Are we obliged to paint our rental property because the tenants request it?

Property Clinic: We refurbished before a recent changeover of tenants

We have a rental property that we refurbished before a recent changeover of tenants. The tenants are now asking that we paint the property, and as we don’t believe it is necessary we have told them that if they wish to carry out the work themselves we will pay for the materials. However, they are insisting that we pay for professional painters.

They are good tenants, and we want to keep relations cordial, but we cannot afford the painting costs on top of what we have already paid for the refurbishment. Are we obliged to arrange the painting?

This is a very good question. It very much touches on the formal obligations of a landlord versus what a landlord decides to do in order to retain good relations with their tenants.

In your case and for the sake of answering this question, I am going to assume that when you say you got the property refurbished it also included a total redecoration internally, including painting all the walls, ceilings, doors and door frames. On top of that I am also going to assume that when you say a “recent” changeover of tenants this major work was done in the last 12 months.

If those two assumptions are correct then the short answer is that, no, you are not legally obliged to suddenly repaint the property because the tenant has decided they want a change of colour scheme. When they viewed the property before signing into a lease agreement they were fully aware of how the property was presented and what the decorative colour schemes and quality of the paint job was. Making a request to repaint the property is simply unfair and unreasonable in these circumstances.

Sometimes, if a tenant has been living in a property for a number of years (three to five years) and if the property had not been painted during that period or longer then a landlord might decide to cover the cost of repainting. Not only would it assist with good landlord and tenants relations, but it should be viewed as an investment in keeping the property in good order.

My advice in these circumstances would be as follows. Inform the tenants that you have no legal obligation to change the decorative characteristics of the property just because they now want to change them and that your offer to pay for the materials is more than fair and reasonable. I would also be honest and simply tell them that due to the large expense of the major refurbishment that you are not in a financial position to pay for a professional painter.

Finally, if the tenants wish to proceed, ensure they hire a professional craft painter. If they paint the property themselves to save on costs, you could end up having to employ a painter after they leave to rectify their poor workmanship.