By not precisely recording details of décor at the beginning of a tenancy agreement, landlords are falling into disputes with tenants.
Redecoration disagreements can also arise from landlords not clearly defining what a neutral paint colour is.
There are many disagreements of this kind, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
Landlords are advised to redecorate every three to five years.
Chair of the AIIC, Pat Barber, says: “As a general rule, responsibility for redecorating lies with the landlord.
However, lots of disputes are presented where parties agreed to the tenant redecorating, but the precise details were not clearly defined.
“Landlords can be shocked to find the walls have been painted jet black or bright red, rather than the desired neutral magnolia or white.
“We have been involved with numerous disputes over décor. Recent cases feature a bedroom, which the tenant had been given permission to redecorate. However, he created beautiful Lion King murals on all walls. At the end of 12-month tenancy, the landlord needed to re-let the property, but this room was now firmly designated as a small child’s room due to décor.
“As a result, although the walls were in a really good condition, the tenant had to pay for complete redecoration.
Barber continues: “Another case involved four mature and professional sharers. One of them decided to repaint the lounge, with the landlord’s permission and a stipulation that it had to be in a neutral colour.
“At the end of the tenancy, the lounge had been repainted in a dark purple. Fortunately, the inventory clerk stated the original colour and condition, and even though the original décor had been fairly marked, the tenants were made to pay for complete redecoration to return the room to the original neutral colour. The adjudicators agreed with the landlord that purple walls would impair the search for new tenants.
“Even when a tenant repaints in the correct or authorised colour scheme, there are still problems. We see instances of bad paint application, very patchy walls, and paint spills on fixtures and fittings, carpets and curtains, all of which the tenants will be responsible for at the end of the tenancy.”1
The AIIC has compiled some guidelines to aid letting agents and landlords to avoid disputes:
- Provide a detailed report of the décor of the whole property with descriptions and photographs when the tenant moves in.
- The tenancy agreement should clearly explain that any changes to the property must only be done with the landlord’s permission.
- If tenants would like to redecorate, this should be requested in writing, with any authorised colour schemes.
- If permission is given to the tenant to redecorate, a clause should be included that states the landlord’s right to return a room to its original colour if unauthorised colours are used by tenants.