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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Central Florida,

    Default How Often Must a Landlord Repaint a Rental Unit

    My question involves small claims court in the state of: Florida

    I just returned home from having my arse whupped in Small Claims pre trial mediation.

    My case was Rock Solid legally, but the arbitrator played on emotional issues (defendant claimed to be broke; they all do). Arbitrator tried 3 times to get me to drop the case based on emotional pleas. But when i said I wanted a deferral so I could first speak with an attorney, she broke down and offered me a final judgement agreement, that the defendant took.

    One issue that I had to give on was the painting of the house interior. I came to court with numerous pictures of grafitti on all the kids bedroooms and many nail holes in the walls of every bedroom. Of course I had to repaint, and use Killz or equal. But the mediator said that was automatically disallowed because the 3 YEARS That The Tenant had stayed (actually they broke the 3 year lease that they had requested by not paying after 2 years and 10 month). In other words, she said no judge would rule for painting, no matter how bad the walls, if the rent had gone on for 3 years. She stated that after 3 years painting was a foregone conclusion, so I could not claim that.

    I never heard of this before, but I conceded, since the point of mediation is to negotiate. So I lost $1200 of my claim. A small price to pay for the total back rents and other damages, but I had never heard of this before.

    1) Is there some kind of 3 year rule where regardless of the damage to the walls you can not claim painting (she said normal wear and tear, I haven't painted my own homes walls in 10 years and they look fine), or was she bluffing? If there is a 3 year rule should I require repainting after every 2 years if they want to stay?

    The mediator tried to get me to drop the claim (to zero) 3 times for emotional reasons (broke, poor, can't pay, won't hold up in court, judge won't like, etc.) but I stood pat based on legal reasons, and she gave up after 3 hours and gave me a judgement agreement that the defendant signed based on mediators advice that defendant would lose in court based on the facts of the case. What a hassle. If I had not been reading these forums I may have given up.

    2) Is the mediator supposed to be one sided (for the defendant claiming to be poor, while I have proof she has a $1200 retirement income and $600 SS check that she does not admit to, that I showed proof to the mediator, who said "I don't think defendant would lie to me, I know body language...").

    I would hesitate to ever mediate again, not unbiased as I expected.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: How Often Must a Landlord Repaint a Rental Unit

    The issue isn't so much one of the law as it is of depreciation. It may be that in the court in which you were litigating, the judge takes the position that after three years the paint job in a rental house has depreciated to zero. If you can show unusual damages - such as the graffiti being applied with something that requires a special treatment of the wall before it can be painted, even if the prior paint job has been fully depreciated the additional cost of that special treatment should qualify as 'damages'. People do not, and are not expected to, treat rentals in the manner in which they might if they owned the unit they're renting - it's not realistic to expect a paint job in a rental to last ten years or longer.

    Mediators are people. Some will be softer in the heart (or head) than others.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Re: How Often Must a Landlord Repaint a Rental Unit

    No, there isn't a three year rule. But there are rules that a LL has to keep his property in good repair, and this even includes having the outside lawns neat and trimmed. I heard LL's, and homeowners complaining about what constitues neat and trimmed too.

    I got one tenant, and at one point, a neighbor across the street, whose grass on lawns got to a foot high, in the case of the tenant, I got called by neighbors and I was told that if I don't get it mowed, they would call the town. In the case of my neighbor the gas station attendent who is also of the neighbor of my neighbor across the street that says that they be calling the town, and if I can talk to my neigbor so they might not have to call. I told the guy that frankly I keep my lawn mowed because I like it looking nice, but I never heard of town codes specifying the legnth of the grass.

    As to painting, it's late for you now, but in my 30 years of landlording, I got tenants asking their units be painted every so often, and some cited that it has to be painted every 3 years. There is such a rule for "rent controlled" properties where I am, but none for everybody else. In my case, I only buy underpriced properties but not rent controlled, and start the rent at 10% below market, and if the tenant doesn't give me a hard time, I generally don't raise rents either. Some people appreciate this, some are too stupid to realize they have a good deal, so they say "oh,you should paint the place". My reply normally runs "oh, that reminds me I haven't raised the rents for a while, and I think it's about time since I got a few things to fix down where you are". Then I rattle off a few more things beyond painting, and generally, the increase in the rent would run $200/month or more, so if you ever price painters, or you hire a friend, it's cheaper if you did the paint job yourself. One guy offered to do it if I buy the paint, But my deal with him is I get the paint and if he paints it, he has to do the CEILINGS also, not just the walls, and I even pay him $100.00. I have hired painters, paint units myself back then, and ceilings are a pain. My tenant took a moment to think about it and said he doesn't think he needs the paint job. Others generally skip the paint job if the rent increase runs over $200/month, and I usually find they paint it themselves after, and keep their mouths shut.

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