's pretty clear that you are under no obligation to pay for the paint.

Landlord's Rights Regarding Wall Paint:

As a landlord, the ball is in your court when it comes to painting or repainting the walls; you can reject and deny your tenants this request without any consequences. However, there are certain conditions when you can't decline their request to paint the walls. These are:

  • If there is paint damage that makes the rental property inhabitable
  • You live in New York City, and the walls haven't been painted for three years straight
  • You have lead-based paint on your walls, and the tenants need to change that ASAP

To Allow The Tenants To Paint The Walls Or Not:

Here comes the big question, should you allow your tenants to paint the walls of your property or not? This isn't the end of the world, and there is no right answer to this question. There are tons of scenarios, and every scenario has a different outcome; hence the answer keeps changing. You should always treat the wishes of your tenants with respect. Nonetheless, when it comes to making changes to the rental property, you need to tread carefully. However, you don't need to worry, just check out the following questions and answer them as honestly. The answers will help you come to a decision.

  • How your relationship with the current tenants is? Are you willing to have them for the long term?
  • Is your rental up-to-date with modern paint and touches?
  • What kind of changes is the tenant demanding?
  • Do you have enough time to keep the whole process under check?
  • Will your tenant change the color back to its original state when they move out?

It's not a big deal to allot the changes; however, you need to make sure that the color changes they are opting for will not make the house look weird or comical. You need to keep the whole thing under your control. If the tenant is willing to go with your rules, there is no harm in letting them change the color of the walls, especially if it leads to a long term tenancy. Here's how you can lessen the risks that come when you allow the tenants to paint the walls.

How to Alleviate the Risks

Add a Paint Clause in the Lease Agreement:

The smartest way to lessen the risks is to add a written and comprehensive clause regarding the 'paint-the-walls' policy in the lease agreement. Clearly state whether the tenant can or cannot change the paint and if they can, who will be responsible for the cost. This is a practical move that will keep you from any conflicts as well as misunderstandings in the future.

Painting Contract:

Adding clauses in the rental agreement may be a bit too much for the tenants. If you feel the same way, you can always draw up an exclusive painting agreement and have all parties sign it. Agree on terms and write them down, make copies and get is signed. Since it's a mutual agreement, no tenant will refuse.

Set Strict Limits:

Apart from clauses and agreements, you can also set limits. Just let your tenants know which colors are acceptable and which aren't. You can veto changes that are too big to digest and let them know that you are good with minor changes only. Let them know that they have to bear the cost, and they also need to take your permission if they are looking to make even minor changes in the rental.

Always Have a Upper Hand

Even when the tenant is making change, the property is yours; you should be the one in control. Ensure that your agreement states that you will be in control should the tenant decide to change anything around the rental property. This ensures that nothing goes amiss, and your property is protected against any mishap or sloppy results of the tenant's imagination.


This is the most important step; your state doesn't require you to paint the walls to pay for the paint unless you are in NYC. So, make sure that your tenant doesn't bully you into paying for the paint. Whether you pay or not, it's totally up to you, but it's a fact that listening to the tenants can make them stay with you longer. So, make the smart choice and keep your tenants sweet.

If you’d like to talk more about property management, or you need help with Everest Property Management, please contact us at Everest Realty.

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