Who's responsible for decorating?

Hi all,
I have been a landlord for a couple of years now and have noticed that some areas of paint work need attention. However the AST I used didnt really cover who’s responsibility it is. I let my tenant decorate when she first moved in as she wanted to change colours which I didn’t mind. Just wondering what other landlords do? I asked this on a different forum and got some very strong but varying opinions on how this should be managed!
For instance, could it be written in the contract that I, the landlord will update the woodwork every 3 to 4 years for example? Or do you totally leave it up to the tenant whilst they’re living there?
Thanks in advance

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Do it when it needs doing, if it’s a good tenant do it sooner.

I don’t want my tenants decorating. I may allow some things after a discussion. It’s my responsibility.

It totally your choice though. I wouldn’t bother having it in contract that you will do it every 4 years or whatever. Just as and when.

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I prefer to leave it to tenant as it’s generally easier all round but it has to depend on tenant as some wont want to and some you wouldnt want them to.

It is ultimately landlords responsibility, a tenant cant really force you to decorate but will make the property less attractive to tenants if you dont. Where long term tenants are happy to decorate i leave rents well below market rates so they do well out of it, but will depend on your preferences if you want to do that.


I would never allow tenants to re-decorate my property unless they are themselves or they use professionals. If you allow it you have very little redress if they do it badly or give up half way through. Its a landlords job in my view.

Putting anything about drcorating frequency in the tenancy agreement is a hostage to fortune that will come back to bite you.

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Thanks guys… A totally gray area then! But I agree that I’d prefer to take the reins on this one and update what needs doing myself.
Best wishes


Any tenants who want to decorate shows a good intention (unless they are trying to cover mould which they caused - it is not unknown that some will paint over a sealant before they leave as they let mould to grow on sealants!!!). But there are issues with tenants decorating. If they are not using anyone(i.e. tradesman) then you need to know their capabilities. They might buy the cheapest paint possible and smear paint all over the place (including radiators)! During covid I let tenants to paint etc but I can see that it caused more harm then benefit! Light units, radiators , wood trims etc all has paints on them. And I see left over paints which I never buy! I always decorate myself just because I can, and also save money. I do between tenancies. . Within tenancy me being there for long durations can be awkward - not for me but usually for them. If such request arises during tenancy I probably discuss who is going to do etc and probably split/negotiate the cost if it seems existing condition is fine but they want for their own taste.

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Hi C116
That is exactly my dilemma… I’m very capable of decorating and want to keep the place updated. However it’s not something that my tenant has asked about. It’s mainly the wood work and as you mentioned it would be very inconvenient for me to be glossing whilst they were in situ. I feel a discussion with my tenant is the best way to go. Thanks for your thoughts


How long has your tenant been in there? Is it really necessary to decorate every 4 years? Even the courts work on, in my opinion, an excessive renewal period for decor and carpets of 5-7 years for wear & tear allowances, so I estimate 17% / annum of occupation is my responsibility, anything over and above that which needs decorating is down to the tenant’s account, assuming it was presented to them in good condition on check in.

My last long-term home in UK only required one freshen up decoration in 14 years, around about the 10-year point.

If it needs doing, and you are willing and able to do it yourself, schedule a period when your tenant is away on holiday, so you don’t get under their feet.

Tenants responsibility to hand the property back as was given to them, so interior decor is their concern IMHO. I havent decorated my home since it was built 20 years ago because its been looked after and doesnt need it.

This is an interesting one. We all have different views on standards of decorating. I have one set of tenants who have maintained their home beautifully and have good taste so I am more that happy to let them decorate and always offer to pay for it. I keep their rent well below the market rent. The other guy who is also an erratic payer lives like a pig. I would be most unwilling to pay for any decoration needed even though I know it is a LL responsibility. In my own homes I have always decorated every 4-8 years depending on how the room is used. White gloss paint becomes very yellowed with age so doesn’t last more than 8 years without sanding and repainting. I think Joanna’s decision to discuss with her tenants would definitely be the way to go.

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Hi Jennifer
Thanks for your reply. To add to the mix, the ‘mild’ damp problem that we had has now escalated to rising damp of which we are in the process of having work done to the fabric of the building. Unbeknown to me my tenant had just paid to have the worse affected room treated and decorated which after this bout of cold weather has been ruined by wet and mould. She hasn’t mentioned this to me as she is very amiable but I feel I ought to be doing something. Eg helping her clean. To use a fungicidal wash at this stage seems fruitless as it’s just treating the symptoms and hopefully the work to the building will treat the cause. Would others offer to help clean? Baring in mind this only happened a couple of days ago

at least offer to help clean and decorate

Might sound daft asking but I also didn’t want to encrouch further on her time at Xmas.

@Leslie1 I don’t think this is true though, is it? Fixing wear and tear isn’t tenants’ responsibility. The tenant would only have to pay for redecorating if they caused unreasonable damage that isn’t covered by wear and tear rules. You sometimes have to redecorate just because it doesn’t last forever.


If tenant has a dog (not in my properties!) and carpets wear out or look worn then who is responsible? Fair wear and tear or prematurely worn out by tenant?

Rising damp is not caused by the tenant, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to fix it.

I think it depends if the dog is permitted or not.