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Exiting tenant charged for painting

November 01, 2009|Martin Eichner | Project Sentinel

Question: I gave my landlord notice that I was vacating the apartment that my wife and I had been renting for the last year. We participated in a walk-through with the landlord after which he told us that the entire apartment would be repainted for the new tenants at our expense. There was no damage to the paint during the time we lived there, and we have photos to prove that. Can we be charged for a new paint job just because new tenants will be coming in?

Answer: As tenants, you and your wife are responsible only for repairing any actual damage to the paint you cause, such as holes left in the walls from hanging art, and for restoring the general condition of the unit to the same level of cleanliness that existed when you moved in. You are not responsible for normal wear and tear to the paint.

Unless the paint has been damaged beyond the expected deterioration from one year of normal use, you have no responsibility for re-painting. It is understandable that a landlord would like new paint in a unit on the market to make it attractive to prospective tenants, but that is a normal business cost, it is not a tenant responsibility.

-- Martin Eichner, Project Sentinel Eichner is director of Housing Counseling Programs for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based mediation service. To submit a question, go to www.housing.org .

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