Should You Let Tenants Redecorate?

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No matter whether someone rents or buys a property, they want it to feel like home. It should come as no surprise when your tenants ask to make cosmetic and even structural changes to the property. Most of the time, it’s a good sign that they intend to live in their rental for a long time, but that doesn’t mean you should always let them redecorate.

What Do Your Tenants Want to Change?

It’s highly unlikely that your renters will ask to make big, expensive changes. Most changes they ask to do themselves will be cosmetic in nature. They expect you to take care of the big renovations – that’s why they rent.

Most of the time, when a tenant asks if they can redecorate their rental, they’re talking about painting the walls. You might get a renter who wants to change light fixtures, hang shelves, or even change the flooring. They may ask to lay a new patio or deck in the backyard or repaint the back porch. You never really know what someone might want to change or update.

You Can Set the Rules

If you’re imagining avocado floors and purple walls, don’t worry. There’s no requirement that you have to allow tenants to make changes. Your lease agreement should spell out the process about how to handle these requests. The first step should be to ask you first. After that, it’s up to you.

● You can require that they hire a licensed professional to do the work.
● You can require your approval before any changes are made.
● You can select paint colors they can choose from.
● You can buy the materials yourself so you know what’s being used to do the job.
● You can require they repaint the walls or fill in holes in the wall when they move out – or lose part of their deposit.

And ultimately, you don’t have to allow them to make changes. Instead, you could consider their requests for future upgrades you already have planned.

3 Reasons to Say Yes

Most landlords envision DIY home projects gone wrong and being stuck with the cost to change things back. Those are valid concerns, but there are also good reasons to say yes to a tenant who wants to make small changes.

1. Tenants who put their “mark” on a home often want to rent long-term.
2. Small, simple changes are easy ways to make a tenant feel at home and happy.
3. Their suggestions or requests may actually improve the property and increase the value.

If you don’t have a blanket policy in place, consider the tenant. Are they careful, easy to talk to, and receptive to what you tell them? Renters who understand your concerns and work with you on their plans are likely going to take care of the property just like you would.

4 Reasons to Say No

Not sure what you should do? If the idea of letting a tenant paint walls or build a back patio makes you uneasy, you’re not alone. There are perfectly valid reasons to refuse their request.

1. Your tenants may do a sloppy job requiring more work later.
2. They may build something unstable that you might be liable for.
3. They may select colors or styles that you don’t like.
4. They could leave the job unfinished which will pose a problem for you when they move out.

To avoid confusion and hassles later, especially if you feel strongly that you don’t want tenants redecorating, create a policy and include it in all of your lease agreements. This will cut down on requests you’ll have to deny later.

There’s no one right answer to the decoration question. You have to do what is best for you and your properties. If you’d rather let someone else deal with these questions, work with a property management company who has heard every tenant request and knows how to advise you on the best course of action. Work with ERA American Real Estate.

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