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Letting Tenants Paint: Do's and Dont's

· Palo Alto California,Scott Safadi,housingforgoogle,San Jose

What color are your walls? If you manage a property, chances are good, you value versatility and the ability to adapt. That's why white and beige walls have remained the most popular colors for apartment complexes everywhere. They're inoffensive and go with just about every kind of decor. Unfortunately, though, they're boring. There's no denying that a splash of paint can do wonders for a drab room. That's why so many tenants find themselves asking if they can paint their rentals. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends allowing them to do so, but with caveats:

DO ask that tenants get permission to paint first. A liberal painting policy is fine, but you should be made aware of any plans to change the colors of the walls. This will give you a chance to talk to the tenant about the color they picked, whether or not they plan to do it themselves, and allow you to remind them not to paint wood.

DON'T hesitate to veto a color. Not everyone has great taste, and some colors can be downright impossible to cover up later. If someone asks for a bright orange, for example, suggest a similar tone that will be a little easier to sell to the next tenant. Keep an open mind - you never know how unexpected color palettes could come together, like this orange and black Atari-themed apartment complex in Sunnyvale.

DO allow tenants to nest. There's an innate instinct in all of us to make our spaces more our own. While you might want to offer a select few color choices or limit the kinds of decor you allow on property, keep in mind that a happy tenant is one who will be more likely to stick around long-term. Of course, that doesn't mean you should allow just anything on property! But keep your expectations realistic.

DON'T pay for paint out of pocket. Should a tenant want to change their wall color, they should be paying for the changes. You may want to invest in professional painters to do the job, but the paint itself should come from the tenant requesting the change, not from your budget.

Regardless of how you feel about tenant decor, keeping an open mind to their requests is a great way to show you respect your residents.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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