Renter of 13 years wants the interior painted and new bathtub

27 Replies

Good Evening! Long distance real estate investor here. I am currently living overseas and I have a 3/2 located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Current tenants have been there for 13 years. They are coming up on their next lease renewal with a $25 increase and are requesting that the interior be painted and a bathtub replaced. I am not arguing that it does not need it but I would prefer to have the whole house refurbished when it is empty. With that said, fresh paint in and out, new carpet and vinyl will only increase my rent to perhaps another $200 a month per my new property manager. The property cash flows $248 a month currently . They have been there along time and at this juncture I would probably prefer appeasing them and painting the interior. Previous PM was adamant that the rents would not sustain an increase so rent was stagnant for most of this time. I fired him last year and we increased rent last year and now are increasing again. They requested to paint the interior last year but as they are not professional painters and I was leery of what kind of paint job they would perform I said no. Have $3000 in cash reserves for maintenance for this house. Has anyone had any success with painting the interior when a long term tenant requests it? Thanks 

Is the paint really bad? What type of area is this? Some tenants feel theyre entitled to this stuff if they live there a long time. They’re not entitled to anything besides clean safe place to live. These are cosmetic things unless I’m missing something.

So long story short unless it costs you like double to turn the place over should they vacate, I would tell them you’ll do two things, of which they can choose one of they want:

1. You do nothing and it stays as is
2. You make the requested changes and they pay for it up front.

I would bet they don’t choose 2, so they may vacate. Do the standard rent ready and rerent for more.

13 years nice! I would find an I expensive painter to paint or buy the paint for them to paint it. Your flooring is likely due to be replaced soon so how much damage can they do by painting. I have let tenants paint neutral colors and have never had a problem.

Can tub be reglazed? If they have more than one bathroom this would work as it has to dry a couple days at least, if not have it replaced to keep a 13 year tenant happy.

13 years? Wow you should throw these people a bone.  

You're worrying about a new tub? Get some pictures. If it's a bad tub, then just get a new one.

Don't get professional paint job done while they are still living in there - who knows how the paint will hold up by the time they do move out. Buy the people some cheap paint and let them paint some walls if they want - they will feel so much better, have more pride in the place, and want to stay longer. If you're going to refurb the place when they move out, the tenants doing a meh job at painting some walls is not going to really slow you down. 

Maybe I am missing something here.  If you've had the same tenants for $13 years why is it even a question on whether or not to paint? Have you visited the place recently?  Do you do regular upkeep?  As @John Underwood  said buy/credit them neutral paint I bet they will be more than happy to do it.

If it’s a grand or so I’d do it . They may stay another 13 years

I would have done it at year 5.

I'm with @David Halprin on this one. 13 year tenants could use a bit of a gift. Imagine the amount of time and money they have saved you from searching for new tenants throughout those 13 years. A bathtub and new paint pales in comparison. I also agree that allowing them to paint would be nice, because they can get the colors they want and would get a sense of pride. If you plan to renovate down the line anyway, then you can paint over whatever they painted if it didn't come out in good shape.  

Make sure if you let them paint you approve the colors first before that brush hits the wall ! Tenants usually have poor taste and will leave your house in neon pink green and blue in every room

you're about 5 years late for a repaint, so thank them for doing you such a big favor.

the maintenance on the house is required. your profit is secondary, pay up and keep moving forward.

Paint it.  Even a couple year tenant who is low maintenance should get a little perk.   However painting is disruptive so I would consider breaking it in two if you decide to do the whole place.  As for the tub there should be something wrong to replace , reglaze or reline it.  Get some pictures and find out why they are asking. We have older tubs and one tenant thought they weren't white enough..  News flash we had to educate her that the white of today is different then 1920s white and there was nothing wrong with the tub. 

If the tub isn't damaged, you could have a company like Get-a-grip refinish it. They can do the wall tiles in the shower too, which can bring new life to an older house. I seem to remember it costing about $1200 per bathroom and makes it look great. One word of caution though, the tenants cannot put a bath mat in the tub after it has been coated. It will cause the coating to look damaged after a while. 

As for the paint, I let my tenants repaint the walls as long as they don't paint them black. 

250/month cash flow is about what I am getting in Albuquerque too. 

After 13 years it needs a paint job. I would paint it yourself or hire someone (not the tenant) to paint. If the tub is damaged I would also take care of that. After 13 years these are not unreasonable requests. I consider this maintenance and not an upgrade so these costs should be factored into the cost of home ownership. If your rental profits do not allow this then you should sell because this is not a good property for renting.

If after 13 years they are still at market rent they are good tenants, if they are below market they are not really worth putting much effort into keeping.

Either way I would be straight with them and tell them I do paint/fix up a tenant turnover. If they want to paint it may not hurt since the entire place will need painting and spruce up when they do leave anyway. Normally I do not allow tenants to do anything but after 13 years there may not be much harm. The only exception would be if you have natural woodwork or wood floors that would be damaged. 

Your other option would be to tell them you will hire a contractor to paint if they are willing to pay for it. Again it depends on whether they are good tenants meaning at market rent.

For me I see long term tenants as ones that you do not need to spend money on. They generally have no desire to move and may be motivated to spend some of their own money to update their home.

If you haven’t done any cosmetic maintenance such as painting in 13 years then it’s definitely overdue - a question you may want to raise with your property manager is what other basic maintenance does the house need?

Buy the paint for them, provide them some guidance on using neutral colours only, have the tub replaced, and thank them for being a paying tenant for 13 years - it will be good for the relationship and you’ll have a happy tenant who will care for the home and will likely stay another 13 years...

$250 month cash flow, 12 months a year, 13 years. That's $39,000. I'd say it's time to paint. But I am also wondering, why do you only have $3,000 in reserves? I read an article on BP before that basically says, if your tenant is going to sign a new lease then it's a good idea to give them some sort of small upgrade if they ask. Paint, ceiling fan, etc. It sounds like this tenant is about to sign lease number 14. Maybe ask them if they plan on being out of town for a week or a long weekend soon. Then get in there and paint the interior while they are gone. 

@Tim Greenfield the hardest part about painting with tenants in place is their junk can get in the way. They need to remove everything from the room or at least clear several feet by the walls. If that is not done, the painter will get annoyed or refuse to do the job. There is also risk of a painter getting paint on their belongings if they are not removed. For these reasons, I would let the tenant paint. I would just give them good instructions up front about taping off woodwork and using drop cloths. I would also approve the color and pay for the paint. I only buy good paint from Sherwin-Williams. Thicker paint is less likely to drip, therefore less likely to cause a mess. I also like Sherwin-Williams because I can buy the color in the future for touch up or repainting. Big-box stores like Home Depot will change colors or suppliers and it can be harder to get the paint.

I would be careful now that you are raising rents yearly to make sure you are doing updates. Tenants will tolerate less as their rents are increasing. My guess is that there are several freshly painted 3/2 homes in Albuquerque for rent right now, so your customer does have options.

I've let tenets repaint, but with the stipulation that they need to repaint the rooms with white primer before they leave and I approve the colors. they haven't moved out yet so not sure how it will work out in the end. I did like the option presented above of get a quote and have them pay for it.
p.s. check out the tub. if it's damaged in the least then replace it. they will be happy and you will probably save yourself from mold and water damage.

Long term tenents are gold for landlords.  As others have stated, it probably needs to be painted anyway.  Am I understanding that they offered to take care of the painting?  If so, even better.  I would just explain to them that they need to return it to a neutral color before they depart.  You probably can get the tub refurbished pretty cheaply.

 These are pretty minimal requests given the length of time they've been with you.  I say do it and hope they live there "forever".  Vacancies and Turnover can turn into pretty hefty expenses over time.  

I just signed a 3rd lease with tenants that wanted to replace the kitchen/dining floor at their last rental of 10 years and the request/offer was denied.
Let them paint. Tell them not to paint the electrical switch plates and no dark or bright colors. Send them a swatch of greige as a sample of the intensity of color or tell them to use the behr neutral flyer at home depot as a guide. Pay for their paint absolutely.

Hello Tim. I believe that I would have a professional paint job done. However, it would likely be at the start of a new lease to ensure the possibility of the tenants staying for another year; not a bad idea to factor that into the equation. If you haven’t, it might be a good idea to do an owner inspection just to see what they’ve done after 13 years in general. Just a walk-through to see if there are holes in the walls or anything like that to get a indication of what really needs to be done as it pertains to damage or more general wear.

Originally posted by @David Halprin :

13 years? Wow you should throw these people a bone.  

You're worrying about a new tub? Get some pictures. If it's a bad tub, then just get a new one.

Don't get professional paint job done while they are still living in there - who knows how the paint will hold up by the time they do move out. Buy the people some cheap paint and let them paint some walls if they want - they will feel so much better, have more pride in the place, and want to stay longer. If you're going to refurb the place when they move out, the tenants doing a meh job at painting some walls is not going to really slow you down. 

@David- Thanks for the response! I am in Germany so I contacted the PM to get some quotes. I like the idea of purchasing some paint for them. Perhaps I could make a deal where, I buy the paint for them but also throw another bone to them that I replace the flooring or some other deal where we all win.

Originally posted by @John Underwood :

13 years nice! I would find an I expensive painter to paint or buy the paint for them to paint it. Your flooring is likely due to be replaced soon so how much damage can they do by painting. I have let tenants paint neutral colors and have never had a problem.

Can tub be reglazed? If they have more than one bathroom this would work as it has to dry a couple days at least, if not have it replaced to keep a 13 year tenant happy.

 @John- Thanks for the reglazing idea, I mentioned that to the property manager as they will be sending out people for quotes.

@David Halprin Thanks. The PM will be sending people out for quotes. I may incorporate what you say with some other item. IE- I buy the paint and if they paint, I will upgrade something else (vinyl floors in the kitchen) as it does need some work. But I will wait on a priority list from the new PM.

@Dominique Pradel-Lewis - Thanks for the response. As I mentioned in the beginning, I have not been there in a long time as I am living in Germany and before that South Korea. The PM which I had all this time, kept telling me that all was well and also that the rents were stagnant so the property was only breaking even until recently when I fired him and the new PM said that my rents were too low. They were also paying month to month forever and with the new PM last year started with yearly contracts and increases in rent.

@Matty Bee , per the previous PM it didn't need it but I let him go last year. Working with the new PM to get things back up to par.

@Kellen King - Thanks! Appreciate the feedback

@Colleen F. - Thanks I wanted further clarification on the tub and asked the PM to look at the other 1 as well. Also working with the PM on quotes for paint

@Joel Belding - Thanks! How is "Get a Grip" different from standard glazing? Glad you are having success in Albq. My previous PM always gave me gloom and doom stories with how bad the entire economy was since 2008. Glad to see the economy improving. I love that town and really miss the green chiles!

@Amy Beth - Cash flow only started improving since last year with the new PM. I would paint it myself and do so much more but I am in Germany. I am relying on the PM so hopefully she can get someone out there quickly so this is taken care of.

@Thomas S. - Thanks! They have been paying below market and have been below market for awhile at least according to my new PM. My intent is to fix the house up in stages and keep the house rented. They have been amenable to our rent increases and I dont think they would mind the disruption. I will get with the PM so that we can prioritize work. So I am willing to meet them halfway in some areas but I am not up to a full blown renovation until after they leave. The whole house will need it.

@Elio Benincasa Thanks

@Anthony Wick - Per the previous PM, he stated that the market did not warrant rent increases. It really only started cash flowing last year with rent increases. The $3k is from the cash flow since I increased rent last year. The previous PM had them going month to month. I should have gotten rid of him sooner but as I was overseas, I thought I was in good hands. I was wrong.

Thanks to everyone else as well. Good information and insights.

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