Can A Landlord Paint While Occupied? (Find Out Now!)

Tiffany Nichols
by Tiffany Nichols

You’re renting. So, that means your landlord is in charge of what happens to the house. But can a landlord paint while you occupy the space? The answer might surprise you.

Your landlord can paint your apartment even if you occupy it but only under certain conditions. For example, they can repaint your apartment if there’s lead-based paint or other safety issues. But they must provide a legit reason and try to complete the work around your schedule.

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Can a Landlord Paint an Apartment While I’m There?

Yes, a property manager can come inside to paint an apartment even though someone lives there. After all, they have to ensure the home is safe for tenants and guests. So, they might request access to your house for renovations. However, they must get your permission to enter the residence for non-emergency purposes.

Since repainting is not an emergency, your landlord has to coordinate schedules on your behalf. But they can enter your home to paint if the paint is causing health concerns. Otherwise, renovation projects like that can wait until after you move.

Is Painting Considered Normal Wear and Tear?

Your landlord can’t be too salty about the condition of your walls if you take care of them. Still, peeling paint, minor scuffs, and color fading from direct sunlight are ordinary. But most landlords consider those things normal wear and tear.

Usually, property managers touch up the paint in between tenants. However, the home may require more work if the last tenant put holes in the wall or damaged the paint beyond repair. So, read your rental contract carefully to determine what’s allowed and what’s not.

NOTE: Most rental properties receive a fresh coat of paint right before you take possession. It helps landlords track damages more efficiently.

How Long Should Paint Last in a Rental Property?

Professionally painted walls usually have a long lifespan. And the higher quality paint you use, the longer it will last. But that doesn’t mean you can live in an apartment for years without repainting the walls. Over time, the colors can begin to fade and crack.

Most property owners expect two to three years out of each paint cycle. Thus, they manage their apartments on rotation. And if someone already lives in the residence, a landlord may ask to come inside and apply a fresh coat.

NOTE: Landlords might request that you and your pets leave the premises while they paint. That way, you don’t inhale any dangerous fumes.

Can a Landlord Charge You for Repainting?

If a landlord decides on their own volition to repaint your home, you do not have to pay for it. Or at least, you shouldn’t. It is the property manager’s discretion to renovate a rental. And repainting is not considered necessary at the end of your lease.

Living in a home for many years without painting is noticeable. However, it’s not indicative of negligence. Unless you damaged the property or caused the need for new paint, your landlord has to pay for it out of pocket.

NOTE: Check your rental lease to understand the policy about painting and damages.

Can a Landlord Deduct Painting from Your Security Deposit?

You can live comfortably in your rental. Know that your landlord can’t barge in to repaint. However, be wary of property managers who try to charge for the work after you move. Only a few circumstances allow a landlord to deduct the painting cost from your damage deposit. Plus, each state follows different laws.

Reasonable wear and tear are normal. But you should still try to repaint the apartment before you leave. That’s because landlords will scrutinize the move-out condition of your home. And if they think there’s more than normal wear and tear, they could start asking for cash to pay for repairs.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint an Apartment?

Whether you get charged for the work or not, it helps to know some numbers. But the cost of painting your apartment depends on several things., including these:

  • Square Footage: If your apartment is large, you’ll need more paint to cover the walls. But if your apartment is small, your paint costs won’t be nearly as high.
  • Paint Quality:  High-quality paints last longer and spread better. That means fewer coats and faster drying. But luxe paint costs more than standard color.
  • Required Fixes: You can’t paint a wall if it’s damaged. So, fixing holes and buffing scuffs can increase the price you pay for paint.

Meanwhile, the average cost to cover an apartment is between $1.50 and $3.50 per square foot. So, let’s say you live in a 900 square-foot space. You can expect to pay around $1,350 on the low end and $3,150 on the high end. Of course, those prices are for professional services, not DIY.

If you do the work yourself, you can expect to pay a lot less. However, you still have to account for painting outlets, maintaining the trim, and protecting light fixtures. Besides the color, you must buy paint supplies as well. But don’t start painting your apartment until you get permission from your landlord. Otherwise, you could break the lease.

Is It Worth Painting a Rental?

Considering you live there, it’s worth painting your apartment. And unless it costs too much, you should try to do it every 2-3 years. That’s because fresh paint helps liven up the space. Plus, you could discover structural issues that you need to address along the way.

How Do I Ask My Landlord for Painting?

You can ask your landlord to paint the apartment at any time. They’ll want to know whether you plan to do it or hire a professional. Then, they might want to confirm the colors you choose to make sure they’re acceptable. Be prepared with several options just in case.

Then cover your bases by asking for permission in writing. That helps you stay protected if something goes wrong. Try to be precise about your wishes and make sure the landlord addresses each one. After that, you’re free to paint at will.

NOTE: Most landlords prefer neutral colors because they’re easier to cover up after moving.

Which Color Is Best to Paint an Apartment?

There are many colors in the rainbow. But not all of them deserve a place on your apartment walls. And since most property owners prefer light, neutral shades, you might have trouble choosing the best one. So, here’s a list of the most popular options:

  • Grey
  • White
  • Beige
  • Light Yellow
  • Sky Blue

Luckily, those colors look good with most cabinetry and floors. And your home decorations might coordinate as well. Either way, remember that you’re renting. So, the time for customizing your home comes after you get a mortgage.

Related Questions

Can a Tenant Paint Without Permission?

Unless otherwise stated in your lease, you cannot paint a rental property without permission from the landlord. Painting without permission may break your lease or cost you money. But if you talk to your landlord first, you can avoid any trouble.

Do Landlords Ever Let You Paint?

Many landlords let their tenants paint their apartments. However, they might limit what you can paint and which colors you choose. For example, you usually can’t put color on original wood or trim. And you shouldn’t pick colors that are difficult to cover.Instead, choose neutral shades and light. Then avoid everything except the surfaces that you have permission to paint. Afterward, ask your landlord to look and approve of your work.

Can I Paint While Renting?

You can paint while renting a home, but only if you talk to the landlord first. If you can’t get ahold of them, review the terms of your lease. Many times, landlords will define renovation parameters for tenants. But if not, send a certified letter asking for permission to color your walls.

How Do I Match My Rental Paint?

Matching your rental paint isn’t always easy. First, go to your local hardware store to snatch some samples. Then, come home and compare those samples to your wall. You can buy small containers of test paint when you find a match. So, get several just in case.Start with a small brush, and then paint a spot on your wall. This will help you see how it looks after it dries. And if the colors don’t match up perfectly, take a picture. Then, go back to the hardware store where someone can help you create custom colors.

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Freshen Up Your Rental the Right Way

Don’t break your lease just to enjoy a fresh coat of paint. But never pay for renovations that you don’t need. So, check your lease for specifics. Then, talk to your landlord first. Ask for permission to paint and get it in writing to protect yourself.

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Tiffany Nichols
Tiffany Nichols

Tiffany Nichols specializes in aesthetics, design, marketing, and manufacturing. She's a copywriter and editor for several home renovation companies in the U.S. and works alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. Her hobbies include architecture, art, mental health, and fashion.

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