Landlords typically want to maximize their investment by collecting as much rent as possible from their tenants — and sometimes, that means increasing costs associated with property maintenance and upkeep to ensure that their properties are suitably attractive and comfortable to warrant higher rents.
If you are a first-time landlord, you might be wondering how you should be upgrading your property to attract higher-paying tenants. While you could drop a fortune renovating your property and installing top-of-the-line finishes, for most rental properties, the following improvements are the most cost-effective:
Relatively inexpensive to install, carpet might seem like the cost-effective flooring solution, but the truth is that carpet requires more upkeep than most landlords expect. Carpet shows wear and tear woefully easily: Dirty paths form where people walk; food and beverage stains can be difficult to remove; and pets tend to destroy carpet, digging, clawing and otherwise soiling it. Because you can’t trust your tenants to vacuum, let alone steam clean the carpets on a regular schedule, you might be compelled to replace the carpets, or at least sections of them, between every lease.
As soon as possible, you should replace any and all carpets in your rentals with more durable flooring, such as tile or laminate floors. These are much more difficult for tenants to damage, and cleaning them tends to be much easier for you and your tenants, alike.
The old chipboard cabinets that are present in many older homes may be serviceable, but they aren’t exactly appealing — and worse, they will be nearly impossible to match if a tenant does real damage to them. Thus, it might be in your best interest to upgrade your rental property’s kitchen cabinets rather quickly, installing more modern painted cabinets that are studier, more attractive and easier to repair and replace.
Though kitchen renovations can be expensive, you will almost certainly recoup the costs in the amount you can raise your rents. Tenants tend to be willing to pay more for spaces that are updated and modern, and as such a significant portion of the home, the kitchen can make a serious impression on the look and feel of the entire property.
Though built-in light fixtures might seem like frustratingly small details to some landlords, the truth is that illumination is incredibly important to how a space looks. Thus, if your property still has those old flush-mounted ceiling lights that look like an intimate part of a woman’s anatomy, it is probably time to swap them for something better. In some living spaces, it might be prudent to replace flush-mount lights with Hunter Fan flush-mount ceiling fans, which in addition to providing light will also enhance the energy-efficiency of the room by circulating air.
There are places around the home that experience much higher rates of moisture, and the moisture in these places can easily seep into the walls and cause damage. While there are tools and strategies for dispelling moisture quickly — like bathroom fans, range hoods and windows — tenants may not always use them, which means the walls of your rentals may rapidly become spotted with mildew or weakened by wetness.
To prevent this, you can cover the walls in these parts of your property in a material that is more resistant to moisture: tile. Kitchen backsplashes and tiled bathroom walls will be easier to clean than moldy drywall, for both you and your tenants.
Many landlords make the mistake of zeroscaping the yards around their property, which involves removing any trees and shrubs, killing the lawn and laying down wood chips or gravel to prevent anything interesting from growing. Zeroscaping might reduce your investment in yard maintenance — though you will still need to pay for weed control every season — but it will also reduce the amount of rent you could possibly receive.
Tenants want to take pride in their rented homes, and many want to enjoy the outside spaces during the comfortable seasons, and both require some degree of landscaping. If you are still concerned about keeping landscaping costs low, you might choose to xeriscape, which involves planting flora that is native to your region and thus will not demand more water than is naturally available through precipitation.
By investing a little more in your rental properties, you can increase your rents while decreasing your maintenance costs. By making the right choices as a first-time landlord, you can set yourself up for a lifetime of success.