Should I let my tenant decorate?

This question often comes up at some point in a lease, especially if tenants have been living in a property for some time.
Good tenants consider your property their home, and like everyone, they often like to personalise their homes. There are some pros and cons to allowing a tenant to decorate your property:

Pros

  • Your tenant is happy and, unless there is a major change in their circumstances, it generally indicates your tenant wishes to stay long-term.
  • You get your property painted for free, or at a low-cost rate.

Cons

  • The quality of the painting and decorating may be questionable and may result in additional work to make the property presentable when they leave.
  • Your tenants’ décor may not be to everyone’s taste; black walls, wild patterns and obscure wallpaper could take a lot of work to get the property back to its original neutral style. Furthermore, particularly with older properties, the tenant may paint features inappropriately or use the wrong materials.

Communication is the key

As a landlord, you need to consider whether the risk of having bad décor outweighs the risk of losing a good long-term tenant.

And a lot does depend on the relationship the tenant has with the landlord/agency; in a good relationship, there is usually an element of trust the tenant will do a reasonable job and in character with the building if they do it themselves.

Communication is the key here.

There are ways in which you can protect both yourselves and still have a good outcome. For instance:

  • Decide who will be paying for the paint and other materials. If your tenant is paying, you run the risk of poor quality products been used. If you are paying for them, you will not only have a say on what is being used, but it may be a tax-deductible expense.
  • Ideally, have it in writing what the colour will be and what they will be painting.
  • Make it clear they either paint the walls back to the original colour when they leave themselves (and it’s to a good standard), or pay for a professional to do it. This can be as an addendum to a lease agreement.
  • Some landlords make it a condition tenants must use a professional to do any painting, or any costs needed to be done to rectify the décor will be taken from their bond.

Our tenant leases clearly state the property must be in the same condition as when they moved in; if the property is not in the same condition, and it can’t be attributed to general wear and tear you are within your rights to consider deducting the cost to rectify any outlandish decoration or damage from bonds.

While it’s advisable to redecorate between tenancies anyway, (and this is often a tax-deductible expense), look at all considerations and then decide on the way forward for your circumstances.

We’ve been managing properties for over 40 years now and know what to look out for and how to manage just about any situation; we have always believed in having a good relationship with our tenants so outcomes are positive for both the tenant and the landlord.

If you want to know more, come on in to our Cardiff office for a chat or give us a call on 02 4956 9777.

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