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Is the landlord required to match the original paint color?

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Is the landlord required to match the original paint color?

Postby almanyc12 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:21 pm

Hi all - I am posting on behalf of a neighbor who lives in a rent stabilized apartment. She's been a resident for over 30 years and whenever she's needed her walls re-painted, she's purchased the paints and the landlord hired a contractor to do the work. However, recently, the landlord stated they're unwilling to use her particular paints and wants to charge her a few hundred if she insists. They're willing to re-paint using a regular, white paint that they'll supply free of charge. I wanted to ask if the past practice of the landlord being willing to use her paints without charge creates any precedent?

HCR's Fact Sheet #28 seems to indicate that tenants in rent-controlled apartments are entitled to maintaining the same color scheme in their apartments if their landlord had been doing so in the past: " The painting service which the owner is obligated to provide is based on prior practice...Past practice of the owner also dictates the color scheme." Does anyone know if these protections also apply to rent-stabilized tenants? Thank you for your help.
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Re: Is the landlord required to match the original paint col

Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:35 pm

I don't know if what they've done in the past creates a legal precedent, even if the unit is rent stab. My initial reaction was probably not. But your citation below might make an argument if you wish to fight it.

LLs are required to maintain walls in good condition and painted every three years, or sooner if conditions require it. (that's from HPD Housing Maintenance Code)

LLs are not required to paint any particular color, although they usually will use white, off white or a light colored pastel. Tenants can generally paint whatever color they wish, but are required to return the room(s) to white or the original color when they leave. If a wall is black, it might take multiple coats to get it back to white.

In your case - and I have seen this before - LLs allow tenants to buy the paint and they supply the labor. Or some tenants will do the work themselves (and often get a better job). What I have not seen is a LL allowing a tenant to use their own color, but charge for the labor. I would not succumb to this demand.

The Fact Sheet you cite is for Rent Controlled (not Rent Stabilized) units. They cite "essential service" being painting AND decorating. This could boil down the the difference between "required" and "essential" service -- which are not the same thing and can vary for RC and RS.

The Fact Sheet makes it clear that past practice is a precedent ... for RC units.

I would poke around this site and this forum for discussions of required vs. essential services, and how they apply to RS units.

You can also ask DHCR for a legal opinion on this set of facts. But be prepared for them to not agree with your assessment.

You could also file a complaint with DHCR - or even withhold rent and have the LL sue you where your defense would be this issue. But understand the courts are in massive logjams for tenants who can't pay rent, so we advise not taking a painting issue to court right now.
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Re: Is the landlord required to match the original paint col

Postby almanyc12 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 4:37 pm

Hi TenantNet - Thanks for your quick response and the information. I understand the cited fact sheet is for RC units but wanted to see if any RS tenants on the forum had any prior experience getting their landlord to keep the same color scheme. It's definitely a small issue in comparison to what many others are going through so I imagine my neighbor will likely settle with the landlord's choice of color this time. Again, thank you for help.
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Re: Is the landlord required to match the original paint col

Postby 10ants » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:48 am

My understanding is that the LL is required to maintain a sanitary surface and use a 'light colored' paint. Never heard of a requirement to paint it the same color as it was before.
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Re: Is the landlord required to match the original paint col

Postby TenantNet » Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:23 am

Requirements can be in the NYC Housing Maintenance Code, or the NYS Multiple Dwelling Law. The two laws often overlap.

But also there might be requirements in a tenant's lease. Generally white, ivory or light beige are considered satisfactory.
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Re: Is the landlord required to match the original paint col

Postby Landlords Boy » Mon Feb 01, 2021 12:54 pm

"What I have not seen is a LL allowing a tenant to use their own color, but charge for the labor."

Don't have paint issues with my few remaining RC tenants.
I had an incoming tenant who wanted to use a premium paint - not color - instead of the one we usually use. I would have charged her the difference in materials if she hadn't changed her mind.
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Re: Is the landlord required to match the original paint col

Postby TenantNet » Mon Feb 01, 2021 3:09 pm

Or the tenant could have purchased the premium paint his/her self. There are many grades of paint, but the cheap stuff ... what I usually see in apartment houses, is basically whitewash. Good quality paint will last many years, and likely be cost effective in the long run.
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