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Does a landlord legally have to repaint a rental property after every tenant moves out?

Lakewood, WA |

My landlord had the entire interior of the house painted before we moved in and then when we moved out, the new tenants moved in before we could handle the paint issue, and we had a few holes covered with putty, etc. -- normal things you would find after a house is lived in.

We bought paint and asked the new tenants to do it since we would have be going around them to get it done, since she let them move in before our 30 days were up and the new tenants agreed to do it for free. The landlord said she wouldn't make any claims on our deposit for it.

Then when we got our deposit letter, she charged us $600 dollars, saying every wall needed to be repainted after the new tenants leave to ensure that it's satisfactory to her. And we didn't buy enough paint.

Can she actually do this?!

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

A tenant has to return the property in the same condition it was in at the beginning of the tenancy, less normal wear and tear. Repainting is not necessary unless you caused excessive wear or damage that required repainting. Holes in the walls are a good example of damage beyond normal wear, but can usually be fixed without repaint the whole property.

If you gave back the keys, you are not entitled to return and do more repairs. You must do any repairs or cleaning before giving up possession.

If your landlord always repaints between tenants, than you are not responsible for the cost to repaint unless the work was more expensive than usual because of the damage you caused.

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Asker

Posted

That's why we got the paint to cover up the holes, after we had already filed the holes with putty but she didn't tell us that she was allowing the new tenants to move in early, and told us we had to repaint with them there. I am not sure if she always repaints before a new tenant moves in, but literally as we discussing painting over our holes with the right paint color in the kitchen, she had the new tenants already moving their stuff into the living room, without resolving the painting with us first. And then said we had to give her the keys so she could give them to the new tenant. So if we had it said in our deposit checklist that we signed that we bought paint and the new tenant would paint for free, she can't come back and charge us saying we have to pay for the entire interior to be repainted after the new tenants leave?

Joseph T G Harper

Joseph T G Harper

Posted

You might also want to review your lease agreement and rules and regulations. Often landlords include provisions regarding damages or repairs, including painting. Sometimes there are clauses providing no charge for painting if tenant resided on the premises for a certain number of months. Your lease may have something similar in it that resolves this issue. I think otherwise, your landlord may have a factual issue to deal with involving who caused what damage the walls, you or the new tenants. Did you pay for the entire month or was your last month pro-rated? If you paid for the entire month, it was inappropriate for your landlord to let someone in early without refunding a portion of the rent to you. That additional time could have been used to take care of the paint. Also, did you have anything in writing from your landlord about not being charged for the paint?

Asker

Posted

We did pay for the last month but as we were talking about when we would come back to paint ( within our two days left ) she had already written our pro-rated amount check for the last two days as the new tenants were moving in. And on the signed deposit check list, she wrote that we ( the old tenants) bought paint and the new tenants would paint. And I am almost 99% positive she also wrote free of charge since the new tenants didn't want to charge us. To my knowledge she did not take any photos before they moved in, because we were there the whole time and then when she got there, so did the new tenants and as we were discussing it they were moving their stuff in. So basically my best bet would be to say that we provided the paint and covered the holes and that she cannot provide pictures so she has to refund us the remaining amount?

Joseph T G Harper

Joseph T G Harper

Posted

I would double check the deposit checklist and if it says what you say, I think you should be able to rely on that.

Asker

Posted

My downfall is that we have a copy of it from when we moved in but we didn't get one on the way out. But the new tenant I feel strongly would stand on our behalf.

Posted

Unless there was an excessive amount of damage, landlords would typically touch up the paint to freshen it up for the new tenants.

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Asker

Posted

There was a few places that needed to be touched up and then a few other places with putty that had covered holes. And one place we tried to match the paint and couldn't, so after we did match it, it was just a matter of painting over it with the paint we supplied her.

Cheryl Rivera Smith

Cheryl Rivera Smith

Posted

You could sue for reimbursement in small claims court. You will need evidence and witnesses.

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