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Decorating the Rental: When You Should Allow Your Tenant to Get Creative and When Not To

As landlords, we want to please our tenants and encourage them to stay to avoid vacancies. One way to entice them is to make them feel at home. And in order for them to feel at home, they want to redecorate our rentals according to their tastes. This is something we’ll find hard to compromise on.

To make both parties happy and satisfied, it is important to draw some lines that won’t cause property damage and unnecessary costs. Below are a few examples to discuss with your tenant.

When to allow redecoration or repaint:

1.   Repaint if the paint is lead-based (Landlord expense)

Lead-based paint is harmful to people and laws require landlords to disclose which property areas are painted with it. If your tenant requests a repaint, it’s your obligation to pay for it. And to keep the tenant from staying, you two must agree on a paint color.

2.   Repaint if the paint is 3 years old or more (Landlord expense - NYC)

If you’re a New York landlord, your tenant has the right to make you repaint your property if the paint is 3 years old or more. You both can also agree on a paint color to keep both parties happy and satisfied.

3.   Repaint if the paint has visible damages (Landlord expense)

The paint can be damaged that can lead to a unit becoming uninhabitable. In this situation, the tenant also has the right to demand a repaint. And like the situations mentioned above, you both must agree on the new paint color.

4.   If you like the tenant and want them to stay

Some tenants are responsible and earn the respect of a landlord. If you have one model tenant, you have the right to allow them to make some redecorations. You can also opt to pay for some renovations if you want.

5.   If the tenant pays and you like their taste

Some tenants will offer to pay for repainting and redecoration. You can allow them to do so. If you like their plan and taste but have no problem with them doing some small redecorations to your property, go with their design.

When not to allow:

1.   If the tenant’s plan of redecoration is radical

There are tenants who might want to reposition the kitchen, living room, counters, or shelves. This could lead to major destruction, nuisance, and expensive costs. Every landlord and their property has the right to prevent disallow such radical requests.

2.   If the tenant’s plan of redecoration involves a lot of drilling

TVs, additional shelves, or paintings require wall drilling to be hanged. You can allow your tenant to be drilling in the property. But if you don’t, you can also stop them from doing so. Don’t worry, if the tenant does this without permission, you have the right to make them pay for wall repairs.

3.   If the tenant doesn’t agree on returning the unit to the original state

There is an option for landlords to allow tenants to make major renovations. One is to let a tenant sign an agreement that they will cover the costs of returning the rental to its original state before the lease ends. If the tenant fails to agree on this, you can prohibit them from making changes to your rental.

4.   If the tenant will change the flooring

Another major and unnecessary redecoration. Changing floor tiles are costly, time-consuming, and disruptive to everyone. You have the choice to prohibit this. Instead, advise your tenant to put a rug to avoid the costs of letting them pay on returning the floor to its original condition.

5.   If the tenant wants to repaint the exterior

Tenants have no right to repaint a unit’s exterior unless allowed. This right is heavily restricted to apartment complexes and newly painted single-family homes. Like any major and unauthorized redecoration penalty, landlords can still make a tenant pay to return the unit to its original appearance and state.

Be sure to always remind your tenant about their liabilities when they plan to make unauthorized redecorations. Encourage them to discuss their plans with you first so you can give better advice and settle on an agreement.

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