Is There a Law That Says a Landlord Has to Paint in Between Tenants?

Landlord-tenant rights and obligations depend on your state's laws.
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Dirty, dingy walls may turn away a prospective tenant seeking a rental home. When the previous tenant moves out of a rental property, the incoming tenant may request repainting of the walls to improve the property's appearance and cleanliness. Whether the landlord must repaint in between tenants depends on the landlord-tenant laws, housing laws or consumer laws of each state.

Painting Not Required

As each state has its own landlord-tenant laws and codes for consumer protection, landlords and tenants should research the laws of their own states. Some states do not require repainting of rental properties in between tenants. In these states, incoming tenants may request repainting before they move in, but landlords may decide whether to do so. For example, Ohio law does not include any provisions for repainting of rental units before new tenants move in. Even when not required by state law, however, landlords may choose to repaint as an incentive for prospective tenants.

Painting Required

Some states require repainting of rental residences at regular intervals. A state may regulate the frequency of repainting based on the type of rental building. In New York, for example, landlords with buildings containing more than three apartments, also known as multiple dwellings, must repaint every three years if maintaining occupied units. However, a state law that requires repainting at regular intervals may not necessarily require repainting in between tenancies as long as the landlord already repaints the premises at the specified intervals.

Security Deposits and Repainting

When state law requires repainting of a rental property between tenants, the landlord and former tenant should both understand who must pay for painting services. A tenant worry that the landlord will use the tenant's security deposit toward repainting costs. In California, for example, whether the landlord may use the security deposit to pay for repainting of walls depends on the duration of the tenancy. A California tenancy lasting fewer than six months allows the landlord to deduct the full cost of repainting from the security deposit, while a tenancy of greater than two years means that the landlord cannot use any of the security deposit for repainting. Tenants and landlords should research the laws governing security deposits in their own states.

Where to Find State-Specific Information

A landlord or tenant should obtain state-specific legal information from a government agency or through consultation with a local attorney. The legal-aid agency or legal-services organization serving a particular state may publish information to explain landlord-tenant laws. A nonprofit legal-aid organization may also represent tenants who need help with enforcement of their rights under state law. Each state may also provide information through a government agency such as a department of consumer affairs or a division of consumer protection at its attorney general's office. When contacting a legal-aid organization or consumer-protection agency, the tenant or landlord should explain that he would like to find out whether his state requires painting of a rental property between tenants.

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