Letting tenants decorate

Letting your tenants decorate your buy-to-let property

Perhaps you have a tenant lined up who has hinted that they might like to redecorate your property, or maybe an existing tenant has asked if they can put up some shelves. Whatever the case, it’s hard to ignore nightmare visions of black ceilings, luminescent orange walls and trails of badly-drilled holes everywhere.

You can specify in an AST that tenants cannot decorate

It’s your property, and you can insist in the tenancy agreement that no decorating be done by the tenant. Whilst this is possible, however, you should remember that your property is someone else’s home – it is good practice to allow your tenant to put their stamp on your property, and it can even have some benefits.

Tenants asking to decorate can mean they want to rent your property long term

If you have a good tenant who pays the rent on time, looks after your property and is a delight for the neighbours, losing them can be a scary prospect! If your tenant wants to redecorate, it’s a safe bet that they want to stay put for a while longer.

Ask your tenant if they will decorate themselves or hire someone to do the work

Who’s to say that your tenant’s going to make a pig’s ear of things? Your property might be in need of a fresh lick of paint, and if your tenant is willing to do it for you – and do a good job of it – that’s one job you don’t need to worry about doing yourself.

Allowing a tenant to decorate might help you cut down on void periods

Generally speaking, a big redecoration will take place during a void period. This could lengthen the amount of time that your property is empty and you aren’t getting any rent. The obvious bonus of your tenant decorating for you is that they’re paying you rent whilst they do it!

Ues the tenancy agreement to make redecoration rules and terms clear from the start

There are also ways around the worst-case scenario (which is your property looking like the seventies exploded in it). You can make provisions for decorating in the tenancy agreement, but include the following conditions:

  • You must agree to any redecoration and, if necessary, the tenants must change the property to how it was before they leave. If they don’t, the cost of redecorating can be taken from their deposit.
  • Any fixtures on the wall must be left in place, or the drill holes filled and the wall repainted before the tenant leaves.

Landlords can ask for the original decor to be restored when the tenancy ends

Talk to the tenant about what they’d like to do. If you don’t like the sound of the improvements, advise them that the original décor will need to be restored before they leave. If you agree on the changes, let your tenant know that they’ll need to do a good job – no missed bits, no over-painting on the skirting or radiators – or it will still need to be restored. You should make an inspection after the redecoration is done to make sure you’re happy with everything.

Landlords need to agree with tenants about who should pay for the decorating materials

If the tenant is making changes that you intend to keep, it’s good practice to buy the needed materials for them (after all, they are doing the work for you).

Another pointer: if your tenant is going to be drilling, make sure that they know where there might be any wires or pipes that they should avoid. Don’t let your tenant do any plumbing or electrical work – these are your responsibility by law.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Buy to let mortgage rates are subject to change. Speak to our advisors for a mortgage illustration.

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