Image of a key in a door.

It’s up to you as a landlord how often you decorate a rental property, but the norm for many is to give the space a refresh once every five to six years. The best time to do this is in between tenancies when your property is empty. 

A freshly painted and redecorated property is likely to get snapped up in the rental market much quicker. Plus, it makes moving day feel extra special for your newbies if the place is looking smart and new!

So, what should be on your to-do list when decorating a rental property and to what extent should you go to? Let’s explain.

Image of a female painting a home.

Rental decorating checklist

On the whole, when decorating a rental property, the following jobs should be on your checklist:

  • Repainting
  • Recarpeting
  • Replacing kitchen fittings 
  • Replacing appliances

When it comes to decorating and redecorating, some jobs are bigger than others. Repainting, for instance, can be a reasonably speedy job depending on the extent that needs doing. You may want to do this between every tenancy. 

Recarpeting can be a bigger and more expensive job to tackle, so you may only want to do this when absolutely necessary. Old carpets can retain odours, making a property smell less than fresh. Depending on the quality of your carpet, consider replacing these anywhere from every five years to every ten years. 

If a tenant has left stains and marks on a carpet, you may be able to charge them for a deep clean or a replacement. Just be careful not to get this confused with fair wear and tear. Reasonably speaking, your carpets aren’t going to be in the same state that they were when you handed over the property. There may be some wear and marks but anything extensive or stained should be able to be deducted from their deposit.

Replacing kitchen fittings and appliances on the other hand can be a bigger and more expensive job to tackle, so you may only want to do this when absolutely necessary. Again, any broken appliances may be able to be deducted from a tenant’s deposit and the money used to purchase a replacement. 

How should I decorate my rental property?

Everyone has different and individual tastes, but as a landlord, you need to cater to the masses when making decor choices in your rental property. We recommend sticking to neutral colours throughout the home such as white, beige, grey and black. Bright colours can put tenants off the space.

When updating fixtures, fittings and appliances, always opt for quality. You might be tempted to choose the cheapest items when kitting out your rental, especially as these are items that you personally won’t get to enjoy! But you know what they say – buy cheap, buy twice. Good quality appliances should see you through a number of tenancies and withstand plenty of use.

Once you’ve decorated your rental property and fitted any new appliances, take photos to keep in an inventory and make a record of when the work was carried out. You can refer back to this in the event of any damage to try and determine whether it is reasonable fair wear and tear or not and to leave you in a much better position should you need to make deposit deductions for damage. We also recommend holding onto any receipts for paint and the like so that you can use them to claim for expenses in your next self-assessment tax return.

Who is responsible for decorating a rental property?

Unless they specifically request to and you’re happy for them to do so, a tenant wouldn’t be responsible for decorating a rental property. This responsibility usually falls to the landlord at the end of a tenancy. 

As previously mentioned, the only time when some responsibility would fall onto the tenant is if they have damaged the interior of the property and this is why decorating is necessary. This could be water damage from flooding a bathroom by overrunning the bath, a pet causing scratch marks on kitchen cabinets and walls or make-up stains and burn marks on carpets.

In these instances, you should be able to deduct money from a tenant’s deposit to cover repairs. It will likely still be your responsibility to arrange the repair and/or purchase the replacement item.

Image of an inventory list.

Should I let my tenant decorate a rental property?

If a tenant does ask if they can decorate the property themselves and you agree, just ensure that you set some boundaries around the extent of the changes they can make. This might involve a discussion about the colours that they can use to paint the walls and the tradesmen they use for the work, if any. The last thing you want is for your tenant to do a bad job and potentially devalue the property. 

If they are going to make the property look better in the long run, however, then it’s a win-win situation. Your tenant gets to put their own stamp on the place and it’s one less job for you to do. Small paint jobs, replacing curtains, lights and the like are probably safe jobs to let your tenant carry out if they wish. Avoid letting tenants handle major jobs such as wallpapering, plastering, new flooring or full renovations.

No matter how welcoming your rental property looks, you can’t guarantee protection from accidental damage, malicious damage, theft and the like. The best thing you can do to protect your investment is to take out landlord insurance. With CIA Landlords, you can compare quotes to find the best deal for your needs. Talk to our experts today on 01788818670 or get a quote now.

We won't be beaten on any like for like landlord insurance quote.

Get a quote