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Who Is Responsible for Painting the Rental?


After years of going to small claims court as a property manager against tenant interior paint damages, judges generally award tenants with a win. Judges generally cite if the damages to painted walls can be covered with a new paint job, then the landlord must accept the minor damage as "normal wear and tear". If scuffs, scratches, marks and tiny nail holes can be covered over by a new coat of paint then the landlord assumes the responsibility of refreshing the paint. Simple right?


We had a rental with a family with young boys. The boys were pretty wild and would climb the white pillar/supports of the second story. The floorplan had open, high ceilings and one boy would hold the other while "walking upside down" over the walls and ceilings. There were dirty shoeprints all over the walls and the ceilings. The supports were dirty from the kids shinnying up and down the white supports. Shoe prints were everywhere on all the walls and ceilings! The tenants were sued for the damages and went to Small Claims Court. After showing the judge the photos and obvious neglect, the judge said the walls and ceiling were not damaged and only needed painting. The judge awarded the win to the tenants!


However, tenants don't always win the painting disputes.


Who pays for the whole house interior repaint if the tenants were heavy smokers? The smoke damage yellows the entire interior of the property, including the ceiling, doors, vents, and floors. Additionally, the smoke has a heavy odor and permeates the drywall, wood, and paint. Smokers repaints often require a Kilz basecoat primer/sealer and then the color paint. This means the house is essentially painted twice, once to prime and seal, and then the color coat. Very expensive repaint. Heavy vaping is also coating the interior with syrupy flavorings and scents. Costs to repaint are similar to smoker's damage. Tenants pay for smoking and vaping repaints.


Tenants neglectful of not reporting plumbing leaks can be held responsible for discolored ceilings and walls if the water damage is ignored. Short-term stains from leaks will leave water stains but if reported on a timely basis the tenants will not be held responsible. However, if the leak is visually apparent and the tenant was too lazy to report the damage, sometimes for year, the tenant is held responsible for the neglect.


If a tenant repaints an all-white interior with a pink bedroom for his daughter or all black for his Goth teenager, often the tenant is forced to repay the damage to prime coat the darker color and repaint the rooms.


Tenants don't always win the painting disputes!


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