Decorating for a Landlord

by Mike Cupit


I’ve been a professional decorator for most of my working life, and self-employed for over 10 years. In that time, I’ve worked on many different types of job for many different types of clients. Decorating for a landlord is a bit of a strange situation. They don’t live in the property themselves and they always have an eye on profit margin. I’ll explain why this is a problem.


The average tenant may rent a house for say 18 months before moving on. Ideally, every time a tenant moves out, a landlord would want a full redecoration, as well as changing any tired looking carpets, blinds, curtains and anything else. It would normally cost in the region of £3,000 for a decorator to come in and paint a full house. The landlord might also have to fork out another £1000 on carpets and anything else that needs replacing. So, by those calculations, a landlord could conceivably spend £4,000 every 18 months on maintenance. That’s over £200 per month lost in renovation costs!! By the time they’ve paid their monthly mortgage repayments, they could easily be losing money, rather than making it.


Those renovation costs need to come right down and often the decorating budget is cut from a few grand, to a few hundred quid.


A Landlord’s Standards


You may think a landlord’s budget is unrealistic, but if a decorator understands the situation, it’s fine. Stop looking at it as a full redecoration and start thinking of it as a “quick freshen up”. That normally means minimal prep and one coat on everything. Sometimes not even that!!


As a decorator, you should take your client through each room and have a detailed chat about the level of work you’re going to carry out. You may decide between you that some ceilings or the odd wall is fine and doesn’t need painting. Or you might do a little bit of filling, spot prime, then apply one big coat. Woodwork often just gets one coat of satinwood.


Materials are cheap too!! We’re talking contract matt and either Crown Trade satinwood or Dulux Once!! One good tip is to try and use the same materials as the landlord used on the last freshen up. By doing this you have more chance of getting away with one coat.


Quoting for a Landlord


As mentioned above, you must have a detailed chat about the level decorating they expect you to carry out. Write a detailed spec, number of coats, which walls, which products etc. Go into as much detail as possible. Fire it all across via email and make sure it’s all agreed before you touch a paintbrush. That way, if your client isn’t 100% happy, as long as you’ve completed what you said you would, you’ll be covered.


You can offer them different levels of services for different budges too. The easiest way I find to do this is by saying, “I can spend 4 days in here for £x and get this done. Or for another £y amount, you can also have this, this and this.”


Is it even worth it?


I’ve worked on some spectacular houses, but I still love decorating for landlords. It’s easy because you don’t need to be as anal about your work. Come in, wally a big thick coat on everything, then leave. It doesn’t take much in the way of skill, you just get on with it.

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