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Was renting. Owner wants to charge us to freshly repaint the walls-a few scuffs. Nothing in contract about this. Is this legal?

Sarasota, FL |

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.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

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.

DISCLAIMER This answer is not legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between any user/reader and The Law Offices of Jimmy Allen Davis, P.L.. We encourage and welcome you to contact us about your legal problems and visit our website at or email me at



Thank you, Attorney Davis, for your comments. She had our Security Deposit ($1850) and was threatening us in writing (via email). We had to meet her earlier today (I did threaten to take her to small claims court in writing) and since she had threatened to charge us to repaint the ENTIRE HOUSE, she had our backs up against a wall. We ended up negotiating with her that instead of keeping the $450 she wanted to repaint, we'd meet her half way at $225, which she agreed. She gave us our deposit via check back minus the $225 tonight and we will deposit it in the morning. It is so awful to be renters. So many people take advantage of you. She also insisted originally that for us to rent her house, we had to pay the first $200 of EVERY REPAIR! The house was 20 yrs old, so the A/C went, the garage door, the garbage disposal, electrical issues, and on and on! We don't even know if it was legal for her to make us pay that! But, in order to rent her house, she had us where she wanted us. Thanks for your time! We used to live in Deltona on Hanford Drive and family still lives there! Boy, has it grown!

Jimmy Allen Davis

Jimmy Allen Davis


It's good to hear you were able to arrive at a compromise. You should know for the future that certain terms of a lease agreement may be considered abhorrent to the laws of Florida. The relevant landlord tenant laws mention that any lease agreement that violates portions of the law may be invalid and unenforceable. The next time you may want to contact a landlord tenant attorney to be appraised of your right, of which you have many. Although truth be told, I am noticing that landlords are more likely to enforce their rights and abuse their tenants. Best of luck to you in the future.


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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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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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:, 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.