Do you let your tenants paint?

13 Replies

Hello Jeff! I've tried several ways of handling this, but the most successful strategy I've found is to have the tenants submit a paint swatch, and once you've approved it, you can hire painters (or paint yourself) to paint it that color, while charging the tenants for time + material. My cost to the tenants is $50 per wall that they'd like painted, and I tell them my painters need to do it for liability reasons + to protect them from getting charged to paint it back to it's original color at the end of their tenancy. If the new color they choose is approved, you end up with a free fresh paint job and the tenants are happy.

I have, but it depends on the tenant and the property. A house that's been full rehabbed, painted with our choice of colors? No. A house that has not been rehabbed, that was going to be rehabbed after they moved out? Maybe. A house that's about to be rehabbed, but a tenant needs to get in right away and is willing to paint themselves, using paint and colors that we supply? Probably.

If you have to default to an answer, the default should almost always be "No". If they are existing tenants with a good track record, and they're not doing anything that's not reversible or risking damaging good flooring, it can be considered. 

@Jeff Duford No most tenants can barely dress themselves . I’ve toured some apartments before where the tenant not only dId a terrIble sloppy job but ruined laminate floor because they wouldn’t use the drop cloth and the paint got down in the flooring textured pattern on the planks . You’ll be sorry if you let a tenant do this . Painters are usually cheap if you shop around

Nope. Never. If they ask why; I will tell them that "all of our properties are the same color." Which is what we plan on doing each time a property needs to be painted inside. 

We've let tenants paint before, letting them know we would use their security deposit to repaint the property to the original color at the end of their tenancy. Of course they choose to paint the bedroom, and ceiling, black. It took a ton of extra work to return the property to it's original color. Now my answer is to just say no. 

I never allow tenants to do anything. Most are incompetent since never owning their own home they have next to no experience. Always include in your lease that tenants are not permitted to alter the unit in any way and when you are reviewing your lease with new tenants always highlight this clause.

Regrettably tenants never pay attention to their lease language but when they ask about doing work you can then simply remind them.

Don't do it.  Don't even consider it.  In other words, 'no'.  

Tenants are renting a residential space; if it needs painting, that is owner's responsibility.  If you can't get a professional looking job, it will look like the tenants (novices) painted it, and will lower the desirability of the unit for the next occupants.

Keep with neutral, off-white colors, keep it simple--it will broaden the appeal to the greatest number of potential renters.

@Jason D. you're so far the only "yes" in a sea of "no"!  but i was initially inclined to say yes as well.  they've been good tenants, have owned a home before so know what they're doing (probably more than me at this stage) and if this makes them happier/want to stay longer....all the better.  

but sounds like some folks have some horror stories...

Originally posted by @Jeff Duford :

@Jason D. you're so far the only "yes" in a sea of "no"!  but i was initially inclined to say yes as well.  they've been good tenants, have owned a home before so know what they're doing (probably more than me at this stage) and if this makes them happier/want to stay longer....all the better.  

but sounds like some folks have some horror stories...

 Well, I would qualify as a "it depends". It sounds like you have the type of tenants that may be OK to let paint. You have to know who and what you're dealing with. If your house is the Taj Mahal, then you don't want your tenants painting no way no how. If it's a dump, but it's a dump they like, there's probably no harm in it and may even work out for you. Most cases are somewhere in between. If in doubt you should always default to no, but that doesn't mean you should strictly forbid it. I have a house that I was going to have the walls redone a few years back before a new tenant came in - the walls were heavy textured in kind of a Spanish stucco style, which is not common where I am nor really desirable. Just before I could get my drywaller in there, a new potential tenant saw it, said she loved it, and after she moved in asked if she could repaint it an approved color. I figured why not, since I was going to redo the walls anyway. She painted it a very nice color, stayed one year, and it has been rented two more times to tenants who loved the color and loved the style. So it shows that you never really know for sure what might be gold to someone else. But this girl you could tell really was on the ball, and the paint job was as good as any professional would have done. Once you have spent many years dealing with people and working with the public, you pretty quickly get a good feel for a person - if you don't, you better get a good property manager or you'll be shook out of this business quickly. 

@JD Martin that makes sense and these folks had owned a home previously and from what i've seen have taken pretty immaculate care of my home.  basically i trust this guy to do a good job.  what about asking for extra sec deposit?  that way if they do mess up floors, paint an awful color, etc i'm covered to fix their mistake?  is extra deposit half way through a lease unheard of?

Originally posted by @Jeff Duford :

@JD Martin that makes sense and these folks had owned a home previously and from what i've seen have taken pretty immaculate care of my home.  basically i trust this guy to do a good job.  what about asking for extra sec deposit?  that way if they do mess up floors, paint an awful color, etc i'm covered to fix their mistake?  is extra deposit half way through a lease unheard of?

 If you have to ask for extra deposit, then your answer should be no. It doesn't take a lot of figuring to see how they keep their house, their cars, their lives to know what kind of job they are going to do. People who pay the rent early, keep a neat house and car, dress appropriately, keep a job, etc. are probably not going to screw up your property. If your gut says otherwise, then you shouldn't let them do it.

I think it depends on the grade of tenants. If you have a high end rental, you'll have more deposit and tenants will be concerned about having bad credit and won't likely just take off and leave you hanging with repainting. 

Low income rentals - tenants don't ask - they just paint and you find out once you had to evict them for non-payment. 

I have artists now and just had to evict someone, who had painted everything in various colors. Doesn't look bad. I found another tenant already and I told him that he can paint, if he wants to, since the previous tenant just went ahead and did it. This new tenant is super happy that he's allowed to be creative and use his colors.