When we first moved in, we asked if we could paint the children's bedrooms. The owner said it was fine & NEVER told us we had to return the walls to their original colors (we would never have spent the money if we knew we had to repaint and spend even more $$). Now that we've moved out, owner wants to charge us to repaint the childrens walls PLUS the walls in the REST OF THE HOUSE as she wants to try to sell the house and give it a fresh coat of paint. Isn't it the Landlords responsibility to paint? We have nothing in writing about painting the childrens rooms. There is also nothing in writing in the Lease about painting. What are my rights as a Tenant? Please help.
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
The terms of the lease (so long as they do not violate state law) control. Otherwise the details needed to figure out the problem are missing:
How is she imposing this charge on you?
Does she have a security deposit and did she tell you in writing that she was going to keep part of it to repaint the home? Did she send you a bill? Is she threatening to sue?
If she sent you a letter to lay claim to all or part of the security deposit, you must respond to her and object to her claim.
If she is billing you, reject the bill in writing. Ask her to prove what right she has to bill you for painting.
If she is threatening to sue, well... wait and see. A lot of threats are simply that, threats.
More detailed answers would require a consultation with a landlord / tenant attorney so that he or she can ask more questions specifically focused on your case.
If you wish to discuss this further, feel free to contact me through my profile.
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Car / Auto Accident Lawyer
It sounds like the Landlord wants to use all or a portion of your security deposit to paint what they are claiming are damages. If so than they must inform you in writing that they're using the security deposit. Only thing I would add is that normal wear and tear of carpet, painted walls, fixtures, etc is expected and the Landlord cannot charge you for those things.
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Environmental / Natural Resources Lawyer
Has the landlord made a demand on your security deposit, or is the landlord simply trying to get you to pay for re-painting? The landlord is required by law to send you a notice in writing that they intend to make a claim on your security deposit. You may have to go to court to resolve this dispute. If so, hire an attorney to represent you. If you prevail in court, your attorneys fees may be paid by the landlord.
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Elder Law Attorney
I agree with the other attorneys that have answered this. I would add the following, though. You are NOT required to assist the owner to update and upgrade her premises in order to maximize her ability to quickly and profitably sell the house. Moreover, absent a specific acknowledgment in advance that you agreed to repaint the walls upon exit, I would strongly argue that she has no right to demand that you re-paint IF your colors were substantially what was already there (just fresher and cleaner). However, if you painted beige walls pink and white walls blue, then I think it is a more complicated question. Most leases do require tenants to return the premises to the condition in which they were originally rented.
You can also check out the Washington State uniform residential landlord / tenant law. Go to: http://www.leg.wa.gov, and type in "residential landlord tenant" in the search space. Search ONLY the RCW's or you will be overwhelmed with all of the hits that come up.
I agree, too, that pre-emptively suing the landlord is not productive, but that if she sues you, or retains your deposit without the required notice, you should hire an attorney. Where less than $10,000 is at stake, you can win back your attorney fees if you prevail.
Without knowing all of the details, reviewing documents, and interviewing witnesses, no person should assume that this Answer constitutes specific legal advice for any specific legal situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by posting general legal responses on this site.