The ideal tenant is within reach. Making some improvements to a property is a worth-while investment.
Members of Generation X and Millennials are the fastest growing segment of the rental market and many of them don’t seem to be on board with the “American Dream” of moving out of the city to a nice house in the ‘burbs. Whether it’s because they can’t due to rising student and credit card debt or won’t because they enjoy the amenities that rental properties provide, property owners need to stay on top of the trends. The apartments that provide the services renters want will be the ones who have great tenants who stay on for longer.
Current Apartment Trends
Many apartment buildings refuse to accept tenants with pets. There are plenty of good reasons for these policies: irresponsible owners, noise complaints, and additional cleanup and repair in between rentals can make pets more trouble than they’re worth to property owners. But advances in cleanup technology and changing attitudes towards pets have made buildings that accept them much more valuable to renters. Dog owners like to live with other dog owners so they can talk about the pets they love. An apartment that provides dog walking services for a fee can quickly find themselves with plenty of applications.
Anyone who’s lived in a large city like New York is already familiar with the concept of paying a lot of money for very little space. Other cities, like Seattle, are starting to segment off apartments into micro-units for a few different reasons. There’s more demand for single-occupancy spaces than family units with multiple bedrooms. Tenants also want to stay close to downtown areas and other active urban centers and are willing to sacrifice space they won’t need by staying out in the city longer. Carving up larger units also keeps rent affordable, which appeals to college students and younger renters just starting out on their own.
Micro-units also lead into another important trend for young tenants: smaller units allow for less waste of heat, electricity and other utilities. More and more, concern for the environment enters the retail space. Consumers who care about organic produce, locally-owned businesses and sustainable economics want to apply those standards to the place where they live. It’s not just renters who care about the environment; even hotels are realizing the impact sustainability has on their bottom line.
Small Sustainable Upgrades
Even though you may not be running a five-star Vegas hotel, there are still small changes you can make to your property right now to see how sustainability works for you. The easiest change to make is switching out all the property’s old incandescent light bulbs for more modern bulbs. Compact florescent lamps, or CFLs, produce light by emitting UV light that becomes regular light when it hits the glass in the bulb. These lights may take a little while to get to full brightness, so they make excellent choices for lights that rarely turn off like hallways or offices. LED bulbs never burn out, resist shock and don’t emit heat. These choices can be more expensive in the short-term, but the long-term energy savings benefits make them worth the trouble.
Rain barrels can cut down on water costs. Installing barrels on the roof of your property (or at the bottom of a roof gutter downspout) allows you to collect rainwater for use in non-drinking capacity, such as watering lawns or gardens. It also reduces runoff, prevents contamination and might even help get water away from a leaky basement. Water costs are on the rise thanks to localized droughts throughout the country. Recycling captured water keeps the sprinklers off and that landscaping money in your pocket. Barrels don’t cost much to set up and install and, if you want to spend a little more money, you can install filters that allow the water to be used for everything from washing clothes to filling toilets.
If these improvements seem like something worth exploring, making your property energy efficient can lead to bigger steps. Many CFL and LED bulbs are ENERGY STAR certified, but that also applies to appliances, windows and other components of the home. There’s even a program to certify businesses and homes as ENERGY STAR reliable. These improvements can be made on a rotating basis as budgets permit, but offer multiple economic benefits too. Energy efficient properties keep heat and energy costs down, but many local governments offer tax breaks and other financial incentives for putting some money into a building for these kinds of improvements.
Upgraded Building, Upgraded Tenants
Renters want more from their service providers. The apartment is more than just a space to hold possessions. Many people work from home at least one day of the week and find having a good space increases their productivity. Even healthcare centers are embracing a more holistic approach to their spaces. Renters who feel good about their homes feel good about themselves. Renters who feel good about themselves take better care of their homes and get more active in the upkeep of the property. An unspoken advantage of a good rental property is the sense of community it invokes. Tenants who like their living situation will recommend it to friends and family. Good renters know other good renters.
A sustainable property shows you care about your building. That care reflects in the tenants that come to live in your apartments. If you care about your building, so will they. Foster a sense of community through good pet rules. Consider splitting up larger units to meet the needs of new renters. Encourage an eco-friendly environment through small sustainable changes like LED lights or rain barrels. Taking the lead on making your apartment sustainable will encourage tenants to make your building feel like home.
Image “3D Green Light Bulb” courtesy of StockMonkeys.com licensed under CC by 2.0. Image “puppy” courtesy of Flickr user Lisa L Wiedmeier.
Featured image “Apartment building at sunset” courtesy of Andrea Schaffer licensed under CC by 2.0.