How Often Should Your Rental Properties Be Painted

Painting rental propertyInterior paint is both an aesthetic boost and practical need for rental properties, and landlords will have to deal with paint at some point in their management and maintenance duties. But there are some myths and misconceptions out there about painting rental units.

The Appeal of Fresh Paint

The smell of fresh paint and the look of bright new walls is highly attractive to the occupants of any home. When you are trying to find qualified tenants for your rental property, a coat or two of fresh paint can make the place look newer and seem brighter. It’s a real psychological boost for applicants to tour a newly painted rental property because it is more appealing than a worn and dingy one.

New paint is also a fairly affordable thing that landlords can do that gives them a real bang for the buck when it comes to making a rental property look amazing. When there are dings, nicks, dents and holes in the wall, it’s easy enough to repair them, but with a coat of paint, you won’t even know that there was a problem to begin with. All these reasons and more are why landlords generally paint more frequently than the average home owner does.

Are Landlords Required to Paint Between Tenants?

Only in a few places is it required by law for landlords to paint a rental between tenants. While many landlords choose to do it for marketing and aesthetics, they are not compelled to do so. Worn or scuffed paint is not considered a hazard and doesn’t affect the warranty of habitability. That being said, many qualified tenants may pass on a property that isn’t freshly painted for cosmetic and aesthetic reasons, making it more difficult to attract the best applicants.

When to paint a rental unit is usually at the owner’s discretion, and as long as the property is safe, cosmetic things are not mandatory to do for every turnover. Due to cost and inconvenience, most landlords paint every 3 to 5 years and try to coincide that with a turnover. Because painting is such a hassle for both the painters and the occupant, and empty rooms are much easier to paint than with furniture and belongings, many landlords choose to paint between tenant occupancies.

Paint Durability

A professional paint job should last approximately 5 - 7 years according to the experts. Of course, scuffs, chips and marks are a normal part of wear and tear. As long as the walls are in good condition, you can choose to put off repainting for as long as possible. It’s always a good idea to repaint if the rooms are looking dated, the walls are scuffed, nicked or damaged beyond cleaning, or when you want a new color.

If there are holes in the wall or ceiling, many landlords take the opportunity to repair the problem area and repaint over it. As long as you are repainting one area, you may as well complete the wall or the room, depending on time and materials. Otherwise the new paint will be much brighter and cleaner than the older paint and be more unsightly.

Deciding When to Paint

As a landlord, you can decide when to paint your rental property and how often. It’s important to find the balance between keeping the unit looking fresh, new and lovely without spending a lot of money every time the unit turns over. Here are 5 things to consider that might help you decide to paint or not to paint:

1. Evaluate the rental property once the tenant has moved out. You’ll be able to see any damage to the walls when the place is completely empty and can best evaluate whether rooms need paint or not.

2. Clean the walls. Sometimes scuffs, smudges, dirt and oils can build up on the wall and a quick clean with mild soap and water can refresh the paint quickly. Magic erasers and spot scrubbers also work wonders on scuffs. Focus especially on door frames, window trim, around light switches and other high traffic areas. You might be surprised at how good the walls look when they are actually cleaned.

3. Consider painting high traffic rooms only. If the bedrooms appear fine, but the living room has a lot of dings and dents, you can just paint the rooms that need it most. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing paint job.

4. Your property needs a competitive edge. If your rental property is in a hard-to-rent area, your city is experiencing some economic downturns or you otherwise have a difficult time attracting quality tenants, new paint may be what you need to make your place stand out above the others.

5. Use as a renewal incentive. To keep a good tenant in place who has been there for several years, consider arranging for paint as a renewal incentive. Even after a few years, walls can look dull and lifeless, and a new paint job would make the tenant happy and keep the rental unit looking nice. When tenants have pride in their home, they take better care of it, so it’s a win-win for you.

When you find the balance between applying new paint at turnover and letting it go, you can feel confident that your paint schedule will be best for your property, your business and your tenants.