A tenant cannot repair or alter the rental premises in any way without the landlord’s approval, but there is a provision in Mississippi landlord tenant law for “repair and deduct” by the tenant under certain circumstances. Consent is also required for changing or installing locks, and for installing a security system, or altering a security system that has been provided by landlord.

Examples of repairs and alterations are putting up wallpaper, painting, demolition, carpentry work, and installing fixtures. So, if a tenant changes the wall color without the landlord’s prior approval not only can they be responsible for the cost of repainting the wall to its original color, but they are not entitled to compensation for the paint materials and labor they used when changing the wall color in the first place, even if the landlord decides to keep the new wall color.

Tenant’s right to repair and deduct

Mississippi tenants have the right to take matters into their own hands when there is a material defect in the premises that is a breach of the rental agreement, or if the landlord fails to properly maintain the premises, as per Miss. Code § 89-8-23, Duties of Landlord. Proper procedure must be followed by the tenant.

The tenant must first provide proper notice to the landlord about the material defect which is a breach of the rental agreement. Since the landlord has 30 days to remedy the defect, the tenant can repair the defect if no repair has been made by the landlord within the 30 day period allowed for the landlord to make the repair. The tenant is then entitled to reimbursement of the expenses for the repair, which reimbursement must occur within 45 days after submitting receipts for the work. The tenant can only seek this remedy (repair and reimbursement) if they have not breached their own maintenance obligations and the reimbursement, they are current on their rent, and the reimbursement amount does not exceed one month’s rent. Furthermore, the tenant can only do this once in a six month period.