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SHOULD YOU ALLOW TENANTS TO USE NAILS IN WALLS?


Tenants can sometimes make a mess of walls in rental units when they use nails or tacks to hang pictures and artwork. In some cases, hanging decorations can be heavy, and the typical nail length may not be sturdy enough to hold them, so the tenant may use a larger, more heavy-duty hanging device that creates a bigger hole in the wall. This creates a dilemma for you, the property owner because it can be costly and time-consuming to fix large holes in the walls.

Some property owners don’t allow tenants to poke holes in the walls, while others do. So, should you allow it or not? This question depends on many variables, including the material the walls are made of, the age of the home, the number of previous repairs, and the types of nails used for hanging things. Plaster can chip when nails are hammered into walls. This can lead to costly repairs. Drywall tends to peel away but can be just as unsightly when nails pull out of the wall and can sometimes take some of the walls with them.


Some property owners do not want tenants putting any nails on the walls. This makes it difficult for tenants to feel at home, especially if they have no other options for displaying art and other wall decorations. There are certain adhesive hooks and other devices that are designed for hanging decorations without affecting the wall, but they can be expensive, unreliable for heavier objects, and can sometimes peel off the paint during removal. In such instances, it may be a good idea for you or your property manager to invest in sturdy, yet attractive shelving units that run from the floor to the ceiling, or at least high enough that many pieces of art can be displayed. You could also install wall-mounted shelves in the living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms.


There are easels and stands for large canvas paintings and other large pieces of art. Tenants should be encouraged to use these to display their personal favorites if forbidden to use nails on the walls. However, you should keep in mind that some artwork might just look better hung on the walls.

For some property owners, a certain limit on the number of nails used in walls can be a great compromise. Another compromise is to allow smaller or lighter pieces to be hung using the adhesive strips or hooks while using shelves and stands for larger pieces. Large shelving is usually more likely to work in rental units that have plenty of space or in living rooms.


The stick-on types of wall hangers are a good solution in many cases. However, they have been known to pull paint off the walls on some occasions. Fortunately, doing some touch-up painting on walls is usually far better than having to repair holes in the walls. Usually, apartments and other rental units are painted between tenants anyway, so there may be no extra cost for labor or supplies.


Some tenants know how to properly hang paintings and artwork so the number and size of holes in the walls are limited. Many do not know how to properly hang large paintings. If tenants are not knowledgeable, it may be a good idea for landlords to help tenants with hanging their paintings and artwork, so they understand how to limit the damage to walls. It may also be a good idea to have tenants get their artwork professionally framed. This helps limit the stress to nails and hardware used on the walls, which means there may be less damage to the walls.


There is also the question about how large the nails or hangers should be if landlords decide to allow tenants to hang their art on the walls. Large paintings, carvings, and mirrors usually require wall anchors, especially when hanging them on drywall. If they are not installed properly, wall anchors can pull out and leave a mess behind, leaving large holes in the walls. It may be best to suggest using shelving units or easels to display very large and heavy items.


Small nail holes can easily be patched and often are not noticeable when they are patched properly. But the nails must be smaller in diameter and must not hold heavy paintings or pieces of art. Otherwise, small holes can become larger holes in no time.


Some rental owners will absolutely forbid tenants from hanging things on the walls with nails. Many smaller and moderately sized pieces can be hung with adhesive tabs and plastic hangers. Again, size is critical, because larger paintings and pictures can cause the adhesive to pull away from the wall, taking the paint with it and possibly removing some drywall as well.


Where walls in rental units have fancy wallpaper that is expensive and difficult to install, it is probably not good to let tenants put nails in the walls. It can be difficult to match patterns in wallpaper. Therefore, repairs may be noticeable in an unattractive way. Landlords may be able to specify that small nails are used only in areas with no wallpaper. Where there is wallpaper, tenants should rely on standing shelves, furniture, and easels or stands for art to be displayed.


Wooden easels and stands for displaying artwork can be attractive and can work with many decor styles. Tenants may even like the idea better than putting nails or hanging devices in the walls. When artwork is displayed on easels, stands, and shelves, it is less likely to fall. This can mean disaster if pictures are framed with glass. Nobody likes to clean up those kinds of messes and sometimes when artwork falls it can become damaged. A no-nail policy can protect both the landlord and the tenant.


Regardless of personal taste or whether you, as a rental property owner, like the tenant’s artwork, policies about nails in walls and hanging artwork should be written in rental agreements. This protects you as the owner and may allow you to take damages out of security deposits or in worse cases, seek damages in court. However, when nails are prohibited, you should also make sure to explain to the tenant how the issue will be handled if they do put nail holes in the walls.


While every rental owner or property manager is different in terms of rules, the rules and regulations should always be spelled out in rental agreements. If you do not want holes in the walls, the rental agreements should state “absolutely no holes in the walls” and should clearly state what will happen if tenants put holes in the walls. An effective property manager makes sure rules are adhered to and takes care of matters quickly when they are not.


Putting nails in the walls of rental units or not putting nails in the walls is the decision that you should make from the start of a tenancy, rather than allowing it at first, then changing the policy later. If nails will be allowed but the size is limited, tenants should clearly understand this. Giving them examples can also be helpful. You also might provide the nails for them just so there is no confusion as to what type is acceptable. If no nails are allowed, this should be strictly enforced among all tenants across the board. It’s important to be consistent in the property management industry, and a big part of that is so you don’t get confused yourself.


If nails are not allowed or are restricted to a certain size, Fayetteville property managers should show new tenants what the limits are. In addition, both the property manager or landlord and tenant could walk through the rental unit together, so any existing holes or nails can be identified or so there is proof that no holes in the walls exist in the unit. This can protect property managers and protect tenants when it comes time to move out and keep their security deposit.


It can be helpful to allow tenants to take pictures of the units before they move in and just after they move out. It is their right to protect themselves just as the property owners have the right to protect themselves as well. If there is a no-nail policy, the rental units should not have any nails in the walls when tenants move in. It sends the wrong message if they see nails in the walls when they are told it is against the rules.


You or your property manager should also take pictures of units so you have proof of damage, should tenants move out and leave gaping holes in the walls requiring extensive repairs. Clear pictures of every wall are necessary. Videos also work and are being used more often today in property management, because they can be more efficient.


So, should you allow tenants to use nails in the walls? The decision depends on you and/or your property manager’s preference. The decision should not be taken lightly, because nails and hammering nails in walls can cause quite a bit of damage, especially after several tenants have moved in and out. At the same time, if nails are not allowed, you should give tenants other options and may even point them in the right direction for finding easels, shelves, and stands for displaying artwork and pictures.


At Nest Managers, we take property damage seriously, even if it is nail holes in the walls. We work hard to make sure your tenants know and uphold the rules of your property, and that it is properly cared for. For more information, or to get a quote today, call 910.644.8930 or check us out online to schedule a free In Home Consultation!