Why you shouldn't let tenants paint your property

20 Replies

I spent the day in a new investment property priming a bedroom that was originally painted pink, then "retouched" and "textured" with a sponge and globs of prostitute-passion red latex paint . The tenant painted all the wall edges in this color with a 2-inch brush, lining out out all the walls, corners AND of course the crown moulding in this 90-year-old property. She didn't of course paint behind the gigantic flat-pack particle-board chifforobe she left behind when she skipped out on her lease.

This is what can happen when a tenant tells you, "I just want to do something special."

Special enough to be a good-sized part of the reason why the former owners just took one look at the place and sold it to me as is. Three or four coats of Kilz2 special.

we once bought a house with a Sleeping Beauty mural drawn on the wall with permanent markers. I assumed the previous owners had their own little princess. that is how I learned about Kilz- - 2 wasted coats of paint later.

They always like to start, then realize its a lot of work to do it right.  That is what you get for a final project when tenants paint. 

@Bettina F.

Classy with the permanent marker.

@Shannon Slade

I'm still trying to see how anything can be done right with that color, I really am.

@Bettina F. one tip for permanent marker removal I learnt from one of the janitorial staff at the medical clinic where I work is to use bug spray. It is amazing what it can do. Now I would say obviously test out a small area before really going at it and it does have a substantial odour to it, but then again so does paint thinner. I attached a link showing how well it can work and maybe help get back to a blank canvas if you will. Whether this is helpful or not is up those who run into the issue of course. 


I remember an applicant once proudly telling me how he "individualized" every room in the house he had rented by painted it a different theme.   He was proud he had done one room in a Star Wars theme, another in a camo theme, etc.. 

 I don't believe he got the landlords permission to do such a bonehead thing.

Do you think I'd ever consider renting to this idiot?


I just finished a rehab on a duplex - both sides are owner occupied.  They both agreed on the color of the wall-wall carpet for the 1st floor.


Ew. That looks like a crime scene.

The house I'm working on now had a bedroom done (badly) in neon safety green. Seriously, it hurt your eyes just to go in there. Kilz is a wonderful thing...

Sometimes I allow tenants to paint, but require pre-approval of colors first.  On my most recent rental, the existing paint was OK (not bad enough to repaint, but not perfect), so I was planning on repainting the entire property a few years down the road anyway.  The current tenants signed a 2 year lease and plan on staying long term (they asked for a 3 year lease but wanted a discount), so I see it as a good way to retain good tenants.  If the paint looks good and holds up, I've saved myself the trouble and cost of repainting.  If not, I was going to repaint anyway.

Probably won't do this with the duplex I'm rehabbing since it will be freshly, professionally skim coated and painted for the next tenant.

Nail polish remover also works well for permanent marker.

So when I go to Lowe's I should ask for prostitute-passion red latex paint? Do they have it in stock or is it special order:)

@John Thedford

Alls I know is I'm pretty sure it was on special [email protected]!

@Ian Olmsted

I've never let a tenant paint a rental. Part of hardening old low-cost rental properties in Pittsburgh like this (with intact plaster throughout and lead paint safety issues properly put to bed) is getting the paint right at first so that we can clean and repaint reliably and quickly between tenants. Paint is a protective coating with decorative properties. You get people painting who can't understand why it's there, and you have one crappy job after the other that takes a lot of time and cost to correct and get the value of the paint job to match the value of the property, especially on trim.

UPDATE: Kilz2 effectively put away Melisandre in two coats, ready to roll on Glidden Premium.

Account Closed

One of my mentors said that he let tenants paint once and they decided to paint the room floor to ceiling in a red and white checkerboard fashion. 

I applaud their commitment, but that was one of the craziest painting debacles I've heard of. 

Originally posted by @Bettina F. :
we once bought a house with a Sleeping Beauty mural drawn on the wall with permanent markers. I assumed the previous owners had their own little princess. that is how I learned about Kilz- - 2 wasted coats of paint later.

My wife and I just did similar for our kids rooms, only with Mario. We outlined with permanent marker... Our youngest asked to get rid of two of his characters, so we did... After 3 coats of paint we realized the marker was not going to disappear without a good primer. 2 coats of Kilz Complete and 2 more coats of wall paint and the characters are gone. Should have known better, however we were rushing the project along to get the kids into their bedrooms.

Very interesting color. I normally dont let tenants paint but we have on occasion with color approval. They sometimes take liberties with murals too so I am clear about that and ceilings must stay white. I am currently nuetralizing my own home for sale and can use these tips on the fire engine red walls that I did for my son years ago. We did use fabric instead of paint for a kid request for silver. Comes down easier then wallpaper and no special painting on move out.

I rent and had to repaint over my landlords horrible DARK BROWN through the entire house.  We picked a nice neutral gray / taupe.  Opens up the whole house and makes it look so much bigger.  Of course he agreed on the color before we painted!  

Account Closed the prostitution red latex paint sounds like Red Guard waterproofing and crack membrane sold at home depot.  One would paint it on like regular paint around the walls of a tub/shower before installing tile...very interesting choice they made with that selection!

@Stephanie D.

Very good eye. It wasn't RedGard, just thick water-based paint. You're absolutely right, though, it was practically the same shade as dried RedGard where it had been exposed to minimum UV exposure from the four windows in this bedroom, as it has here in the photo posted.

I also met the tenant who did this -- and she would not know RedGard from Easter egg dye powder.

In other places throughout the room, the paint had darkened a bit and taken on more of a purplish tone. The worst example of this was on the crown molding of the room, which itself was an obvious, poorly-done late addition to this duplex, originally finished in very good stain-grade oak trim. The original trim on this place was done by a very good trim carpenter. It's been a complete shame, a leprosy of the soul, to paint over it. But the place is old and was maintained for seventy years by a father and son team of living avatars of Bozo the Clown Handyman. The trim was in really bad shape when we came in.

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