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Is My Landlord Required to Paint the Interior?

In most jurisdictions except for maybe a few local ordinances, landlords are not required to repaint the unit between tenants or even after several tenancies have passed. In fact, only New York City has the reputation for requiring a unit in a multi-unit dwelling of three or more units to be repainted once every three years (especially in a rent-stabilized apartment), but it’s seldom enforced to where the landlord faces any significant penalty other than ultimately having to repaint – weeks or months later…

Unfortunately for tenants, it’s much easier for the landlord to flip a situation around by claiming the unit became unsanitary during tenancy. If this should happen, the landlord may then enforce repainting requirements against the tenant by withholding the security deposit if the walls should become unsanitary during tenancy. So either the tenant has to repaint or allow the landlord to deduct from the cost from the security deposit. If there is proper evidence, the tenant may challenge the deduction by filing a small claims dispute with the appropriate court.

The only sure way to get the landlord to repaint is with a little encouragement of federal law, but this requires the discovery of lead-based paint and some downtime for proper removal and disposal. If it’s determined that the current paint contains lead which is known to cause serious medical problems especially in young children, then in all likelihood, the landlord should remedy the problem.

Common walls in multi-family dwellings such as entrances, hallways, etc. are also the responsible of the landlord, but there is usually no predetermined time frame. The conditions of the interior will either suggest the need to repaint on their own or the proper housing authority that becomes aware of the potential for unsanitary conditions can often step in to force the landlord to repaint.