How are you painting your rental property? This may seem like a simple question, but I see so many variations of how landlords handle one of the most important updates. It is one of the first things that prospective tenants will notice when you are showing the house. Why would you leave this up to chance? Below are some tips and tricks to not only making the process easier, but also making your rental property more appealing.
Painting between tenants
I rarely have a unit that is perfect enough after a tenant to be rented as is.
- If the property was recently painted using my standard colors, I will often try to simply touch up the walls and trim. The ceilings get done every 4-5 years depending if I have smokers.
- Always, always find a standard paint color and stick to it. Even if it takes you years to convert your units, keep on it. It will save you time, money and hassle in the long run. I to into may different properties that have 4-5 colors on the walls. This is too much to manage. Just get to one color.
- Stick to a neutral beige color. I had 2 units I was leasing this month that had fresh paint jobs. Multiple tenants walked into both units and they asked if they could repaint since the color was so feminine. Stay away from blue, red or yellow.
- I use Benjamin Moore Lulled Beige for all my walls in an eggshell finish. Because I use the same paint color on all my units it is pretty easy to roll the walls and not have to cut in every time.
- The amount of time I have during my turnover may also determine how much I paint it (versus just touching up). If my handyman has time, I will often have him roll the walls as necessary. If there are other rehab or maintenance to do, again, it may change the amount of paint we are doing at the turnover.
- Do not paint your woodwork bright white. While is looks awesome, it will show every fingerprint. Find an off-white or consider painting it dark brown.
- I do have some friends that paint their walls dark tan (much darker than my Lulled Beige).
- Lastly, putting a fresh coat of paint on some of the main walls, may make your home easier to rent. A dark or drab or dirty interior can turn off tenants even if they don’t (or can’t) verbalize why they don’t like the house.
Normal Wear & Tear vs Repainting
I wish there was a perfect answer to the question “when are scuffs and dirty walls more than normal wear and tear that you should back-charge the tenant for?”. I find this to be difficult. Much of it may depend upon how long they have been in the property. Someone that has been there 5 years should have more wear and tear than someone in there just 1 year.
If the apartment is otherwise perfectly clean when they move out and it appears they were trying to be careful and do the best they could, then NO, I don’t charge them. Alternatively, I know other landlords that want the unit in the same perfect condition as when the tenant moved in and will charge the tenant for any marks. You need to find your happy medium. Remember you should document your charges with pictures in case the tenant takes you to court claiming foul. Plus, you should set the expectations up front upon move-in so the tenant understand what they need to do.
Consider wiping down the walls instead of repainting. If you use eggshell or better, you should be able to get some mileage out of a simple wipe down of the woodwork and walls instead of repainting everything.
Are Tenants Always Hard on the Paint?
It is not impossible to have a tenant that treats your rental like you treat your own home, but you need to search. One option you do have when screening tenants, is to require an on-site inspection of their existing apartment. Write up a 100 point scoring system to keep it completely legit and legal. When you walk through, give them points for how clean the stove is (is it full of grease or is clean), how clean in the bathroom, are there clothes everywhere, what do the walls look like? Using this scoring system and more importantly, getting into their current rental will tell you loads about how they will maintain your place. You will be surprised at what a tenant calls “I just cleaned my apartment” and what you may call it. Hopefully you are pleasantly surprised like my friend whose tenant tells him to take off his shoes if he is coming in the door!
Allowing Tenants to Paint
I see this happen to new landlords often. A tenant moves in and asks if they can paint a room or wall. Unfortunately, the new landlord agrees and 90% of the time, the tenant does a terrible job or chooses a bad color. Now you are in a tough spot. Legally, because the landlord agreed and probably nothing was in writing regarding colors or workmanship, the landlord can NOT take any money from the damage deposit. I rarely get this request from my tenants because I maintain my investment properties well and most are repainted prior to the new tenant moving in. When I do get the request, I turn the tenant down, unless they have professional painting experience (which is almost never).
You may have an amazing kitchen and shiny new hardwood floor and a great backyard, but if the walls are painted poorly or the wrong color, you may be missing opportunities to get your rental property filled quickly.