How to Improve Your Rental Property As a Landlord

How to Improve Your Rental Property As a Landlord

Improving your rental property allows you to attract better renters and charge higher rental rates. It can also increase the value of the home if you ever decide to sell it, so making improvements benefit you no matter what. However, not all property improvements are equal. If you’re thinking about making some upgrades, then you’ll want to make the upgrades that will bring the most benefit while saving you money. Here are five of the best improvements you should make for a rental property. 

1. Give It a Good Interior Paint Job

While this one may be self-evident, never underestimate the power of a great-looking paint job. While many landlords stick with plain white or off-white, there’s no rule that says all of your rental walls have to be neutral.

For example, you might consider painting a focal wall in the living room or den if you have an architectural feature like a built-in fireplace. Paint this wall a deep color like cobalt blue or burgundy and the walls around it a more neutral shade. This adds drama to the space and makes it look inviting to many renters. 

This advice may not appeal to all landlords, but if it does appeal to you, think about doing it. Having at least one standout feature in the home could mean the difference between finding an ideal tenant and not. It could also make a difference in the price you can charge for your unit. If your unit has great improvements, you may be able to negotiate a higher rent than otherwise planned. 

2. Change Out the Front Door

Your front door has great ROI potential, according to Southern Living. Replacing your front door with French doors or a door that has a steel core can net you a rate of return of almost 500% come sale time – if you decide to sell your rental property. Even adding new paint and repairing any damage on the door can help.

While you’re at it, know that it pays to make all necessary improvements to your front door (and all the home’s doors, for that matter). These can include painting and repairing, but also adding weathering touches like an exterior door sweep to help your renters keep their energy costs down.

Make sure to also add locks to the doors of your rentals. No one likes having their space broken into and having sufficient locks will reduce the probability of robbery. This should be a combination of a chain lock and a lock on the doorknob itself. Both types of locks are required to deflect theft because if you rely on a chain lock alone a robber can easily break it with wire cutters to get in. A combination of the two is best. 

3. Add New Light Fixtures

Many rental properties come with what can only be described as ho-hum light fixtures. Leaving them this way is a mistake on many levels, though primarily from a visual appeal standpoint. The right lighting in a home adds ambiance and warmth that’s attractive to both renters and buyers.

Granted, it’s important to choose fixtures that appeal to a brand range of tastes and decors. However, that still leaves you with a number of options to choose from. On a related note, it’s also good to put energy-efficient light bulbs in the new fixtures. It’s a nice touch that shows your tenants that you care about their comfort and their budget.

Make sure to do research on your different options. Choosing a light fixture that takes light bulbs that are easily replaceable is the best choice. You don’t want to choose something that will be hard to find later should a light bulb need to be replaced in one of your units. Make sure to check the energy ratings on the bulb to save on utilities.

In addition to your light fixtures, you will also want to make sure that your outlets and light switches are still in good condition. If there are multiple outlets, that are no longer working it would be worth getting an electrician to investigate. 

Replace any broken wall plates as well. You may have seen videos or been in apartments where the landlord has just painted over the previous plate. Not only does this not look great, but could damage the switch if the paint has gotten into it. If someone did that in your home would you be happy? Plates are incredibly inexpensive, oftentimes, less than a dollar to replace so make the effort to do so. 

4. Change Out the Kitchen Cabinets

A good number of people spend the majority of their time at home in the kitchen, cooking, doing homework, and socializing. In light of this, it makes sense to remodel the kitchen. If a whole kitchen remodel is outside your budget, then you may at least want to think about upgrading the cabinets.

This improves not only the look of the kitchen but can add extra storage space, which appeals to most renters. While you’re at it, you may also want to change out the fixtures on the cabinets and drawers, adding new knobs and handles, respectively.

Make sure to pay attention to any sales on appliances at your local hardware stores. This will be the best time to purchase an appliance that you can store in a storage room or garage. You don’t want to wait until something breaks, to run out and get an appliance for your tenants. At that point, there may be no good deals on the appliance and it may take several weeks or months to get it delivered. This will cause a headache for everyone involved and you may lose the tenant. 

5. Convert the Attic or Basement to a Bedroom

If your rental property has an unused attic or basement space, then you may want to upgrade these areas to full living spaces. This home improvement is logical from a budget standpoint, even if it costs you a bit of money upfront.

In many cities, finding suitable housing continues to be a problem, particularly for anyone looking for something with more bedrooms. This holds especially true for families that have school-aged kids. If your rental is in a great school district, creating additional bedrooms from unused space can be one way to attract these types of stable, long-term tenants. It also provides the opportunity to create a unit that costs more due to the extra space. 

Final words on Improving Your Rental Property

Improving your rental property allows you to attract better, more long-term tenants in the short-term and more enthusiastic buyers in the long term. However, not all home improvements are equal. Make sure to make improvements that provide value to your rental property. 

While it goes without saying that your rental house should have excellent curb appeal, it needs more than that to attract the right kind of renter. The price that you set for your unit has to make sense for the value that it provides. If your unit is not in great shape you won’t find anyone willing to rent it out. Although this list of five improvements is by no means exhaustive, it does represent a good place to start your rental property home improvements.


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