If you’re like most landlords, you want to get your rental unit rented as soon as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes this means cutting corners or doing quick fixes so they can get them on the market. This can leave your rental looking tired and shabby over time. Every couple of years you need to take some time and do some upgrades and larger repairs to refresh your rental unit for the market. In this blog post, we will discuss eight upgrades that will make your rental look fresh for potential tenants!
I was in a single-family house that I own last week. The tenant of 10 years just moved out and left it a wreck (and left owing me a lot of past-due rent-thanks eviction moratorium!). Needless to say, my first idea was to quickly paint, clean, and get it on the market. But as I spent more time looking around, I realized that while I could get it done quickly, the 1970s entry vinyl, the institutional grey kitchen floor, landscaping filled with weeds, the backyard of dirt and peeling paint garage were not going to get me the top dollar for this house. I decided to take extra time and spend extra money to update everything.
Here are 8 upgrades that you can make to your rental to make it easier to rent and for more money:
- Flooring: If you have hardwoods, refinish them. If they are hidden under that carpet, pull the carpet and refinish the hardwoods. Vinyl plank flooring is now easy to install and durable. Take the time and upgrade the entry or kitchen to bring the unit into this decade!
- Paint colors: Are you still using stock white on everything? You do know that paint with tint in it costs the same, right? Find a standard color and stick to it. Our current colors are off-the-shelf white for ceiling and trim, Repose Grey for walls. It is a nice crisp, fresh look.
- Landscaping: For years I always said “don’t bother with landscaping, tenants won’t appreciate or maintain it”. While I still believe that most will not maintain it, they might appreciate it when they come to tour the house. Install some landscape fabric to prevent weeds, rocks (not mulch-as rocks are permanent), and then some Hosta (which are just about impossible to kill). It will spruce up the curb appeal of the house to make it easier to rent.
- Fixtures: Do you still have the brass knob entry door hardware from the 1970s? Or maybe the plastic shower surround in the bathroom? These are easy and relatively inexpensive to update with a trip to Home Depot. Update these things as they make a big difference in how fresh and updated your unit looks.
- Appliances: If your appliances are old and outdated, it might be time for an upgrade. While this can be a more expensive update, you will recoup the cost in increased rent. Many tenants today would be excited about stainless steel appliances in their homes. Plus, retiring older units may save you in a service call later.
- Lighting: Outdated lighting can make a unit feel dated. Swap out those old fixtures for something more modern. This is an easy and inexpensive way to brighten up your rental and make it feel more updated.
- Windows: Windows are another big-ticket item, but if they are old and drafty, it might be time for an upgrade. Newer windows will not only look nicer, but they will also save you money on your energy bills. I have also noticed that cities are starting to crack down during inspections on old windows, forcing you to replace them in an unplanned event.
- Screen doors: I dread putting screen doors on rental properties. They seem to get abused and don’t hold up long (and cost $200+). Again, I think that a nice-looking screen door on the front of the house goes a long way to helping the curb appeal. Spend the money to make your rental easier to lease.
Here is just a quick example of before and after. Which would you prefer to rent?
While you don’t need to do all of these things at once, every couple of years it is a good idea to take a close look at your rental and see what upgrades or repairs are needed to keep it fresh for the market. By taking the time to do these things, you will be able to get top dollar for your rental unit the next time you rent it.