It’s estimated that a quarter of households will rent privately in the UK by as soon as 2021.
Gone are the days when renting was merely considered a short-term solution or a living situation reserved for uni students – with an increasing number of families and professionals now renting and doing so for the longer term, rental properties are looked upon as homes rather than simply rented space. With this in mind, tenants are keen to make their mark on the decor and create a living space that’s more personal, but when it comes to house refurbishment, where does the responsibility lie?
How to handle requests to personalise a property
Landlords have long favoured a neutral colour scheme of magnolia walls and hard-wearing flooring, as it seemingly gives the property a broad appeal whilst keeping the unit looking fresh and clean.
However, if a tenant hopes to stay in a property for a number of years, they may request permission to personalise it – which isn’t necessarily a negative thing. After all, it demonstrates they are keen to treat the property as they would their own, which generally means you can expect it to be kept to a higher standard than someone just passing through a run-of-the-mill rental. When it comes to whether or not it falls within tenants rights, this ultimately comes down to what has been written to Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement. According to research from Savills, around 75 per cent of landlords will agree to let tenants make aesthetic alterations to a property. In many cases, a landlord will make an approval with a caveat; for example if a tenant requests to repaint, the landlord may approve this request on the condition that the colour be returned to the previous state at the end of the tenancy. Similarly, if shelving or painting is to be hung, landlords might ask that all hooks are removed and holes filled in when the lease ends. Adding in conditions such as these can put a landlords mind at ease that there is no irreversible damage or change happening, and that they will not incur any extra work or expense redecorating themselves before a changeover in occupancy. It also enables tenants to put a personal mark on a property, and as booming prices coupled with a lack of shortage has meant many first-time buyers have no choice but to rent for long periods, it can help tenants feel a little more settled and “at home” even though they do not own the property.
Whether you wish to have your tenant redecorate or not is ultimately a matter of opinion, and may well depend on the length of the tenancy as well as how extensive the decorations are – for example, whether they want to hang a painting or two, or envision painting the living room electric blue! The easiest and clearest way to define tenant versus landlord responsibilities is to ensure everything is written down in a signed agreement, rather than relying on verbal contracts.