Tenant wants to paint

17 Replies

Today my tenant asked me if I would paint or allow her to paint the living of the property she's renting from me. She wants to paint it yellow. I told her I'd give it some thought.  Experienced landlords what would you do? 

I don’t allow mine to do any painting. Tenants do a terrible job painting. 

Some landlords have allowed tenants to paint with the understanding that they’ll paint it back the original color when they move out. However, I have never seen a tenant actually do that so don’t expect them to. 

If you’re dead set on allowing her to do it, the way to do it would be to have a professional painter do the painting at her expense. 

I agree with @Kyle J.

A poorly done paint job can be costly to fix. Imagine large drips running down the walls, roller spatter all over the carpets or hw floors or worse- a knocked over paint can. I also believe it’s easier and faster to turn over a property if all you have to do is go in and clean and spot touch up your beautiful neutral color that you know the formula for and sheen. A lot faster than chasing after a tenant to repaint. They’d be focused on their new home and likely do a slipshod job on yours. 

I purchased a 4 plex six months ago where previous owner allowed tenants to paint. First vacancy I had to repaint entire unit including ceiling because tenant couldn’t paint to save their life.

There's risk involved. Tenant may do a terrible job, choose a terrible color, or cause other damages. When they leave, it is unlikely they will return it to the original or neutral color.

I've allowed tenants to paint on a few occasions but I'm very careful and get it in writing. I have to approve the color, I put in writing exactly what walls they are allowed to paint, I set a deadline for completion (I don't want to discover a half-painted wall six months later) and I inspect to ensure it's done properly. By the way, I only allow colors others would enjoy; no black, deep purples or reds, sea-foam green, etc.

My preference: when I have a good tenant and they want to add some color, I hire a pro (at my expense) to paint an accent wall in a color agreeable to the tenant. 

Never allow a tenant to do anything with your property. Most don't know which end of a tool to hold on to let alone know how to use it properly.

If you tenant wants work done that is not necessary you tell them you will hire someone at the tenants expense (or do it yourself at cost to tenant).

Landlords that agree to allow tenants to do work or do work for them to keep them happy are only wasting time and money.  

I would allow tenants to paint, with the disclosure that it will be required for them to pay for a professional painter to repaint after their move out. The risk you run is if they ruin the floors with dripping paint, or don't pay for the pro, then you have a mess on your hands. You could negotiate an additional deposit for the cost of re-painting. The easy answer is to say "no". 

I do this , I tell them my painter will do the painting , and I will charge them double . First to have it painted , and I get paid up front to have it repainted to the original color .   

Thanks to all for you suggestions and replies. I informed the tenant that I would allow her to paint BUT only if its done by a professional painter at her expense. I also informed her that I or my representative would have to be present to see that the area is properly prepped prior to painting.   I think when she sees what a professional will charge it will most likely change her mind.

You say tenants do an awful job painting. I agree - but don’t get me started on the horrible job some professional painters I’ve hired have done.

When you find a good painter - keep them!

My vote is a no.

They can certainly pay YOUR painter to HAVE it painted, but they cannot paint it themselves.  You have too much invested in the property to risk the damage that a tenant can be painting themselves.  Not just in the paint job itself, but also the failure to mask everything off properly.

I would never let tenants paint. Tenants may have good intentions and may want to do a good job but rarely will. What happens when they slop it on the trim or worse yet kick the gallon over on the carpet.

I have mixed thoughts on this one. I think the fact they want to make it their own is a good sign, They aren't asking to paint is black or put wallpaper up. Are they good tenants, have they paid the rent on time and are they currently taking good care of your property? Before you say no, have a conversation with them about it and express your concerns. The fact they want to do it tells me they want to stay for a while. Maybe you require they check in with you all along the way, certainly I would want to approve the color and I would really want to see how the prep the room, which is the most important part. If they are good tenants it seems to me there has to a way you both end up happy instead of you just saying no. I completely agree there are several concerns here but just because they rent doesn't mean they can't paint a room properly. 

@Val J. Under no circumstances should you allow a tenant to paint their unit. They will either do a terrible job painting, will want you to reimburse them for the paint, or without a doubt will not return the walls to their original color before moving out.

We had a tenant in one of our rentals here in CT  (B class area normal tenant) recently ask to paint a mural on one of the living room walls and that he would paint it back to the original color when moving out. I actually laughed when he suggested it. We were actually glad he asked before painting because some people would have just done it and asked for forgiveness later.

I allowed tenants to repaint their unit after they assured me their son would do the job (who I’ve met, seems capable, and did a lot of work on his own home.) I also bought them the paint we use on all of our units. In the past, we’ve allowed tenants to hire professionals and we supplied the paint. Many of these tenants have been in their units for years so it keeps them there and keeps them happy.