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Buy-to-let landlord redecoration tips: how often should you redecorate a rental property?

3-minute read

Josh Hall

16 January 2018

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There is no fixed timescale in which you should redecorate your rental property. However, many landlords choose to redecorate around once every five years, and generally at the end of long tenancies.

However, it’s not always clear who should be doing the redecorating, and who bears the cost – but it is certain that doing some simple work to your property can increase the value of your rental.

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Here, we’ve answered some of the most common questions regarding redecorating a rental property.

Who is responsible for decorating a rental property?

The landlord is normally responsible for decorating a rental property. It is rare that the tenant is required to redecorate at the end of a tenancy, although this provision is sometimes included in a tenancy agreement.

However, in the event that the tenant damages the interior decoration of the property, you may be able to withhold part of the deposit in order to pay to have it repaired. But keep in mind, if redecoration is needed because of normal wear and tear, this is the landlord’s responsibility and you will need to bear the financial cost – you cannot withhold part of the deposit for this reason.

Sometimes, a tenant may ask if they can redecorate the property themselves. This can be a difficult decision for landlords: on the one hand, it may be tempting to have your property spruced up. But on the other, there is a risk that the tenants will decorate in such a way as to make the property less appealing to future tenants, or will do a poor job.

Either way, tenants should not redecorate themselves without seeking permission from the landlord in advance.

5 top landlord decorating tips

If you’re getting ready to redecorate your rental property, try some of these top tips to make the process as smooth as possible.

- Go for neutral colours. Too daring a colour on the walls and you’re likely to put off potential new tenants. If in doubt, stick with white.

- Invest in quality appliances. Spending a bit more on appliances, especially in the kitchen, can make financial sense in two ways: first because they will often last longer, and second because they might help you secure a higher rent.

- Keep records. If you can prove when a property was redecorated or an item replaced, you’ll be in a much better position in the unfortunate event of a tenancy deposit dispute.

- Think carefully before letting tenants redecorate. You don’t know if their tastes will align with yours – but most importantly, you don't know if their tastes will suit the lettings market more generally.

- If you’re looking for new tenants, invest in great pictures. A professional photographer will pay for themselves many times over, and if you’re letting through an agency they may even throw this in as part of the service.

Want more? Read our top rental property renovation tips.

How often should a landlord paint?

There’s no legal timescale for repainting a rental property. However, it’s wise to keep your property in good condition, both for the benefit of your current tenants and in order to make it easier to attract new ones.

Many landlords recommend repainting (or completely redecorating) once every five to six years. If you have long-term tenants it can be disruptive to redecorate during the tenancy, so you should make sure that you negotiate times carefully and sympathetically.

How often should a landlord replace carpet?

The frequency with which you replace carpet will depend on the quality of the item that you choose. MyDeposits, one of the government-authorised deposit schemes, makes clear that tenants will be able to fight any deposit dispute if it can be shown that items like carpet were subject to normal wear and tear, especially if they are not at the end of their expected life.

Even if a carpet is damaged so badly that you have to replace it before the end of its normal lifespan, you may not be able to claim back the full cost of replacement from the deposit held.

Do you have any great rental redecoration tips? Let us know in the comments.

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