Is there a law that you have to get written consent from your landlord before hiring a contractor to paint?

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Is there a law that you have to get written consent from your landlord before hiring a contractor to paint?

I have been a tenant for 12 years and have paid my rent. Am having a baby and decided to paint the babies room so I hired a contractor. My landlord is threatening to evict me for painting. My lease doesn’t reference painting, it just says if I make any changes I need to return the house the way I found it. I have offered many times to pay to repaint it when I leave. They are also asking for the name of the contractor stating the contractor must have written consent before doing any work. I am not comfortable divulging the name to my landlord.

Asked on July 9, 2012 under Real Estate Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If by having the painting contractor  in, you did not in fact violate any lease provisions, you cannot be evicted; you can generally only be evicted for nonpayment or habitual late payment of rent, violating the rent, or certain fairly obvious bad acts (e.g. disturbing the peace after notice to stop; deliberately damaging the landlord's property; etc.). The landlord also should not be able to bar your painter or require the landlord's written consent unless the lease gives the landlord the power to do this. You should review your lease again carefully, to see what can and cannot be done.

All that said, the landlord does have a legitimate concern: unlicensed or uninsured contractors can expose the landlord to liability. It may make sense to just quietly paint the  room yourself (and/or with friend or family help).


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