When a lick of paint leads to a deposit dispute

October 7, 2013

UK landlords are failing to adequately protect themselves from disputes over redecoration because they are not accurately recording the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy.

Phrases such as ‘neutral colour’ are open to interpretation and often lead to disputes with tenants, says The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).

As a general rule, the responsibility for redecorating the property lies with the landlord, with industry guidance suggesting a new lick of paint every three years.

Pat Barber, chair of the AIIC, says: “Lots of disputes are presented where parties agreed to the tenant redecorating, but the precise details were not clearly defined.

“Landlords can be shocked to find the walls have been painted jet black or bright red, rather than the desired ‘neutral’ magnolia or white.

“We have been involved with numerous disputes over décor. Recent cases feature a bedroom which the tenant had been given permission to redecorate. However, he created beautiful ‘Lion King’ murals on all walls. At the end of the 12-month tenancy, the landlord needed to re-let the property, but this room was now firmly designated as a small child’s room due to the décor”.

The AIIC offers the following advice to help agents and landlords prevent disputes over décor:

•    Ensure there is a detailed account of the décor with description and photographs at check-in.

•    Make sure the tenancy agreement stipulates clearly that any changes to the property must only be made with the landlord’s permission.

•    If tenants request to redecorate any areas it should be made clear, in writing, with any authorised colour schemes.

•    Any permission given to tenants to redecorate should also include a clause stating the landlord’s right to return the room to its original colour if unauthorised paint colours are used by the tenants.