A Landlord’s Guide to Essential Decorating

If you’re a landlord decorating a rented property for tenants, it’s very different from your own home. Looking for ideas you like on Pinterest and adding personal touches is unnecessary, as it might even alienate a percentage of potential tenants.

The reason for decorating a buy-to-let property is to make it appealing to tenants. The fact it has your hallmark designs stamped all over it may mean it’s less attractive to other people. The saying “less is more” is true, as you’re best sticking to a neutral design and colour scheme for wider appeal.

A Landlord’s Guide to Essential Decorating

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It’s also important to keep to your budget.

Also, take into account the fact not all tenants will look after the property, so if you’ve spent hours painstakingly painting your walls and doors with the latest bespoke designer paints, it will be disheartening if you find someone’s toddler has crayoned all over them.


What is required from a landlord when decorating a property?

Think of your buy-to-let home as a blank canvas that future tenants can make their home. It’s better to use a simple colour scheme, so you can buy that five-litre tub of magnolia and have a uniform look throughout. Although the interior needs to be decorated and habitable, it doesn’t have to look like something out of Ideal Homes magazine.

It’s easier and more cost-effective to paint the walls, rather than hanging wallpaper. If you use a common shade, it’s simpler to touch up when needed, rather than having to search for the unusual wallpaper you once bought.

Before you start painting, look out for damp. If you find any, you must treat it before you do anything else. Don’t be tempted to paint over it, as it will come back quicker than you think and can be a health hazard, creating unacceptable living conditions.

It’s the landlord’s legal responsibility to make sure a rental property is free from damp and mould. If the problem is particularly bad, you may need to hire an expert to treat it before you can decorate. This will be money well spent. Damp can knock thousands of pounds off a property’s value, so tackling the problem early on will protect your investment.


How often should a landlord redecorate?

There isn’t a fixed timescale for how often a landlord needs to redecorate. Some landlords choose to decorate around every five years, or at the end of each tenancy.

It is normally the landlord’s responsibility to decorate the property and it is rare for the tenant to be asked to redecorate, unless it is written into their tenancy agreement. In the event that the tenant damages the decor, the landlord might be able to withhold part of their deposit to cover the costs.

If normal wear and tear have simply left the property looking a little shabby, it’s down to the landlord to spruce it up and bear the financial costs. Although a tenant can ask the landlord to decorate if they feel some areas are looking tired, there’s no legal requirement for the landlord to oblige.

If a tenant offers to redecorate the property themselves, it can be difficult to say no if they wish to pay for the materials too. However, although it may seem tempting to have your property decorated for you, the tenants may make it less appealing if they do a poor job and you may have to put it right at some point afterwards.

You could suggest the shade you would like them to use, if you agree to let them decorate, to avoid disasters later. A survey of tenants by Endsleigh Insurance revealed 25% of them had been in the same rented property for more than three years. Almost half (43%) said they would be willing to pay more rent if the landlord would let them decorate.

However, less than one-third of private sector landlords said they would permit tenants to decorate. Unfortunately, 20% of tenants said they were embarrassed to invite people round because they disliked the decor of their property so much.

Although there is no law governing the frequency of decorating, most reputable landlords will reach an amicable agreement with tenants, especially long-term ones, on when it will be done.


Decorating before viewings

If your property is vacant, you should decorate it before letting potential new tenants view, as this is the key to attracting the standard of tenants you want. If the house has been lived in for some years and is looking somewhat tatty overall, this will deter people.

You can decorate fairly quickly and simply, making the interior look clean and new again. This is also a good time to replace any items of furniture that are looking tired due to normal wear and tear. If the existing tenants have damaged any of your fixtures and fittings through their negligence, you may be able to reserve the money from their deposit. However, if it’s down to normal usage, the landlord must foot the bill.


How can a landlord decorate multiple properties?

If your portfolio is small, with only one or two buy-to-let properties, decorating and keeping them looking fresh and clean is relatively easy, but if you have multiple properties, it can become more time consuming and expensive.

Keep a look-out for brands running periodic promotions on paint. This often occurs at specific times, such as Easter, or at the start of summer, when people may feel more like decorating. Stock up then and buy in bulk, so you can keep the extra paint for when you need it.


What about furnished properties?

Whether your buy-to-let property is furnished or unfurnished, the landlord must maintain the decor to a good standard.

When it comes to renting out furnished properties; you must be sure the furniture meets the required fire safety standards. As a landlord, you may also attract more tenants with a furnished property, as they will be able to move straight in.

If you’re a landlord, take advantage of a professional supplier of furniture packages and buy-to-let furniture, such as Furniture Pack Solutions.

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