Letting Tenants Paint?

16 Replies

In my time as a property manager, the landlord let his tenants paint their units. Obviously I'd go in there and paint it back to its original paint after theyve moved out ( and you can imagine all the layers of paint). I'd like to know what kind of policies everybody else uses when it comes to this situation?

As a property management company our policy is the tenants can paint with the owners permission. If the colors are neutral and go with the feel of the rest of the property. Any damage done(paint spills or spray) will be deducted from the deposit. If the tenants want to paint a wild color it must be returned to the original color at move out. Any touch up will be deducted from the deposit. It's easiest to just paint your properties in a neutral color to begin with and not allow to paint. Make sure you save your paint codes for future paint! Good luck

I used to let tenants paint if they asked first, the color was agreeable, and they agreed to repaint it upon move-out. 

However, what I ended up learning (after various tenants/experiences) was that their ability to do an acceptable painting job is severely lacking, they often used other colors that weren't approved (in addition to the one that was), and NO ONE ever repainted it upon move-out. 

So now, I don't allow it anymore.  I use a very appealing two-tone paint scheme in all of my rentals, and they are always perfectly painted/clean with no holes in the wall when the tenant first sees it and agrees to rent it and also when they move-in.  And that's the way I prefer it to stay.

I used to let tenants paint. I don't now.

Reason: Tenants generally don't know how to paint. In the past mine got paint everywhere, seemingly in impossible places. It wasn't worth the hassle for me, so it's just a blanket "No" these days.

Medium mogul logo web smallPeter MacKercher, Mogul Realty | [email protected] | 314.210.4414 | http://stlmogul.com

I wont let them paint , but I will send a painter over . I make the tenant pay double his price , that covers the repaint back to the original color .

Peter and Kyle are 100% correct. The problem with allowing ANYONE to paint is that if one person tries to paint and messes it up - the walls are basically forever ruined unless you sand/float the entire wall over again. 

My experience has shown me that most ppl are BAD at painting.

We use consistent palettes throughout our properties.  Naturally we are not enthusiastic to paint units in one-off colour schemes.

Usually once or twice a year we get a tenant who asks to paint a room (usually a bedroom) or, occasionally, most of the unit, colours of their choosing.  We never say no, we simply provide them with our policy and process:

  • the tenant must use one of our approved painters;
  • the tenant is responsible for the cost of materials and labour to painting the spaces to their colours;
  • the tenant is responsible for the cost of returning the room(s) to our standard colours when they move out (this includes priming walls to change paint colours as necessary);  

We execute a separate agreement with the tenant and they must put funds in escrow to cover the cost of returning the unit to our colour palette.

This usually tempers the tenant's appetite to repaint the apartment.

Now, for longer term tenants who have been with us a couple of years or more, we will often offer to paint an accent wall or repaint a room and have them help select the paint colours.  We once repainted the second bedroom in one of our flats to turn it into a nursery for the couple who lived there.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

Kevin, One of my original rules was to never let a tenant paint the house. I broke the rule a year ago because the tenant owned the duplex before I bought it from him. He was a landlord so he knows how to paint? WRONG! He painted half of the cheap imitation wood trim when he was painting the walls. When he moved out this year I had to replace all of the trim. I will never allow a tenant to paint again!

I agree with the naysayers.

Generally, I'm against it.  Everyone thinks they can paint.  Almost no one can do a professional-looking job, because ... almost no tenant is a professional painter.

My approach now is to say something like, "My paint guy charges $200 a room.  I'll allow you to paint if you pay me a $200/room fee to cover repainting after you move if I don't think your job is good enough.  Fair warning, I haven't seen an acceptable paint job by a tenant yet."

As a tenant I liked the idea of an accent wall being done. As a landlord I would agree with what has been said. The answer is no.

Medium erm logoMichael Roy MBA, EastRoy Management, LLC

I'm on the side of "no." Because if they end up painting a terrible dark color, when they go to repaint it, the color could still bleed through.


If I was going to approve, I would have to see the color in advance, and at a minimum the color would have to look good and match the gloss rating of the walls they are painting. Quick Tip: Make sure everything that is painted inside the house is at least Semi Gloss, and High Gloss for kitchens and bathrooms.

I will sometimes reward a long-term tenant and paint a room for them.  Myself.  If I have time. 

My residents do not touch a brush or roller unless they are a professional painter by day.  I do not want to have to repaint the ceiling or replace the carpet and/or the trim because they can't cut in and won't be careful.  There will also be tons of chatter where they tried to spackle/fill nail holes.  NO WAY!  

I like @Matthew Paul 's idea. I have always let my tenants paint (without problems, yet....) because I want them to treat the unit like home, which leads to longer stays and fewer vacancies. I am going to change my policy to be that they can choose the paint colors, but I will send professionals to actually do the job. Thanks for the idea!

NO!!. they get charged for holes in the wall and painting. something like $20-$50 if i remember correctly.

My initial decision was no, but you all have given a ton of great information! Thanks for all the awesome responses!

I let them paint, but I buy the paint.  This way it's not pink and it's not gloss paint.

We have twice but no longer do. One tenant dripped red paint all over the trim and also painted the ceiling red; they painted it all back before they moved out but of course the red paint spills remain along with the white paint drips on the trim. Another wanted to paint a room that was an orange color so we said sure, and she did a great job.  I think responding the way @Roy N.

 describes is a great idea and I plan to implement that in the future, I doubt anyone would go for it, but it is a nicer way to say no; your letting them make the decision not to.