Free Landlord-Tenant Painting Agreement  Template

Interior paint is both an aesthetic boost and practical need for rental properties, and landlords will have to deal with paint at some point in their management and maintenance duties. But there are some myths and misconceptions out there about painting rental units.
For those who have questions about how often landlords should paint, whether they should do it themselves or hire a crew and what kind of paint to use in the first place, this guide should help you get thinking about paint.

Landlord Responsibilities and Rights

There are no specific state laws, regulations, or guidelines regarding landlords and painting. New York City is the only exception since the local ordinance requires landlords to repaint the walls of a unit every three years. Landlords may need to paint them sooner if they become unsanitary through no fault the tenant. The ordinance also states that landlords are responsible for repainting the walls of the rental when the same tenants have lived there for several years in a row.

As a landlord, you also have the right to deny your tenant permission to paint the walls. You also have the power to reject paint colors and shades. The only instances in which you cannot reject a tenant’s request to paint the walls are when:

  • There is severe paint-related damage that makes the rental unit uninhabitable
  • The property is located in New York City and it’s been 3 years since it’s last been painted
  • Lead-based paint was detected in the unit and tenants want it changed as soon as possible

Beyond these responsibilities and rights, always keep your tenant’s wishes in mind, but make sure you outline specific conditions.

Deciding When to Paint

Landlords have many responsibilities but you can decide when to paint your rental property and how often. It’s important to find the balance between keeping the apartment looking fresh, new and lovely without spending a lot of money every time the unit turns over. Here are 5 things to consider that might help you decide to paint or not to paint:

  1. Evaluate the rental property once the tenant has moved out. You’ll be able to see any damage to the walls when the place is completely empty and can best evaluate whether rooms need paint or not.
  2. Clean the walls. Sometimes scuffs, smudges, dirt and oils can build up on the wall and a quick clean with mild soap and water can refresh the paint quickly. Magic erasers and spot scrubbers also work wonders on scuffs. Focus especially on door frames, window trim, around light switches and other high traffic areas. You might be surprised at how good the walls look when they are actually cleaned.
  3. Consider painting high traffic rooms only. If the bedrooms appear fine, but the living room has a lot of dings and dents, you can just paint the rooms that need it most. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing paint job.
  4. Your property needs a competitive edge. If your rental property is in a hard-to-rent area, your city is experiencing some economic downturns or you otherwise have a difficult time attracting quality tenants, new paint may be what you need to make your place stand out above the others.
  5. Use as a renewal incentive. To keep a good resident in place who has been there for several years, consider arranging for paint as a renewal incentive. Even after a few years, walls can look dull and lifeless, and a new paint job would make the tenant happy and keep the rental unit looking nice. When tenants have pride in their home, they take better care of it, so it’s a win-win for you.

Who Pays For Painting

For most landlords, it’s customary to repaint a rental’s walls between tenancies. You can expect the standard paint job to last you about a year. If you use good paint and do the job carefully, it may last you 3-5 years.

If tenants wish to repaint early on in their lease term, it’s reasonable to expect them to pay for paint and materials. Over the years, paint ages and loses its luster. Sometimes, old paint can cause a hazard to the property’s conditions and residents’ well-being. In this case, it would be the landlord’s job to handle repainting, since it’s essentially a maintenance issue.

As a landlord, you are also responsible for maintaining a habitable home. If the walls need to be repainted because of damage caused by the tenant, then the costs would be deducted from their security deposit or you could have the tenants pay up front.

It’s always a good idea to hear your tenant out and consider their requests. Negotiate with them and come up with a compromise. Oftentimes, the landlord will pay for the paint and supplies while the tenant puts in the time and effort (given that they do a good job).

These resources are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to seek specific legal advice for any of the issues as found in this blog.

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