The topic of this post is should you allow a renter to paint? With 24 units, I come in contact with many renters. They all have their ideas of what a great place to rent looks like. They might want their boy’s room to be blue, and their girl’s room to be pink. I get asked all the time, “What do you feel about painting the bedrooms?”
When I first started as a landlord, I painted all my walls white. I painted any baseboards that were painted, white. I painted the ceiling white. Everything was painted using semi-gloss paint. I could literally have a roller and paint baseboard to baseboard, running across the ceiling, and not have to cut in any paint. It was fast, it was easy. No worry about getting paint on the trim, or a roller hitting the ceiling. No waiting in line for a special color to be mixed, I used a white paint right off the shelf. No worries about what color the next apartment to be painted was, it was white.
When you show an apartment, white walls, ceilings and baseboard are boring. It creates an institutional look. Renters get tired of seeing white walls. White matches everything, but it also gets dirty faster. So you need to have a better strategy than paint all the apartment walls white.
When I bought my third 4-plex, the wall colors in that apartment were a color by Sherwin Williams, called Interactive Cream. It was painted in flat, which covers any underlying colors or dirt very effectively. It is also a dirt magnet. You cannot wipe dirt off of a wall that is painted with flat paint.
Despite the flat sheen of the walls, I actually liked the color. It could have been most any lighter shade of color and it would have been better than white. But I did make the decision to use that color. At that time, I had four units painted in the cream, and eight units painted all white. As tenants moved out, I painted in the cream color. All were painted in semi-gloss. I learned how to paint fast and efficiently. I learned the value of a Purdy paint brush.
The cream covered better than white paint; and although the semi-gloss was a bit thinner than a flat paint, it is easier to keep clean. That saves a lot of time over re-painting an entire unit. Almost all of my units are now the semi-glass interactive cream paint; I only have a few long-time renters in a color and sheen other than that. Touching up a painted apartment is fast, and turnovers are easy.
Now, when a renter wants to re-paint a different color, I have a dilemma. If they paint a different color, they need to repaint it back to cream before they leave. If not, I am stuck with their color, and at some point I need to repaint that color, or paint with cream. I need to have another color of paint in my closet, or take a longer time turning the apartment repainting whatever is not painted in my standard color.
If the renter was a sloppy painter, I may have to replace carpet, or repaint the ceiling where they hit it with a roller. I may even have to re-paint the baseboard and door trim, or even the doors themselves, if the renter was extremely poor painter. That makes a one-day apartment turn near impossible.
I have had renters paint my rentals before. One used a deep red to paint some walls. One painted a knotty pine wood wall white; they painted over the wood and did a horrible job.
I have never seen a renter that was a great painter; and despite whatever they say, when it is time to move, they are trying to move out, not re-paint your place. You are lucky if they clean it, let alone re-paint it. They are there for a few years, maybe only one. Does it really need to be painted for that one year?
So, I explain what repainting means to my ‘system’. I say I really do not want anything painted. The colors are neutral, and match most anything. Use a picture on the wall to jazz things up. If you really want to paint, I need to be sure you paint it back to my color. I need to make sure you do it in a neat and professional workmanship manner. I need you to paint it to your color, and paint it back, before you leave. And if you do not, I need a larger deposit to hire a painter to do it. The painter might have to fix the mess they made. If they want to put up an extra $1,000 deposit, they can paint. So far, no one has wanted to paint that bad.
Here is another example of bad renter colors, click the picture to get the larger version for more detail. Pink, green, electric blue, fuchsia. All great tenant colors but a nightmare to repaint. And no one in their right mind wants to live there with these colors.
If you have to paint an apartment to get it rented with these colors, tack on a extra two months of vacancy. You cant even show it with these colors. Remember, great renters look 6-8 week out.
Renter Painting Advantages:
- Possible faster tenant decision to rent your apartment
- Longer Tenancy (maybe…)
Renter Painting Disadvantages:
- Another color to keep in stock, or repaint over
- The renter could be a sloppy painter, and ruin carpet and trim
- Slower apartment turn if you have to re-paint back to your stock color
Want to know how to paint properly? Read this post.
What is your policy for having tenants’ paint? If you are a renter, have you ever painted an apartment and what was the landlord’s policy? Did you re-paint when you left?