Painting rental properties

As a professional property painter, I see a multitude of painting sins that are often the result of a cheeky little DIY job.

But what can make the issue even more heated is when the paint job in question has been done in a rental property… by the tenants.

Guest post – AJ Cochrane & Sons

And let me be the first to say – I get it! If I had a dollar for every time we have been called out to a job where the tenant has said, ‘It might be the landlord’s house, but it’s our home…’

When you’ve lived in your rental for a long time, it does feel like your home, and it can get a bit tedious looking at four beige walls for years on end. General wear and tear, which shows up on walls that haven’t seen a fresh paint of coat this decade, can start to make you feel like the home needs a bit of a revamp.

There are even times when (let’s face it) the kids have pulled out the Sharpies and decided to create a fantastic mural on the walls for all to appreciate. Have kids, they said – it’ll be fun, they said.

No matter what the reason might be – it is inevitable at some point during a tenancy that the request will come in for the home to be repainted.

Here’s some professional advice on why you should always leave painting to the experts and the correct steps to take should you want to see a change in your home when you’re a tenant.

Related articles:
Mould in rental properties – Who is responsible, landlords or tenants?
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Rental applications – What happens after you apply?

Always seek approval in writing

Before you pick up the phone and ask a painter to come and give you a quote, do your due diligence and follow the correct channels before changing the look of the property you’re renting.

First and foremost – you need to speak with your real estate agent. It’s even better if you can put your request for fresh paint in writing because it gives your agent a written record of a request for maintenance on the property. This way, they can then raise the matter again with the landlord, should the answer be a ‘no’ the first time you ask.

Putting your requests in writing means the agent will most likely respond to you in writing. This gives you a written record of the correspondence on the matter. It is important to remember that the owner will not accept all requests, and they don’t have to give you a reason they’ve declined it.

Do not attempt a DIY job

You might be thinking, what harm can a feature wall do? Or you might be attempting to cover up the previously mentioned sharpie mural that the kids have added to the living room.

Either way – DIY paint jobs can sometimes do more harm than good. Is the colour the right colour? Did you prime the walls before painting? Does the room have carpet or skirting boards that rogue drops of paint could damage?

As tempting as it can be to slap on a few coats of paint and pretend the wall looked like that before… don’t forget that real estate agents take photographs of the property before you lease it. When you vacate or have a routine inspection, your handiwork could be discovered and end up costing you a good chunk of the bond.

Your lease agreement will state that you must return the property in the same condition you received it in – be sure to report all damage and requests for maintenance to your agent to avoid a penalty at the end of your tenancy. 

Related articles:
Gutter cleaning: Who is responsible, landlords or tenants?
How to choose references for your rental application
Rental inspection checklist: Tips to organise your home

How to decorate your rental without breaking any tenancy laws

It’s important to remember that a standard lease agreement usually prevents the tenant from making any property alterations. That being said – there are ways to revitalise your home without making permanent changes to the property.

If you’re not a fan of the flooring – a big rug can add a pop of colour or texture to the room and help you to make it feel more homely. Another easy tip that freshens up any space is to introduce greenery. Live plants have added health benefits and can create a calming environment – but if your thumb isn’t green, there are some fantastic faux plant options available that will work just as well as the real deal.

If you want to make changes to the window furnishings or light fittings, it is still advisable to put the request in writing, but in most cases, minor repairs such as these are mutually agreeable.

Be sure to check what the landlord wants you to do with the existing blinds, curtains or light fittings – don’t assume that it’s okay to dispose of them. You may really love the new bright yellow curtains you installed throughout your home, but if the landlord wants the original curtains rehung, you will need to be able to oblige.

For more great ideas on temporary transformations, click here.

Stephen Cochrane
Stephen Cochrane

Stephen Cochrane is the Manager of A.J. Cochrane and Sons in Malaga, Western Australia. A.J. Cochrane and Sons is a family-owned painting company that was founded in 1933 by Arthur Cochrane. Today, the Cochrane family has positioned the business as one of the state's leading residential and commercial painting services providers. Third and fourth generation family members are now involved in the daily running of the business. A.J. Cochrane and Sons is a registered Master Painter.