tenant wants to paint

46 Replies

Coming up to renewal, the tenant is asking if he could re-paint the house at my expense because he doesn't like the color (only been 2 yrs since the tenant moved in). I told him no i can't pay for it. but he is insisting that i do it and is threatening to move. what's the best way of dealing with it? I don't want him to paint it himself because i'm afraid that he'll make a mess. but a professional painter is going to cost a lot more...

@Kevin L.

 tell him it was nice having him and wish him well finding his next property

Hi Kevin,

I thought I had heard it all, a tenant insisting that the landlord paint at the landlords expense. Perhaps not.... but that is new to me.

What does your lease indicate? My leases are explicit in that the tenant is not allowed to paint without express written authorization from the landlord and if authorized, it's at the tenants expense. With that said, I have never allowed this and have it in writing in my lease. With each turnover I have the place painted as it generally needs a coat.

Though your question was that the tenant wants you to pay for the painting. Does it really need it? When the tenant came into the lease agreement was there any mention that the tenant didn't like the color scheme?

Have you looked at estimates from any professional painters to get an idea of what the cost will be?

If the tenant is threatening to move over paint, sounds like something else is really going on.

  A tenant with a sloppy paint brush can really make a mess and really damage a property.  i would explain your concerns and tell him No. If he wants to move then he will have to move.  interior one room for baby room maybe, exterior of a house NO or whole interior No

A friend of mine has a professional painter as a tenant who asked if he could repaint the interior at TENANT's expense and she happily agreed (color approved by her).  Good luck looking for a new tenant.

He said the colors don't match with his decors. His rent is way below market so I'm raising it closer to market (still below, but not as bad as before). and yet he's using this as an excuse to want me to pay for painting the interior. 

Hit the road Jack! No tenant painting, period.

Kevin L.
I agree with @Mark Brogan
Tell him thanks, but no thanks.
Oh and I hope you have a no painting remodeling clause in your lease and if he's month to month Adios!

I let a tenant paint the interior a normal-ish color 6 months into the lease at his expense.  Your particular tenant is requesting something entirely unreasonable,  unless he is a very good painter and the house looks like crap - then just maybe.

Agree to not let him paint himself.  You could offer to arrange for painting if he will pay for it and you get to approve the color, or offer him a paint job in another year to incent him to stay but not have to pay as soon.  It's nice to do something small in exchange for raising rent.  Explain that you'd be a happy to provide a ceiling fan, whisper fan, or new screen door, etc, but painting this soon is not going to happen.  Sounds like if he walks you can raise rent even more.  It's a bummer to lose a tenant over something so silly, but don't be a pushover either, remember that you are training your tenants.

Thanks everyone. I told him no again but outlined what a great deal he's getting. I do have a paint clause in the contract. I'll remind him when he responds. 

Adios.

Au Revoir.

Arrivederci.

Auf Wiedersehen.

Tell the tenant absolutely not and good luck finding a new place! But in a nicer way of course...

We had tenants repaint a kitchen in one of our properties (without asking) and they lost their security deposit. They covered our brand new Sherwin-Williams paint with cheap Walmart stuff, and got it on the cabinets as well.

We have it in our lease that tenants are not allowed to paint inside or outside. If he didn't like the color he shouldn't have moved in!

Stick to your guns. You're not paying to paint anything.

Really guys? Painting is an easy diy job and it shows the tenant cares about the house. Approve the color. You will likely paint if they move out anyway.

in my B+/C quality rentals we just let them paint.  Tenants that can paint the walls take a sense of ownership and then tend to stay a lot longer.  Even if they spray a little paint on the trim or floors by accident it's not the end of the world, carpet gets replaced every 5 years anyways...

Again though, these are not top of the line places, but the middle market as well so 40-50 years old and showing signs of age.

The problem here is that you have an angry tenant.  Been there.  I managed a building in Silicon Valley, and as you probably know the rents went into the stratosphere after the market rebounded.

What happens is, you tell the tenant you're going to raise the rent.  They then hit Craigslist thinking, Oh yeah? You evil greedy landlord!!  I'll show you!!! I'll just move!!!

Then they realize staying is the best deal in town.

But, now they're angry at you because you are raising their rent!!!!!  They've been your tenant for two years!!!!  How can you be so greedy!!!  And then, they start finding everything wrong with the unit and calling you to fix things and wanting more for their money.

There is a really weird mentality that many tenants have about "loyalty."  They expect you to keep their rent low, simply because they have been your tenant for X number of years.  Regardless of the fact that it is a business you're in for profit, and you're still giving them a better deal than they'd get if they were to move.

But, they take out their anger on you.

It's my opinion that you need to let this guy go.  Today it will be paint, tomorrow it will be something else.

I still get phone calls from my previous tenants for various things.  I got a call a couple weeks ago from a tenant who has been in the building I managed for a good 10 years.  He's in a small studio, which he's now paying around $950 for, which if he was to move out could be rented in a day for at least $1400.

He wanted to know if I'd be a reference because he doesn't like the new manager.  Won't get into that.  But, he was complaining about how they keep raising the rent, and the place isn't that great, and listing all the things he didn't like about it.

I said, "I know rents have gone through the roof in Santa Clara, but you are actually getting a great deal right now."  His response was "But I've been living here for over 10 years!!!!!"

I told him the only way I could retire was to move far away from the SF Bay Area, and since he was now retired, why didn't he look at moving somewhere cheaper?  But, no, he'd rather stay there and complain about it.

I don't understand why tenants think landlords owe them cheap rent.  Or why they'd think their rent should never get raised.  But, once they get angry about it, they will be nasty to deal with.  They'll complain about everything and be unpleasant to deal with.

The moral to this story is, get rid of the unhappy tenant, raise the rent to where it should be in your hot Austin market, and get a tenant in there who is happy to pay the rent you want.

Accept his 30 day notice. Next he'll ask you to give him a down-payment for a house. I agree with the others, interior no problem, even deduct it from the security deposit. Exterior, especially if not required and not necessary, I would tell him to pound sand.

Wow I see some very passionate responses here! I really don't think he'll move over this. He's just trying to push my limit and see how far I'll allow him to push it. If he decides to stay are you all saying that I should not renew his lease since he will most likely angry and will cause me issues down the road?

Wow, there really are a lot of passionate responses here.

I agree with @Account Closed you're probably going to paint when he moves out anyway, so this really doesn't seem like a big deal to me. A sloppy paint job is a pain to deal with, so I'd want to know that he had some reasonable skills - maybe let him paint one room to start with and show you that he can do it without getting it all over the place.

But if you're talking about him doing the work, rather than him hiring a professional painter, you're talking about less than $300 in paint to do an average sized single family rental, especially if you pass on your discount from wherever you buy paint. In your shoes, I'd probably offer to defer the rent increase for one month to offset his cost of paint and let him do it himself.

The current color was never mentioned.  If the wall paint doesnt go with his decor, is it not neutral?  I have seen plenty of rentals where homeowners colors were left on the walls...maybe the colors are so bold that to rent in a soft market would require repainting in neutrals and the tenant just wants it done now rather than later.  

If the house is indeed colorful, a compromise would be to paint the room he hates most...or the room you are most likely to paint if ever vacant.  I agree in not allowing a tenant to paint, too risky.  Roller lint on walls, paint on recepticals, painted dirt, bad spackle job painted hard, paint on fireplace stone, and this in reo homes painted by owners...remove one degree of care for tenants (not all, but you never know which).

He has below-market rent (even after your raise) so that should be a thing he'd keep in mind right there. What color paint is in there currently and is it in bad shape?

One thing to remember is that if he does indeed move, will you most likely have to paint anyway? This would be on top of a vacancy. Perhaps negotiate with him. Perhaps not. It's really all up to you, but do consider if it'd need repainting anyway if he moves out.

Like someone mentioned, maybe he's just all talk and won't really leave. Does he pay rent on time? Does he generally take care of the place?

60 days before a lease is up, I send a tenant a letter with three options (they only get this letter if I hope they'll renew). Option 1 is to do nothing and let the lease go month-to-month. Option 2 is an incentive to renew for another year; no rent increase as I'm already at the top of the market and say $75 off the first month rent of the renewed lease. Option 3 is their notice to me that they're vacating.

If you prefer to keep this guy, you could negotiate that he buys the paint and the color is approved by you and you'll pay to have it done. I'm sure you can find a quality handyman that'll do a decent paint job rather than some top-of-the-line painting company.

Originally posted by @Michael Hayworth :

Wow, there really are a lot of passionate responses here.

I agree with @Account Closed you're probably going to paint when he moves out anyway, so this really doesn't seem like a big deal to me. A sloppy paint job is a pain to deal with, so I'd want to know that he had some reasonable skills - maybe let him paint one room to start with and show you that he can do it without getting it all over the place.

But if you're talking about him doing the work, rather than him hiring a professional painter, you're talking about less than $300 in paint to do an average sized single family rental, especially if you pass on your discount from wherever you buy paint. In your shoes, I'd probably offer to defer the rent increase for one month to offset his cost of paint and let him do it himself.

 The thread is showing two types of landlords.

1. Those that have never gone into the unit to find a room (or more) painted hot pink.

2. Those that have.

Do you know how many coats of Killz are required to cover pink? We don't. Gave up after three.

It's not that the walls are going to be painted badly, it's that the trim will be painted badly, the door will suddenly get painted, the door knob gets painted, the AC vent gets painted, the closet doors will get painted. 

Once the tenant starts painting, it doesn't stop.

We bought a triplex, the seller was aghast when she found the tenant had painted the kitchen black and yellow. Yup, yellow for the most part (apart from behind the fridge and stove) and black above the picture rail. Bright yellow. nothing subtle about it.

I still remember the artist tenant that my mother had years ago. Good painting skills - she was an artist after all. But painting woodwork black ... 

As @James DeRoest  posted, until you've had a tenant do a horrible paint job, and most of them are horrible from what I've seen ... well, advice to allow a tenant to paint is a bad idea. 

Now, this tenant even thinks the landlord should pay for the paint to match the tenant's decor. Well, the paint color was there from day one, so tenant knew how well or badly it would match decor. Let the tenant pay for a redo of their decor items to match the paint ... that is something they can do without having the landlord pick up the tab. 

Originally posted by @Kevin L. :

Wow I see some very passionate responses here! I really don't think he'll move over this. He's just trying to push my limit and see how far I'll allow him to push it. If he decides to stay are you all saying that I should not renew his lease since he will most likely angry and will cause me issues down the road?

 Yep.  That's exactly what I'm saying.  Look at your original post:

"Coming up to renewal, the tenant is asking if he could re-paint the house at my expense because he doesn't like the color (only been 2 yrs since the tenant moved in). I told him no i can't pay for it. but he is insisting that i do it and is threatening to move. what's the best way of dealing with it? I don't want him to paint it himself because i'm afraid that he'll make a mess. but a professional painter is going to cost a lot more.."

Why would you want to keep a tenant who threatens to move if you don't paint the inside of the unit - at your expense - a new color to match his decor?

This is beyond unreasonable behavior.  Note the word "threatened."

Paint today, carpet tomorrow....

At best, put him on MTM, so you can get rid of him when he wants new countertops...

Why not give the tenant the option of a higher increase in rent to cover the painting costs?  

If he wants it done at renewal I would spread the increase over 6 months, so you get profit on it.  If he would be willing to wait 3 months, I would be more willing to do it at cost.

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