Landlord/Tenant Relations: Can I Paint

It's important to engage in effective landlord and tenant relations in order to ensure that both parties remain happy. When a tenant moves into an apartment, they generally sign a lease promising to keep the apartment in the same condition as it was upon move in. While the tenant may want to change a few things to make the place more personalized, a landlord may not want permanent and semi-permanent changes to the property. Painting is one area where tenants and landlords often do not see eye to eye. However, with effective communication, the issue can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

Many landlords keep units painted white, because it looks light and fresh and makes a room look bigger. It is also neutral and goes with any kind of décor, so when a landlord is showing a rental, the prospective tenants can envision the place with their own belongings in it. Making the unit look bigger gives a big psychological boost to a prospective tenant as they feel they are getting a lot of space for their rent money.

A tenant may want to paint the unit a different color to make the place more decorative or appear fresher. However, a landlord is only required to make a unit inhabitable and may not want to put out the money to paint the place unless it really needs it. However, in order to make the tenant happy, the landlord should be open to talks concerning painting the apartment.

If you are a tenant who wants new paint in your rental unit, approach the landlord with the reasons it would be a good idea to allow you to paint. One thing to point out might be how long you've lived in the unit. If you've been there for a few years, it will add strength to the proposal. Also, determine if the unit was painted before you moved in. If the paint job was adequate back then, it's possible the landlord would be interested in updating the paint if it's been 4 or 5 years. Point out your excellent and reliable rent history-you've had on-time payments, done little damage to the unit and been a quiet neighbor. Depending on the landlord's stance, you could perhaps volunteer to either do the labor yourself or pay for a portion of the fee for professional painters. Point out that you will be more likely to stay in a unit that is upgraded every so often.

Landlords should consider what it takes to keep a good tenant in your rental, especially if you are struggling to keep tenants. In a rental market that has an abundance of units, the tenant always has the choice to go elsewhere and it might be a beneficial decision to allow the unit to be painted. Many landlords have a rewards program for tenants based on rental history and longevity in a unit, including new carpet and fresh paint. This encourages a tenant to stay in their current unit and not miss out on a newer look and more updated features that competing rentals might offer.

If a tenant decides to paint without permission from the landlord, the landlord is within his rights to keep the security deposit upon move out. Since the security deposit is meant to restore the unit to the state it was when originally rented, keeping it to paint the unit is completely appropriate.

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