Tenants painting rentals!

The wailing and hand wringing has begun. Stand by for a stream of media stories of grumpy “millionaire” landlords whining and winging about the new “rights” tenants will have as the RTA changes shape.

Common among these mini rants are objections to tenants screwing shelves to walls, painting walls and ceilings, perhaps adding a west wing with turret and battlements. Yet in Europe, tenants rent for years, generations, lifetimes. Do these changes wrest control of a landlord’s property from their trembling hands?

Ask Yourself…

Is it really such a disaster that a tenant may want to paint a wall? As a landlord, wouldn’t you discuss this with your tenant first? After all, if they do a crap job, you’d apply to Tribunal at the end of the tenancy for compensation.

In 20 years of managing properties professionally, I’ve been asked twice by tenants if they could paint the inside of the property they are renting. On both occasions, the owner was consulted, the tenant was asked to assure a good standard of work, and the owner paid for the paint. Both tenants did a great job, and smartened up the property. All round, a pretty sweet deal.

On another occasion, a tenant painted a virulently purple wall white (without asking) while they lived there for over three years, and then repainted it purple when they moved out. This actually improved the condition of the property.

A Ministry of Housing and Urban Development spokesman has said whether a specific change like painting walls was within the scope of the revamped law would be situation dependent.

“A landlord and tenant should consider the elements of the definition and how they apply to the property and proposed change. Will it be easy to reverse? Is there a low risk of damage?”

“It is possible that painting walls may be considered out of the tenant’s scope as it may not be easy to return the walls to a reasonably similar condition at the end of the tenancy. If there is a dispute between a landlord and tenant, the Tenancy Tribunal can hear the dispute and will decide each case on the individual facts of the situation. It is also worth noting that tenants are not permitted to undertake minor changes without landlord consent,” the ministry man said.

Let’s face it – most tenants won’t even think of painting the inside of a rental. Yes, some will want to secure their shelf units for earthquake reasons. Some tenants might even stretch a landlord’s patience and actually hang a picture. How dare they!

As the man from MBIE stated, application of these new rules will be situation dependent. There seems to be a worry now that tenants will get too settled and won’t want to move for years and years. As a property investor myself, I always thought that was the aim, tbh.

Meanwhile the media reports the whining millionaires, deftly side-stepping the uncomfortable truth that tenant selection will now be, by necessity, infinitely more rigorous. Anyone with a black mark on their renting history will quickly discover that securing a rental property has got a lot more difficult.

I think Kris Faafoi and the Labour Government deserve a pat on the back for making renting better. Good on you, guys. Great job. Not.