Decorating advice for Landlords and Property Management Agents

Landlords and Property Management Agents sometimes ask our advice for maintaining paintwork in apartment blocks. This includes in-between tenancy commercial decorating as well as regular cyclical maintenance of common spaces and exteriors, as well as Section 20 and JCT decorating work.


We’d always recommend focusing on practical and durable finishes, whether the buildings are for high-end residents, middle-class families or student-type digs.

Cheap paint is always a false economy – coverage is poor and it will often need at least one extra coat. If you’ve ever wondered, paints sold as “Trade” are far from the cheapest – but they are usually high quality and tend to have very good coverage. They are also favourite with the decorators as they go on smoothly and easily.

Boutique paints

Some decorators hate the boutique paints such as Farrow & Ball. We use them often, but there’s no denying they are harder to use, and if a touch-up is needed later you will usually need to repaint a whole section. From a pure practicality viewpoint they are probably not be the best choice for anything but high-end rental properties.

Landlords don’t want to have to spend money doing a complete renovation between every tenancy, and a good choice of materials can make the finishes long-lasting enough to survive the heavier use that multiple-occupancy areas will get.

Ideally the work in between tenancies can be kept to touch-ups, with full redecoration on a planned schedule of between every three and five years. That is usually achievable if the materials are good quality and proper preparation is done prior to painting.

Schedule your renovation

Landlords will also want to schedule decorating work around changes of tenancy so they can keep properties at work. From a decorator’s perspective we also find it much easier to work in an empty property and can get the job done that much faster – which will be reflected in our quotation. We can also help by planning out-of-hours decorating work where needed. It helps us to make arrangements well ahead of time.

The landlord or agent’s final inspection of the property will also help to create a schedule of works for the decorators. Redecorating between tenancies is best started the day after the tenants vacate, with all supplies ready to go.

A frequent problem in London’s climate is mold, whether from damp, cold spots, or just poor ventilation. Tenants will rarely take action on this themselves, as you probably would in your own property. Barrier paints and anti-fungal paints can be used to suppress the appearance of mold and if there’s any question we’d recommend using them in areas that might be affected. The extra cost is minimal, and certainly much less than fixing it later.

White and Magnolia

Estate Agents will usually encourage very light colours to create a feeling of space and cleanliness. But white and magnolia are likely to require more frequent redecoration, especially in buy-to-let properties. These very light colours are quite hard to keep clean and they are only likely to receive superficial cleaning from tenants. Mid-toned colours, such as light taupes, beiges and greys are the best from a simple viewpoint of practicality and durability, while still being neutral and light. They’ll also go with more other colours.

Also see our separate post on advice for care of external paint protection in winter here

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