Can I Be Evicted For Painting My Apartment? [And Tips on How to Avoid It]

You’ve just gotten a new apartment, and you’re planning on painting the interior to give it that brand new look you want. But, can you get in trouble if your landlord decides to evict you?

The short answer is that you may be evicted for painting your apartment if you have violated your lease by doing so. But if your lease is silent or unclear on the matter, you should consult with your landlord before painting your unit to ensure there won’t be a dispute down the road.

Some landlords may be willing to let you paint if you follow a few simple guidelines:

  1. Get permission in writing before you start painting.
  2. Use neutral colors that will appeal to a wide range of people.
  3. Please ensure you touch up any chips or cracks in the walls before you start painting, so the new paint job looks its best.

In this article, we will discuss when you can be be evicted for painting your apartment and what steps you can take to avoid getting in trouble with your landlord.

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

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Are You Allowed to Paint Walls in a Rental?

As a general matter, landlords typically don’t want tenants to paint walls in a rental unit because they want to maintain control over the property’s appearance. So many leases will contain provisions that prohibit a tenant from painting the unit without permission.

They also don’t want to deal with the cost and hassle of repainting if the tenant makes a poor color choice or does not repaint the unit back to its original color.

Of course, a security deposit can come in handy to cover such costs, but it many cases, landlords simply do not want to deal with the extra work and effort needed to bring the unit back into original form.

Why It’s Not a Good Idea to Paint Your Apartment

As I mentioned at the top of the article, you might get evicted if you paint your apartment in violation of your lease agreement. You may think that you are actually improving the look of the apartment, so the landlord should be grateful, but many landlords like to maintain the color scheme of their units because they have existing paint in stock to touch up paint chips, etc.

If you paint your unit to a different color, it can set a wrench in the works for the landlord. Not only could you incur the wrath of your landlord if you paint your unit without permission, there are other drawbacks and risks as well. For example, you would have to deal with the following:

1) You could damage the walls, which would be costly to repair.

2) The paint fumes could be harmful to your health.

3) You could end up with a color you don’t like and can’t change easily.

4) If you have roommates, they might not appreciate coming home to a newly painted apartment without notice.

5) You could violate your lease agreement.

6) You might end up getting fined by your homeowner’s association, especially if you paint any exterior surfaces.

Would I Get Evicted for Painting My Apartment?

In most cases, landlords will not want to evict paying tenants simply because they painted their unit, especially if the lease doesn’t forbid it. A few key exceptions are essential to keep in mind:

  • If your lease explicitly states that painting (or any other modification) is not allowed, you could be evicted for going against the terms of your agreement.
  • Suppose you live in a historic building or district with strict rules about what can and can’t be changed. In that case, you may need to get permission from your landlord or the city before making any alterations-failing to do so could result in eviction.
  • If you live in subsidized housing, you should always check with your local housing authority before making any changes to ensure that they won’t affect your eligibility for future benefits.

What Will Happen if You Paint Your Apartment?

If the painting project requires any structural changes or alterations that affect other units in the building, then a tenant will need to get written consent before proceeding. If they don’t, and proceed with the painting project, they may be risking eviction because structural changes are prohibited under most leases.

There’s Nothing About Painting in my Lease

image of lease with a pen on top of it

If your lease is silent on the issue of painting, you should ask your landlord about whether painting is permitted. You can make a more persuasive case if you follow some of the tips we outlined above, such as choosing a neutral color, and promising to repaint back to the original color before you move out.

Hiring a professional will give your landlord peace of mind.

That means you’re free to do so unless your lease specifically says you can’t paint.

My Lease Says Painting is Not Permitted

If your lease explicitly says painting is not permitted, then you most likely cannot paint your apartment without the risk of eviction. In this particular case, your can still ask your landlord and follow the tips I just provided above on how to present a compelling case.

You may want to throw in that your will have the unit prepped and painted by a professional, so that it will be done right. This could give the landlord peace of mind and make them more likely to agree to your painting request.

What Happens If The Walls Are Not In Good Condition

If the walls and paint are damaged from wear and tear, you should identify that to your landlord as an issue when you move in, so that you are not charged for that damage when you move out.

The bright side, though, is that your landlord may be willing to entertain a paint request in that situation because they will get a fresh paint job.

However, if you damage the walls while painting, you may be responsible for repairs. So be careful when doing any sort of work on the apartment and make sure you don’t everything properly.

Change the Color Back Before You Leave

This is a point I mentioned in passing earlier, but it’s worth emphasizing.

You might love that bright green you painted your living room, but when it comes time to move out, you could be in for a surprise when your landlord throws a fit.

Many landlords require tenants to repaint the walls back to their original color before moving out, so should be prepared to do that.