The ideal tenant is within your reach. Rental property repair and improvements are a worthwhile investment to increase occupancy in your building.
The rental market is growing, particularly in urban areas. More people are opting for the convenience of renting and living in town—which is great news for property owners, particularly in cities. While you can’t change your building’s location, simple property repair, improvements and upgrades will easily increase your appeal to the ideal tenant. Not only will upgrades boost your occupancy, you’ll retain great tenants who are willing to pay a little more for their ideal property.
Simple Property Repair: Upgraded Building, Upgraded Tenants
Property owners know the rental market has changed over the last few years. Young professionals, Millennials and Gen-Xers are drawn to renting because of the convenience, access to city living and changing views on the appeal of homeownership. These young renters are often drawn to apartment living because of the amenities. Buildings that provide the services renters want will have great tenants who stay on for longer.
At the end of the day, most property managers know tenants are looking for a clean, safe, reasonably-priced space in good repair. Focusing on easy property repairs and upgrades to meet these requirements, will keep your renters happy and many will even be willing to pay a little more in rent.
One of the biggest conveniences of renting is the ability to call you, the landlord, when something goes awry. For younger renters who aren’t familiar with home repair, responsiveness to property concerns is critical. Every property manager and landlord should know how to patch a wall, fix a leak (or call a plumber) when there’s an issue. Having electrician, water heater repair and plumbing services on speed dial will quickly resolve many of the issues renters face.
Re-investing those security deposits into small property improvements and upkeep is a wise policy. Cleaning carpets, applying fresh paint, and even hiring a cleaning service to deep clean in-between renters will do wonders for increasing tenant appeal.
Older buildings could benefit from a check of the heating or boiler system, regularly. Installing a water softener system in your building will also prevent wear and tear on your existing equipment due to hard water build up. The up-front investment will stave off plumbing issues and clogged pipes for years to come—a major relief when it comes to apartments stacked on top of each other. One small water leak can upset several tenants and cause a huge problem.
Regularly check the air circulation in your building and watch for areas where mildew, mold and rot may happen. Proper ventilation and the assistance of an HVAC expert will ensure your building is running cleanly and efficiently.
Safety precautions are always important. Ensure there are working smoke alarms in every apartment (and tenants never disable them). Fire codes will vary by state, but generally speaking there should be a detector in every sleep space and one in every living area. Carbon monoxide detectors may also be required. Check the fire codes to ensure your property is up to regulation. Providing a fire extinguisher for every 3000 feet of space is another important requirement. Again, regulations may vary by state, so always check you’re compliant.
Other safety and security improvements include checking all locks on doors and windows are in working order. Caulk around windows regularly and check for any damage. Door lock replacement is a simple fix and one that should be done between renters. Install a motion detector, porch or hallway lighting in shared spaces.
If you’re looking for the greatest cosmetic upgrade bang for your buck, flooring is generally a good place to start. Opting for laminate or vinyl flooring is cost-effective but may not provide the lasting return on investment and durability of hardwood or tile. Carpet is typically the most affordable option, but if you choose carpet in your building, expect to replace it frequently. Opt for a low-pile or a rugged indoor/outdoor type of carpet made for high traffic. Vinyl has come a long way as has laminate but won’t offer the insulation of carpet, which also provides noise reduction in a full building.
Another easy property repair and upgrade is to provide more storage solutions to renters. Installing a wardrobe and additional bathroom or kitchen cabinets is an inexpensive way to offer renters more space solutions and appeal. Open shelving is a popular kitchen option providing renters with flexibility for their cooking area.
Appliances should also be checked between renters, cleaned and updated if necessary. A stove in poor condition is a major hazard. Have a professional check the gas hookups and ensure the oven is clean and working well. Older refrigerators, washers and dryers may also present a concern. Renters are less likely to treat these appliances with the care of a homeowner. Upgrades are a necessity from time to time.
Renters want more from their service providers. The apartment is more than 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. Consider the wants and needs of your renters and make property improvements accordingly.
Small Sustainable Upgrades
Energy efficient properties keep heat and energy costs down, but did you know many local governments also offer tax breaks and other financial incentives for putting money into a building for these kinds of improvements? Not only does sustainability appeal to modern renters, but it will improve the reputation of your building too (and may land you extra money).There are a few small changes you can make to your property right now to see how sustainability works for you.
The easiest change is switching out all the property’s old incandescent light bulbs for more modern bulbs in all shared spaces. Compact florescent lamps, or CFLs, shine 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’re excellent choices for lights that rarely turn off like hallways and entryways. LED bulbs resist shock and don’t emit heat. These choices can be more expensive in the short-term, but the long-term energy savings benefits outweigh the initial cost.
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 help route 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 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, 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 buildings as ENERGY STAR reliable. These property improvements can be made on a rotating basis as budgets permit but offer multiple economic benefits too.
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. A sustainable property shows you care about your building. That care reflects in the tenants who come to live in your apartments. If you care about your building, so will they. 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 embrace your building as home.
Keeping Up with Current Apartment Trends
While you can’t move your building closer to a bus stop or train station, or always offer a larger parking space, you can offer simple solutions to keep up with the lifestyle trends of your renters.
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. Foster a strong sense of community in your building by offering opportunities for renters to get-to-know one another. An occasional building meeting or get-together create a neighborly environment and encourage responsible renters who look out for each other.
Another way to add appeal to your rental units is to reconsider your pet policy. 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 property owners who accept them much more valuable to renters.
By adopting a few new practices and doing simple property repairs, you’ll keep your renters happy for years to come. If you’re wondering how to find good tenants, these quick fixes are a great place to start. Improve your apartment value and see tenant stability and growth with these easy rental property solutions.
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.