Yes, tenants can decorate a rented property, but they must gain written permission from the landlord and complete the work to a required standard.

In this article, we go into more detail about how tenants must ask for permission and things you must do as a landlord to protect your property.

Requesting to decorate a rental property

Whether they’ve been living in your rental property for two years or two weeks, there’s always a possibility that tenants will want to put their own stamp on the place. For some tenants, this could mean small changes like replacing the light shades and curtains. For others, repainting the rooms to their own taste may be the action they want to take to make your house feel like their home.

However big or small the decoration, the tenant should write a letter to their landlord or letting agent with details of the proposed changes. The information tenants should include in the letter is:

  • Address of the property
  • Room(s) to be decorated
  • Colour(s) to be used
  • Materials to be used (paint/wallpaper) – including the exact brand and product number
  • Who will undertake the work? The tenant or a professional?
  • Will any current furnishings be replaced, and what will they be replaced with?
  • Will the woodwork be painted? If so, what colour?

Having everything in writing ensures that there is a lower chance of a dispute in the future and it’s good to have the documents on your records.

Should landlords accept or refuse the decoration request?

Just as tenants should ask for permission in writing, landlords should reply in writing. You should be very clear on what you will and will not accept to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Deciding whether to accept or refuse the decoration request is completely up to you. Bear in mind that a fresh lick of paint will add value to your rental property but bold colours may put off future tenants. Using neutral colours means that you won’t need to re-decorate when your tenants move out.

If your tenants request new wallpaper that is an acquired taste, there is a way to keep them happy whilst protecting your chances of attracting future tenants. You could accept the request but only under the condition that they return the property to its previous decor before they leave. If they fail to do this, they can be liable for the costs of re-decoration. Landlords can take this money from the tenants’ deposit so they’re not out of pocket.

If the tenant wants to make smaller changes like replacing soft furnishings, make sure they are packaged in air-tight containers and stored in a dry, dark place. This way, they will stay protected and you can bring them out when the tenants move out.

Why should you let tenants decorate?

Freshening up your property will not only add value to it, but it indicates that your tenants plan to stay long-term. If they’ve spent good money on materials and left a professional finish to the decoration, it’s clear that they take pride in their home.

Tenants that take pride in their home will look after it and maintain it. So when it comes to your routine inspections, it’s likely that you won’t have any nasty surprises. If your dream tenants stay long-term, this saves a lot of hassle for you as a landlord.

Acquiring new tenants involves endless admin, including a lengthy screening processletting agent fees and of course preparing the property. If accepting a tenant’s request to decorate is all it takes to make them stay long-term, you’ve got yourself a good deal.

Cover every last detail…

There’s a big difference between repainting the walls and ripping out kitchen units and knocking down walls. Although it’s unlikely that tenants will propose these sorts of changes, never say never.

Make sure that you add a decorating clause in the tenancy agreement and go into as much detail as possible about what is and isn’t acceptable. If you don’t want tenants to make holes in the walls, write it down. You could explain that you’re happy for them to use command strips instead.

If you decide that tenants can make changes as long as the property is left as it was found, detail the exact shade and brand of paint you want them to use. Going into the specifics will mean you get the outcome you want, and also protects you in the event of disputes.

Whilst you’re thinking about your rental property, have you taken out landlord insurance? This will protect you in the event of loss of rent, accidental damage, theft and more. With CIA Landlords, you can compare landlord building insurance quotes to find the best deal for your needs. Talk to our experts today on 01788818670 or get a quote now.

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