11 September 2017

The question of letting a tenant decorate a rental property can be a dilemma for landlords. Landlords want tenants to feel at home and personalise the property in the hope they’ll stay longer and maintain its condition. But on the other hand, you don’t want to be stuck trying to re-let a property that has been decorated with questionable taste!

In a recent survey carried out by insurance provider Endsleigh, tenants' desire to decorate was analysed and it was revealed that 43% of those taking part would be willing to pay a higher rent if they were permitted to decorate their rental property. If every landlord obliged in the UK obliged, Endsleigh calculates an extra £530m of revenue could be generated.

It seems that it’s just the little things which tenants would like to alter in their property. The top decorating desire was to be able to paint the walls a different colour in order to personalise each room, with hanging pictures and mirrors on the wall being another popular choice.

Something as simple as blu-tacking pictures to the wall was also something which tenants would like to do but are often not allowed. The potentially more damaging 'hanging a TV to a wall' also made an appearance in the top five decorative wishes.

The overwhelming majority of landlords do let tenants decorate a property but it is always worth considering the following:

  1. Agree on the colour scheme if you want it to be in keeping with the rest of the property. If this isn’t an issue for you, ask for the walls to be painted back to the original colour, or a neutral colour, before they leave. And make it clear that if it’s not returned as such, you will need to deduct the cost from their deposit.
  2. Make sure it’s written in the tenancy agreement, particularly if you’ve agreed a certain colour or paint type. If they do return the property with a bright green living room, you need written evidence to prove this wasn’t agreed. If you’ve agreed a décor change during the tenancy, create a signed addendum to the original agreement.
  3. Make sure you have a thorough inventory before they move in, as this will document any changes when they subsequently move out and will back up anything you’ve agreed in the tenancy agreement or addendum.
  4. Wait until the tenancy has reached 6 months and you are confident the tenants will be staying. Again, make sure anything agreed has been written and signed by both parties.
  5. Work with your tenant, agree as long as you buy the paint and brushes to ensure it will be a quality job. Help them pick the paint colours, or offer a range that you would be comfortable with.

 

As a landlord, if you’re willing to give way and be a little more lenient you could reap the benefits of happy tenants – who are likely to remain in situ for longer if their rental property feels like home.

That said, it’s vital that you create boundaries, and don’t let tenants think that you have given them decorative license to change everything about the property. Painting every room jet black or making dozens of holes in the walls could be quite problematic for you, so a clear line must be drawn.

With it being notoriously difficult to get onto the property ladder as supply continues to diminish, tenants are staying in their rental homes for longer. The findings revealed that 25% of renters said that they had been living in the same rental property for three years or more.

Long-term, happy tenants are of course every landlord's dream, so retaining your tenants should always be a priority.

With property prices going through the roof it’s harder than ever for first time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder and tenants are renting for longer and longer periods. Landlords are often reluctant to let their tenants decorate, but transforming a house into a home can benefit everyone involved.