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Lease agreement & painting rental unit

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Withholding partial deposit fee for not following the lease agreement in terms of painting. 

 

Our tenants painted two walls a dark/navy blue and one room with the chair rail a teal and yellow..chair rail was bought to be espresso and they painted it white. 

 

Within the signed lease, we stated that painting was acceptable but that it must be painted white or tan when the lease has been terminated.  

 

We were advised to charge a crazy fee for painting but decided to only charge a portion for it instead. The tenants are arguing that the walls were not white or tan to begin with but this is because verbally they said they prefer to paint anyway..which is why we decided to put within the contract that they were welcome to paint as long as it was tan or white when the lease is up.  No previous tenants even touched the walls in our unit so this is a new battle for us and we want to make sure we do the right thing for both parties.

 

Are we, as MN landlords, legally allowed to put in the lease that the tenant can paint as long as it's painted a certain color when vacating? And if the tenant does not comply, are we legally able to withhold part of the deposit?

 

Since this is such a headache, we feel going forward, we will not allow future tenants to paint due to the frustration of having try a paint over the choice of colors. 

 

Any guidance or advice is much appreciated. 

 

Thank you. 

 

 

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Hi @MNlandlord

 

Welcome to the community and thanks for posting! As a landlord you are certainly allowed to include certain provisions in leases about paint colors. Some leases prohibit painting altogether. And, if the tenant does not return the walls to the original color, you can deduct from the security deposit for painting (although be sure to get a written estimate of the work, and provide an itemized list of deductions to your tenant). Your lease should also be explicit about how you expect the walls to be painted when tenants move out, and your remedies if the provision is violated. Check out these blog posts and articles we have on the topic:

 

Best of luck and let us know if you have additional questions!

The FindLaw.com Team

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26 minutes ago, MNlandlord said:

We were advised to charge a crazy fee for painting but decided to only charge a portion for it instead.

 

Advised by whom?  What does "a crazy fee" mean?  A "portion" of what?

 

 

27 minutes ago, MNlandlord said:

The tenants are arguing that the walls were not white or tan to begin with

 

And this is true?  Or false?

 

 

28 minutes ago, MNlandlord said:

Are we, as MN landlords, legally allowed to put in the lease that the tenant can paint as long as it's painted a certain color when vacating?

 

Yes.

 

 

28 minutes ago, MNlandlord said:

And if the tenant does not comply, are we legally able to withhold part of the deposit?

 

Maybe, but you'll have to prove that the breach of the lease resulted in damages to you.  For starters, how long did the tenant occupy the premises?  Apparently, you've already repainted the walls.  Correct?  Would you have done so anyway -- regardless of the color?  Had the tenant not done anything to the walls, would you have repainted?  How much did the painting cost?  Did you already return the balance of the tenant's deposit?  Did you do so within the time provided by law, and did you provide an appropriate accounting of your deduction for the painting (and anything else that caused you to withhold any portion of the deposit)?

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5 hours ago, MNlandlord said:

Since this is such a headache, we feel going forward, we will not allow future tenants to paint due to the frustration of having try a paint over the choice of colors. 

 

As a former landlord with a lot more experience than you'll ever have, that's exactly how you should handle future tenants.

 

When you are first showing the house, with its new paint job, say this: "See the color scheme? If you rent my house you will live with that color scheme for the duration as I won't repaint and I won't allow you to repaint. Understand?"

 

 

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Let's see if I can answer some of these questions. 

 

We hired a property management company to handle future tenants.  We live in another state and being that we can't be there to do the work and document it all personally start to finish, it's been a headache this time around.  The company we are working with advised us to keep the whole security deposit from these previous tenants and recommended a list of charges but we weren't comfortable with them and tried to keep the fees more reasonable and per items that are clearly outlined in lease agreement.   Crazy fees to us were:  $400 to clean, we didn't charge at all to clean. Granted they did not leave it in the same clean condition, we felt we would clean it anyway to our standards. We didn't charge $400 for carpet cleaning or the $300 for items left behind but did cut that charge down because there are large items they left and we need to hire someone to break them down and take. 

 

Over half of their deposit was returned plus a 1% interest rate (including a pet deposit) with a written description on what was being "charged" and it was within 21 days. The check has since been cashed.  

 

It's just the painting argument that seems to be an issue. If the colors were not so dark and looked to be in good condition, we may feel we could leave it but they even left behind their daughters name on one of the walls, which for our next tenant, I am definitely not comfortable with. 

 

We would NOT paint the house if they did not paint. We would have left it as it was.  This is why we put in the lease that we will allow them to paint as long as it was white or tan when the lease was terminated.  We did not want to be left with something different then what was previously there and felt that putting this in the lease would help keep us covered from the unnecessary expense of hiring someone to paint. We estimated the cost to be around $350 for 1 bedroom and 1 living room with vaulted ceiling.  

 

 

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