Use tenant deposit to repaint all walls or just patches

15 Replies

My tenant did several marks on the walls that cannot be removed. If I have a painter do some patches, even if there are skilled, we will see a slight difference of color.

Can I use the tenant deposit to repaint all the apartment? Or legally I should deduct only what's needed for the local patches?

You should repaint between tenants anyway and you can charge them for repairs but not the whole repaint since it is normal wear and tear that you have to paint. That being said if you do completely repaint charge a percentage to them that corresponds to the damage so only the patching etc.

Color Match the best you absolutely can and do that 1 wall. Corner to corner, floor or trim to ceiling. You won't see "touch up spots" and you don't have to spend time/money re-doing the whole room. If you doubt your skills, use painters tape to help you.


Beautiful Homes & Pretty Property

It depends how long the tenant was there.

What you describe is NOT normal wear and tear.

And it not always normal wear and tear to repaint between tenants.

You can use your best judgment as to whether a repaint would have been necesarry anyway.

The length of time the tenant lived in a place and the time the paint/carpet ect was installed has a bearing on this as well.

I don't LL in CA, so I'm not sure on specifics, but I believe that paint has been determined to have a 3 year life expectancy. So if the tenant moved in 2 years ago you can only charge for 1/3 of the cost as 2/3 was "normal wear" unless it was obvious damage.

Paint can be kind of a tricky one since wear and tear vs damage is a little more difficult to establish, it's not like having a burn mark or permanent stain in carpet. The newer the paint was when they moved in I'd feel more confident of shifting more of the cost to the tenant for damage, as opposed to if it's a 10 y/o paint job you'd have a hard battle to say you as the LL didn't get the full expected life of the paint due to tenant damage.

Originally posted by @Marc Dufour :

I have new applicants that say they want to move in only if it is entirely repainted.

IMO this has nothing to do with determining whether or not you can just touch up the paint or need to repaint. This is a purely personal decision for you on whether you are willing to go to those lengths to secure these tenants or not.

The decision on how much you can charge for the damage done is based on what it takes to correct that damage. If you decide to do more based on what your new tenants want, then that is an expense for you and absolutely is not something your prior tenant should bear.

Was the paint new when they moved in 15 months ago?

What your current applicants want matters to you, in determining whether you want to repaint at your own expense. It has no bearing on whether the "marks" you describe are actually damage.

If the marks are just a few scuffs that happen in any home (from moving furniture, a shoe rubbing against a wall, etc.), that's normal wear and tear. If the marks are massive crayon drawings from a child or there are significant holes (more than just a few nail holes for pictures), for example, that's not normal wear and tear.

Have you read the CA landlord tenant handbook from the Dept of Consumer Affairs? They have a section regarding a reasonable way to charge a tenant for repainting:

3. repainting walls

one approach for determining the amount that the landlord can deduct from the tenant’s security deposit for repainting, when repainting is necessary, is based on the length of the tenant’s stay in the rental unit. this approach assumes that interior paint has a two-year life. (some landlords assume that interior paint has a life of three years or more.)

length of stay: deduction

less than 6 months: full cost

6 months to 1 year: two-thirds of cost

1 year to 2 years: one-third of cost

2 or more years: no deduction

Of course, you need to decide (honestly) whether the place really needs to be fully repainted, or just touched up. If the place was not freshly painted before the tenant moved in, you really should not charge them anything regardless, because it was due for a repaint anyway. Just the cost of doing business.

Here's a link to the CA handbook from the DCA:


15 month's isn't long enough to with-hold a deposit for a new paint coat in entirety, you'd lose that one (unless they smoked cigarettes or crack [seriously] and smoke damaged the property.

You could only ensure victory by charging the painting (including prep) cost for the one wall. You COULD go big and claim "color match" required and charge for the entirety of that 1 room. That is reasonable and very common.

I wouldn't for the whole property even if the property is ALL the same color throughout. I don't believe any fair judge would allow all of that.

The scale of paint job is of the utmost importance in your situation. If this is a smaller cheaper rent controlled property, perhaps an acceptable paint job is under $1000 and it doesn't take much to finish. If your unit is larger, higher end and you need a high quality paint job to compete in your market, a new painting may cost you multiple thousands.

Unless you can get it done for free, paint jobs cost money, NEW paint jobs enhance property value. That being said, I'd re-appraise the unit with the intent of an increasing my rental's price after.

If you can fairly command an extra $100- $300 Great. It's money. If only $50, so what- you PAID for paint anyway. Seriously, I may sound like an ***, but saving money and making money are important to me.

If the new renters backed out on me because I wanted to charge them an extra $20 per month because I just spent $2000 painting the place, I wouldn't lose any sleep.

There are plenty of renters looking for a place with nice new paint.

@Christopher Johnson ,

To make the @ work, do the following:

Hold down the shift key and type @?

Look below this Window, and you will see a list of names of people that have posted in this thread.

Click on the name of the person that you want notified via an email, that you responded to them.

If you are a Colleague with anyone that has NOT posted in the thread, and you want them to see your post, hold down the shift key, type the @ and the first 4 letters of their First or Last Name.

Then look below this Window and click on that person's name.


Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here