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Tenants Decorating Rental Properties: The Pros and Cons

Woman smiling and looking to the side while holding a paintbrush and standing in front of a painted wall

A former rental house in Merseyside has been granted a Grade II listing after an amateur artist radically altered the decor. Ron Gittens, who died in 2019, rented the house for 33 years, during which time he painted murals in the style of ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome, created an altar, and turned a fireplace into a minotaur’s head. All of this was achieved without any complaint from, or possibly the knowledge of, his landlord.


Art fans campaigned for the work to be preserved after Gittens’ death and the listing was granted in April 2024.


The story poses a question for landlords, though. Namely, where do you stand on tenants decorating rental properties? It divides property owners, and there are certainly pros and cons. This article explores this question and provides advice for landlords allowing tenant decoration.

The Benefits of Allowing Tenants Decorating Rental Properties

Enhancing Tenant Retention

By allowing tenants to make a rental feel like home, you can help create a positive landlord-tenant relationship. This encourages tenants to stay longer and reduces turnover rates.

Attracting Responsible Tenants

Tenants who wish to invest time and resources into decorating are often those who will take good care of the property as if it were their own. Tenants decorating rental properties can give them a sense of responsibility that can extend to maintaining the property well.

Potential Property Value Increase

Tasteful decorations can improve the overall appeal of the property. Should landlords decide to sell or rent to a new tenant, these enhancements could potentially increase the property's market value.

The Drawbacks

Risk of Property Damage

While most decorations are benign, some can cause damage, especially if they involve structural changes or the use of materials that can harm surfaces.


Costs of Reversion

Undoing the results of previous tenants decorating rental properties and restoring them to a neutral state can be costly, especially if significant alterations were made.


Potential for Disputes

Without clear guidelines, disagreements over what constitutes 'acceptable' decoration can arise, potentially leading to disputes that sour the landlord-tenant relationship.


Navigating Tenant Decorations: A Landlord’s Strategy

Tenants decorating rental properties is controversial, but if you want to harness the benefits and mitigate the risks, follow this advice.

Establish Clear Guidelines

Clearly outline what types of decorations are allowed. This could include specifying acceptable paint colours, prohibiting structural changes, or allowing certain types of wall hangings that don't leave marks.

Create an Approval Process

Implementing a system where tenants must get approval before making any changes can help you maintain control over the extent of decorations and prevent unwanted alterations.

Encourage Temporary Decorations

Promoting the use of non-permanent decor can satisfy tenants’ desire to personalise their space while minimising the risk of damage.

Document the Property's Condition

Before and after photos and detailed condition reports can provide a clear benchmark for the property's state, which is invaluable if disputes arise or if there’s a need to assess damage.

Tenancy Agreement Specifications

The tenancy agreement should explicitly state the decorating policy, including the need for landlord approval, the types of allowed decorations and the tenant's responsibility for the costs associated with restoring the property.

Better Property Management

Tenants decorating rental properties comes with benefits and drawbacks, but one of the main reasons to allow it is to maintain a positive relationship. Other ways to ensure this include making sure you have an effective property management policy. If your tenants see your commitment to maintenance and other aspects of management, they will see that you are dedicated to providing a secure and comfortable home for them. Outsourcing to Executive Property Management Solutions helps provide a professional service without the need for you to be continually on call. Speak to us today about your requirements. Call 0208 5757630.


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