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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


  1. 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.


  2. 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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