Should you allow tenants to put nails in the walls?
When a tenant moves into your property it is natural for them to want to make it their home. This will mean surrounding themselves with possessions, moving the furniture around and adding their own personal touches.
Unfortunately, some of those personal touches may involve hanging photos or prints. This can cause issues for private landlords. Particularly when the tenant starts driving nails into the wall to hang those photos.
But it isn't nails being hammered into a wall which is the real problem. It's what happens at the end of the lease when all the photos and prints are removed. When the wall resembles a pin cushion with dozens of nails banged into it. And it's likely that it won't be just one wall in the living room which has suffered. It could be every room.
All of which means there will be a lot of damage when those nails are removed. Or when screws are removed from rawlplugs. The wall will resemble the moon's surface with craters everywhere.
Banning the use of nails would avoid this entire trauma. Inserting a clause in your tenancy agreement should sort this out. But is that really fair?
As we said earlier it is natural for a tenant to want to make your rental property into their own home. Hanging photos and pictures is a way to do this.
So the answer could be some form of compromise rather than an outright draconian ban.
One option is to make the tenant aware that damage to the plaster will be their responsibility. Costs incurred in making good the plaster will be deducted from their deposit.
But you need to be able to enforce this. As a private landlord, you will, of course, compile an inventory before the lease begins. Take photos of every wall surface. Ensure they are included in the inventory and the tenant signs the document.
At the end of the tenancy, it will be easy to compare the condition of the wall to its original state. You can then decide how much you need to deduct from the deposit to pay for re-plastering.
But there are other solutions. You could go for a completely Laisse-faire approach. In other words, simply let the tenant get on with it without imposing any restrictions whatsoever. This will certainly be popular with your tenant but you will have to absorb the cost of re-plastering at the end of the lease.
A suitable middle ground may be putting a clause in the tenancy agreement which allows the tenant to hang pictures on specified walls only. This will reduce the eventual cost of plastering.
So which approach should private landlords take?
It may be worthwhile thinking about the length of the lease. If you let your property on a short-term basis and have a constant turnover of tenants it may be wise to invoke a 'no nails' rule. Certainly, tenants on a short lease are less likely to be too concerned about not being able to hang pictures.
But long-term tenants will be. They will want to add those homely touches. It may be wise to come to an agreement with the tenant. Insert a clause in the tenancy agreement that re-plastering costs will be deducted from their deposit.
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