Newbie Landlord Question - tenant request

I'm about to rent out a house and want help my tenants without leaving myself exposed to risks.

My tenants were due to move in this weekend but are now insisting that all the bedrooms need redecorating before they sign the lease (they viewed and started the rental process a month ago).
My sense is that the family have always lived in brand new houses and that's really what suits them but they've fallen in love with this second-hand property which is also a few hundred years old and listed. Many of the other requests from their very long list indicate they haven't had to compromise with second-hand/old houses before but they don't seem to be dealbreakers unlike this decorating issue.

The letting agent thinks repainting is unreasonable, the decorating is fine and neutral (although admittedly not recent) and that the tenants would actually be making a rod for their own back since they will then have to return all the bedrooms in the same box-fresh condition. However the tenants are not happy with a couple of old movement cracks, one 6 inch area of blown plaster and some picture hook holes and want holes filled in and all rooms repainted as new.

Now I do want to help, understand how they feel and want to make them feel at home and have already compromised a little on rent and a lot on pets but I also believe the tenants have the balance of power tipped in their favour and although they are a nice family they are trying it on a bit.
This has all been raised at the last minute, they do want to be long-term tenants so are attractive to landlords and if I lose them then I've lost at least a months rent even if I find someone else quickly - and I suspect it's not going to be an easy house to find tenants for.

OK, so the letting agent is telling me and has told the tenants that for me to redecorate in this situation is unheard of and ridiculous and if the tenant wants to redecorate they should do it themselves with my permission.

The tenants have countered by stating they will delay the start of the tenancy by 10 days and they require access up to that date to redecorate at their own costs themselves. They have a big family and want it all done before they move in but this is a lot of risk for me (isn't it?)

I've been having a think and come up with four possible solutions:

1) If I refuse altogether, double bluff them, then I may lose my tenants. It may take me a while to replace them and house insurance cover is difficult/impossible with an empty house.

2) If I accept then I could be leaving myself exposed to all kinds of risks. The tenants could damage the house and do a runner, squat etc etc. My insurance won't cover my giving the keys to some stranger.

3) I have this pointless decorating done by professionals (I can't do it myself) as soon as possible and delay the tenancy further until then. I'm really loathe do to this as six bedrooms done by professionals won't be cheap, probably cause further delay and the tenants are already punishing me financially by delaying the tenancy start.

4) I could suggest the tenants start and sign the tenancy this week as previously agreed so I'm covered and can hand them the keys but discount the first months rent pro-rata for ten days so they can come in and paint it themselves whilst living elsewhere.

I'm tempted towards (4). Can anyone see any drawbacks with this or recommend another?
I'm new to all this and I'm just guessing. :confused:
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Replies

  • *jobags**jobags* Forumite
    167 Posts
    Dont waste your time with them - if this is how they're starting then God help you in 3 months time

    Cut your losses and find other tenants - it's better for you in the medium term

    Can't you "move in yourself until it's let - for insurance purposes ;)

    It's still a landlords market - they're extracting the urine

    Jo
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  • ejh18ejh18 Forumite
    38 Posts
    I would run a mile from these prospective nightmare tenants! You should definately refuse to redecorate as it doesn't sound like it needs doing. If they wanted this doing they should have stated this before they signed the contract. If they have signed already then they are legally bound to it, i.e. they cannot refuse to move in without losing their deposit, they cannot withold rent and they cannot force you to pay for decorating costs if they do it themselves. We threatened to withold rent from our landlord as the central heating boiler had been broken for six weeks in the middle of winter, but that was just as a push to get it fixed (which worked), and legally we were on shaky ground. As there does not seem to be anything really wrong, and certainly nothing that you have a legal duty to repair, don't give an inch! If they decide not to move in then you will have their deposit to cover costs until you find other tenants, and surely your landlords insurance allows for periods when the house is unoccupied? Sounds like they could be a royal pain in the !!!! if they do move in.......
  • chapperschappers Forumite
    3K Posts
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    Tell them that you will paint it for them but it must be returned in a newly painted state (professionally done) at the end of the tenancy.Otherwise tell them to take a hike
  • lil_melil_me Forumite
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    The house we moved into (rented) was far from how we wanted it but we started the tenancy then redecorated at cost to us to have it how we wanted it (minus cracks, holes and VERY bad DIY decorating muck ups) I think the tenants are being unreasonable asking you to provide them with a rent free period if it's just that it is not to their taste etc. I would tread carefully as someone has already mentioned if they're being a pain now they might continue to be a pain, I try not to have to contact my landlady at all.

    A possible suggestion would be to explain that you want the house back when they are finished their tenancy decorated to a proffesional standard if you are going to pay to have it done before they move in, making them aware of the costs might put them off asking for it to be done. Six bedrooms will be rather costly.
    One day I might be more organised...........:confused:
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  • GeneraliGenerali
    36.4K Posts
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    You could give them permission to decorate and charge them a nominal rent in the mean time. You see 'not decorated for a while' they see chips in the paintwork and grubby walls.

    That they want to move into somewhere that looks nice sounds like a plus point to me.
  • robwendrobwend Forumite
    2.9K Posts
    sounds like a good landlord to me. id go with yes they can paint it, but when your paying rent my love. ive got the same problem , as im moving into rented and want to decorate, but il just have to start my tenancy a week earlier. im not stupid enough to think hes gonna say yeah il reduce rent for a week while you pansey about lol
    You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on
  • DawnWDawnW Forumite
    6.8K Posts
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    I also have an older house in pretty average decorative order (though with a brand new central heating system and other improvements, and professional cleaning between tenants) that I rent out. In your position, I would have no hesitation in telling these prospective nightmare tenants to get lost. Honestly, if they are not even in the property yet and have tried it on this much, they will keep on doing so. This type will know how to use all the small print of the rules and regulations to their own ends and rip you off, be assured. They will probably have done it before. Your LL insurance should cover void periods, and plenty of people are looking to rent at the moment. I am not a 'horrid' or 'greedy' landlord, and my house is very pleasant and in a nice area (my home, though due to OH's odd employment circumstances we can't feasibly live in it at the moment). I too am relaxed about kids, pets, tenants wanting to make small alterations to make it feel like home etc. If they want to paint a room, I will pay for the paint in an agreed neutral sort of colour. I believe in both sides being fair in these arrangements though, and give and take. You have already made enough concessions.
  • owitemisermusaowitemisermusa Forumite
    951 Posts
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    DawnW wrote: »
    I also have an older house in pretty average decorative order (though with a brand new central heating system and other improvements, and professional cleaning between tenants) that I rent out. In your position, I would have no hesitation in telling these prospective nightmare tenants to get lost. Honestly, if they are not even in the property yet and have tried it on this much, they will keep on doing so. This type will know how to use all the small print of the rules and regulations to their own ends and rip you off, be assured. They will probably have done it before. Your LL insurance should cover void periods, and plenty of people are looking to rent at the moment. I am not a 'horrid' or 'greedy' landlord, and my house is very pleasant and in a nice area (my home, though due to OH's odd employment circumstances we can't feasibly live in it at the moment). I too am relaxed about kids, pets, tenants wanting to make small alterations to make it feel like home etc. If they want to paint a room, I will pay for the paint in an agreed neutral sort of colour. I believe in both sides being fair in these arrangements though, and give and take. You have already made enough concessions.


    Is that routine? I thought insurance only covers voids due to insurable events eg fire, flood during which you have to house tenants and do repairs?
    I'm not aware that you can get cover for tenancy voids. Isn't that a different thing altogether ie guaranteed rental via EAs?
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  • ejh18ejh18 Forumite
    38 Posts
    Is that routine? I thought insurance only covers voids due to insurable events eg fire, flood during which you have to house tenants and do repairs?
    I'm not aware that you can get cover for tenancy voids. Isn't that a different thing altogether ie guaranteed rental via EAs?

    Landlords insurance would not cover costs (e.g.mortgage) when the house is unoccupied, rather the property will be covered when unoccupied (e.g. in case of fire, burglary), which I think was the OPs original concern. If they don't have LLs insurance however, that is another matter. If not they will need to change their insurance to LLs insurance anyway or at least tell their insurer that they plan to let the house. The deposit taken from the prospective tenant should cover rental costs if the tenant pulls out at the last minute, as most deposits are for at least a month's rent. It works the same way with the LL though, they also cannot pull out without legal recourse.
  • macaque_2macaque_2 Forumite
    2.4K Posts
    Aiko

    This sounds unreasonable to me. However it is a tenants market in many areas at the moment so you will need to weigh up the cost of redecorating against the loss of income.
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