Improve Your Rental Without Disturbing Your TenantsBy Paul Esajian on July 26, 2019
Rental properties are not self-sufficient units. In the blink of an eye your brand-new rental will turn five years old. Just like that you will need to consider making necessary updates and improvements. This is even more critical if your property had some wear and tear when you took ownership. You don’t necessarily need to make wholesale changes to your rental every year, but you should always try to stay one step ahead of whatever is needed. With all the rental competition in your most markets your property will be judged on how it looks and the condition it is in. Trying to extend the life of the dishwasher or kitchen walls may save you in the short term but can have a negative impact when looking for a new tenant. Here are five improvements you should consider making that won’t disturb your tenants too much.
- Periodic Cleaning: It is important to always treat your rental property like an asset. The better you take care of it the more you will get from it over the years. One thing that every landlord should do every lease it to get the property cleaned. Sure, your tenants live there, and you can argue that this is something that should fall on their laps. However, in looking at the big picture one cleaning a year won’t break the bank, will make your tenants happy and will eliminate deferred cleaning at the end of the lease. The end of the lease is always the most difficult time for any landlord. Trying to get existing tenants out while ushering new ones in is a delicate balance. You may not have the time to get the house thoroughly cleaned the way you want to. By doing it once during the lease you can eliminate some of the residual mess.
- Landscaping: You don’t need to be in real estate to understand the impact of first impressions. Renting a home is very similar to selling in the way people judge it from what they see online or when driving by. Your rental doesn’t need to have Bermuda grass and perfectly trimmed bushes, but it can’t look like a jungle either. Every spring and fall you should look to improve the landscaping. Laying down a fresh batch of mulch in the spring does not break the bank but can instantly change the exterior for the better. The same is the case with trimming any bushes leading up to the front door or trees hanging over the roof. Little things like pulling weeds from the cracks in the driveway or painting the garage take just a few hours of work but will have a lasting impact. Putting seed down in the fall can help produce fresh, green grass come springtime, which may be just in time to help fill a vacancy. Like most things in a rental you don’t need to spend thousands every year. The little things matter just as much, especially with the exterior of the property.
- Paint: This is the only item on the list that may potentially impact your tenants. However, if timed right they may not even know about it. Without thinking about it every year, or two tops, you should consider painting the main traffic walls of the rental. If you use the same eggshell or neutral colors every year this won’t take up too much time. Your kitchen and hallway walls typically get the most traffic and will need to be touched up. Depending on the size of these areas you can knock them out in one day. Your tenant may be slightly inconvenienced in the morning if they are setting up early and possibly in the evening if the fumes are still prevalent. If you buy them dinner or a bottle of wine this should be a fair swap for their inconvenience. Don’t go more than a few years without touching up the walls.
- Replace Appliances: There are two popular schools of thought when it comes to rental property appliances. One is to opt for cheaper appliances with the thought of using them for as long as they can go. The other is to put new ones in so you don’t have to think about them for years. Your long-term thoughts on the property usually shape your decision. What you can’t do is wait when they need to be replaced. You may be able to get away with one repair of the dishwasher or washing machine, but if you get called a second time it is time for a new one. Not only do updated appliances run better saving you time and headache, but they make a better impression on new tenants. Walking into a unit and seeing a ten-year-old stove as opposed to a new one has a tremendous impact.
- Basement Makeover: One of the keys to a quality rental property is utilizing every square inch of the property. If you have a finished basement you need to stay on top of it. Don’t treat it like an extra throwaway area of the property. You should treat it like you would one of the bedrooms. Look to update the flooring, freshen up the walls and look to improve the lighting. A quality finished basement will not only improve the short-term appeal but will add to the long-term value.
Not hearing from your tenants for a prolonged period is not always a good thing. Be proactive and look to make improvements a little too soon rather than a little too late.