Accent Walls: Yay or Nay?By Jasmine RamirezImagine renters are moving into their new apartment. They walk into the living room to see a freshly painted accent wall. Maybe it’s a calming blue hue that immediately makes them feel at home and reaffirms that they made a great decision choosing this property to live in.If done correctly, an accent wall is eye-catching. It’s modern. Most importantly, it’s memorable while they’re looking at multiple units that they could move into.It’s also fairly budget friendly. Homeguide guesstimates paint jobs at $1-$3 per square foot, or $350–$850 per room. For one accent wall, that’s less than $200.But what should landlords do if they’ve decided to create an accent wall in an empty unit, and the new tenant doesn’t like the color? A temporary fix like tempaper (peel-and-stick wallpaper) can resolve this quickly. But if the tenant really wants a full paint job, the landlord should first retain a color sample of the original wall color and then write in the lease whether the renter can have a paint “redo.”The landlord may want to set ground rules for certain colors allowed ahead of time. A bright neon wall or black wall may be difficult to paint over. Tenants should provide the color code to the landlord for approval and a touch-up can if the landlord wants to keep this color.Ideally, offering a (re)painting accent wall will help a tenant feel more like it’s a permanent home, which means the property owner would spend less time trying to find a new tenant and keep a reliable one who wants to stay for the long run.If the tenant paints the wall but still decides to move out later, the wall may need to be repainted before a new tenant moves in—unless the next tenant likes it, too. This means the lease should also confirm whether the landlord will require the repainting of the wall to be the tenant’s responsibility when the lease comes to an end. It’s also wise to specify if a tenant can have accent walls in multiple rooms.In the end, it’s up to the property owner to decide what’s best. The painting and repainting may not be worth it, and the tenant can personalize the place with furniture or paintings instead. The landlord may decide that accent walls are a branding decision for all of their properties, so people know it’s their property the minute they walk in the door. Or, the landlord can pick and choose on a case-bycase basis for multi-units. Whatever decision is made, just make sure both parties are clear on the painting terms now and later.
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