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    To Paint or Not to Paint: Should a landlord allow their tenant to paint?

    Experienced landlords have been asked the age old question, “Am I allowed to paint?” over and over from many potential tenants. For such a simple question, it’s amazing the strong polarized opinions of landlords from, “Sure, paint it neon green for all I care,” to, “Absolutely not, every wall must stay white!” However, tenants that wish to paint are more common than landlords that will allow it.

    One of the biggest benefits of allowing your tenant to paint is the sense of pride they will take in their rental space. Having put there own blood, swear and tears (well, hopefully not their blood) into painting the space to their liking and style will encourage the tenants to renew their lease and stay with you longer. The personal investment not only makes it harder for them to move, but will translate to your tenant taking better care of the property. The sense of ownership in the rental property will mean that tenants will treat the property like their home, not as somewhere there are simply residing for a set length of time.

    By having tenants stay longer then their original lease, you are saving yourself the time and money of having to find new tenants. If you took the time and care to find the right tenants already, it’s worth being a little flexible with paint if it means keeping the landlord-tenant relationship strong and getting that lease renewed.


    Many landlords like to give their rental space a quick paint before new tenants take possession, and in some states/municipalities, this is legally required. In these situations, you can save more time and money by having your tenant do the work for you. Supply the tenant with paint and supplies and relax with your feet up well they do the hard labor.


    Now for those landlords that aren’t comfortable handing over full control to the tenants, be it fear of their color choice or painting skill level that has you worried, try to reach a compromise. This compromise can range from deciding on a new color palette with the tenant together or limiting their want for bold color to a single accent wall. If you are worried about a s#!*ty paint job, consider discussing the cost of hiring a professional painter. Whatever the compromise that is reached, do make sure you include the agreed upon terms in the lease as an amendment.

    You should also make sure to discuss what actions will be required when the property is vacated. Is the tenant required to return all the walls to their original color and quality before vacating? If they don’t repaint or leave a messy paint job behind and the landlord is required to pay for professional painters, who is responsible for the cost and can it be deducted from the security deposit?  Whatever is decided upon should also be put in writing in the lease.

    Living room

    If you’re a landlord leaning towards not allowing the tenant to paint, consider offering the apartment already painted in a color scheme you are comfortable. Many paint providers offer pre-designed color pallets that are designed to go together and take the guess work out of coordinating paint colors. There are so many neutrals available nowadays, from soft grays to warm beige; that even the pickiest of landlord can find something that’s a bit more interesting then the traditional boring off-white. The pre-designed pallets offer some bolder colors as well, and make adding an accent wall a breeze and an accent wall is an easy way to give the rental space that designer feel.  Check out our Pinterest board To Paint or Not to Paint for accent wall and color pallet inspiration.

    When the only nationally accepted law about paint in a rental property is that it must be lead free, don’t allow a few coats to get between you and a great tenant.  Just make sure whatever you and the tenant agree upon is put in writing and signed!

    For additional thoughts and opinions on letting your tenant paint check out some of these links below.

    How Often Should Landlords Paint Properties
    Rental Decorating 101: 6 Tips for Painting Rentals
    Should I Allow my Tenant to Paint a Rental Property
    Is the Landlord Legally Required to Repaint Rental Units Between Tenants
    Sample Agreement with Landlord: Painting Rental Unit

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