Reducing Rent In Exchange For Tenant’s Decorating – Terrible Idea?

Reducing Rent In Exchange For Decorating

I’ve been enduring the unpleasant task of taking viewings this week for a property that’s due to become available very shortly.

Admittedly, the property isn’t in the absolute best condition. Structurally, it’s sound, however, there are some visual horrors on the decor front. I wouldn’t say it’s cripplingly bad, but there are some mortifying features, like out-dated kitchen units, and the downstairs hallway that is screaming to be stroked with a fresh lick of paint.

As I was showing one couple around, they said they liked the property, but hesitant to commit because of the decor. They specifically mentioned the shit-stained kitchen units and the dull-as-sin walls.

They’re right. I couldn’t blame them. In hindsight, I should have addressed these issues before marketing the property *slaps forehead*

After they had a moment to themselves, presumably strategising their next move, they approached me with an offer. They said they’ll take the property on the basis that they can redecorate the property (if I pay for the supplies) and if I reduce the rent by £30 per month (in exchange for their labour).

Interesting! Very interesting!

Let’s weigh it up…

Advantages for Landlord

  • First and foremost, it saves me from having to do the work. I bloody hate painting.
  • I don’t need to get in labourers to do the work, which would realistically cost me more than reducing rent by £30 per month.
  • If I were to get decorators in now (or do it myself), it may prolong the vacancy period, which would ultimately cost me more. The couple were ready to move in immediately.

Disadvantages for Landlord

  • The standard of work could be an utter abomination and I’d have no recall.
  • If it goes wrong, it could potentially cause a sour relationship.
  • Lower monthly rental income.

Advantages for Tenants

  • They’ll save money
  • They’ll live in a freshly decorated property
  • They’ll be able provide input on the refurb, so they’ll live in a property they’ll get to enjoy

Disadvantages for Tenants

I actually couldn’t think of any. Did I miss the bigger picture here?

Perhaps, some ground rules would help?

If I were to agree to the offer there would definitely need to be ground rules, least of all to help counter the possibility of a piss-poor finish.

  • Work needs to be completed to a high standard. If not, the work will need to be redone at the tenant’s expense. “High standard” would need to be defined.
  • There will be a set budget on materials.
  • We all get a say on the colour palette.

My biggest reservation is that if this goes wrong it could be an epic disaster, not only on the poor craftsmanship front, but it wouldn’t exactly be the best start to our relationship. Can I really be assed for all that drama? Probably not. Is that my decision made? Let me sleep on it.

I’d be interested to know what you would do in this situation, or if you’ve had a similar arrangement? If so, how did it go?

9 Join the Conversation...

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Justin Burns 2nd February, 2009 @ 07:20

He may be a 'professional' drug dealer.

My biggest worry would be the quality of the work. People think that if you can piss you can paint but there's a bit more to it than that. I don't see a tenant spending hours preparing the surfaces before slapping the paint on and if it ain't done properly it will look shit again by the time they leave.

Tenants also have this thing about inviting their friends around for a 'painting party' which is basically painting while getting pissed.

On a serious note though - who will decide if the work is to a high standard? I'd say it's more trouble than it's worth.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 2nd February, 2009 @ 07:40

I know what you're saying, Justin. And I agree, the level of standard is a highly objective issue, and is ultimately in the eye of the beholder.

However, I was strictly clear that everything needs to be to a high standard. And I would be the moderator. I explained how things should be...

This kind of scheme should probably be offered to people you think you could trust. Moreover, only really works if the tenants plans on staying for the longterm...

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 2nd February, 2009 @ 07:40

Professional drug dealers pay the bills...

Guest Avatar
Badger 5th February, 2009 @ 08:54

I let um get on with it, they have to live in the dam place, if its shit then they only have themselves to blame. Lowering rent, no, if they want to change the deco and there is nothing wrong with it in the first place then no, its upto them.
If the place needs a refurb then yes i would foot the bill.

Guest Avatar
Slum Landlord 8th February, 2009 @ 23:56

Do not let them do it. I have fallen into this trap. I was halfway through painting my hallway when my tenants wanted to move in quickly and they offered to finish off the painting. Now they think that because I have trusted them to paint they have the green light to do whatever they want. They have since done a really hideous paint job with a colour that might have been fashionable in the early 70s in both the lounge and hallway. They have also put down a floor in the hallway, lounge, and two bedrooms which was never approved and once again, it is a hideous job. As a result the property is now devalued and it's going to cost me a fortune to put it right. Give them and inch and they take you for a fool.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 9th February, 2009 @ 07:43

Hey Slum,

Man, that's annoying. If any Landlord leaves the decorating to the tenants, there must be strict rules and an approval process should definitely be implemented.

I guess it's an extremely risky situation. However, I'm sure there are cases where it has ended well.

I guess it just depends on how competant the tenants are.

Kind regards

Guest Avatar
Nikki 31st May, 2010 @ 20:06

I recently managed to find a property which I am going to rent from a private landlord, but the property itself was left in a disgusting state by the previous tenants. To be honest, I really do not know how people actually live in these conditions, especially as they had two young children. Before I can move in, it is going to require a lot of work to make it respectable enough to live in, as in its current condition, you wouldn't keep animals in there!

My question is this.... Do landlords usually pay for a company to come and clean the properties which are left in this condition or do they do it themselves?

The reason I am asking is, I have a very strong background in industrial and domestic cleaning and I am seriously considering looking into the possibility of setting up a business which specializes in restoring houses left in this condition. My past employment has seen me work in this type of area before and I used to enjoy seeing the end result, even though it was hard work to do.

I am just seeking opinions as to how often landlords find property left in poor conditions and what their usual course of action is regarding doing the work themselves or whether they pay for some one to do the work for them.

If I find that the potential is there for a business, then I am going to set up soon and start offering a full service restoring property from top to bottom, including tidying gardens if needed.

Any advice would be great.



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Aunty P 2nd March, 2011 @ 22:04

Hi Nikki, I'm a letting agent and we're really lucky to have a husband and wife team who clean most of our properties if necessary when tenants vacate. The reason I say lucky is because anyone can set up a cleaning business but not many see it as anything more than a dirty job and don't stick at it for long. Our cleaners take real pride in their work and are also do odd jobs like weeding, removing rubbish left behind etc. I dread when they're away on holidays and we have to use other companies.

We were one their first customers so I've watched them establish themselves. It took a while but they are heavily relied on now by enough regulars that they are busy all the time.

From your message you sound as if you would be similar and probably do a really good job. Good luck if you go ahead!

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Aunty P 2nd March, 2011 @ 22:22

Hi Landlord! We've successfully done similar deals with lower rents on scruffy properties. A couple of examples.

3 months rent free and in return the tenant, who is a kitchen fitter, supplied and fitted kitchen units. It was his idea, mid tenancy and he submitted a plan, samples etc and it was all written into an agreement.

1 month rent free in return for the tenant to remove ceiling tiles and make good. Agreed pre-tenancy and in the tenancy agreement. This property had been vacant for months because the overseas landlady wouldn't spend a penny on it to bring it up to marketable condition. I think she was very lucky. He's a great tenant and has improved the whole house by decorating.

We usually know enough about the tenants to judge if they capable of doing a decent job and if the property has been DIY'd before by the owner then the standard is never as good as a professional decorators anyway.

It's a good idea to write it into the agreement that tenants are responsible if they cause any damage during decorating, paint on carpets sort of thing and make sure colours etc are agreed. If they insist on anything non standard then it's written up that they agree to return it back to magnolia or whatever at the end of the tenancy.

We've had great success doing this type of deal. It's always been win, win and we've never had problems because we're careful to assess each case individually and check the work when completed.

















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