As the cold days of winter approach and the calendar year starts to wind down, many property owners and managers are starting to put some thought into what they want to get out of their property in the coming year. If you have ideas for how to improve your rental, you’re not alone. But, just what should you prioritize, and how can you make significant improvements without spending a fortune? In this article, we’ll review some of the top rental improvement projects you should consider tackling this fall and how they’ll benefit your rental property.
Have the property’s furnace inspected and tuned up
Malfunctioning cooling and heating systems are a major headache for both renters and property owners. When it comes to the reasons behind renter dissatisfaction, “high winter heating costs” are near the top of the list. As an owner, you can keep your repair costs low and your renter happy by scheduling a fall heating tune-up before the coldest months of winter arrive.
During your maintenance appointment, be sure to ask the HVAC contractor about the overall state of the furnace unit. In many cases, as a furnace nears the end of its operational life, it will become more prone to breakdowns, operate less efficiently, and heat the property less effectively. An annual tune-up is your opportunity to get a heads-up for when your heating system needs to be repaired or replaced.
Upgrade the flooring
In rental properties, floors tend to experience more wear-and-tear than in a typical home. This is especially true for carpets: as a property owner, you’re entrusting the renter to care for the carpet, and carpet issues can be exacerbated by children and pets. If you’ve noticed that the unit’s carpets are starting to go downhill, it might be a good time to look at removing them and putting in something like vinyl or laminate flooring. Over the past five years, both types of floors have come a long way when it comes to durability, visual appeal, and cost.
There are other options to consider, as well. As you might expect, tile continues to be a popular choice in bathrooms and kitchens. However, more and more property owners—especially those with modern, chic properties—are going with a stained concrete floor look. This is arguably the most durable type of floor for a rental property but bear in mind that it’s not a good fit for every rental. Some prospective renters—such as those with children—may not feel that it’s for them.
Change out fixtures, lighting, and other accessories
A design facelift for your rental property doesn’t have to be a major expense. In many cases, just changing out accessories and fixtures is enough to reinvigorate a space and bring new life to a property. Here are some relatively inexpensive projects you can tackle this fall:
Light tends to get overlooked, but it has a major impact on how space is perceived and used. Harsh fluorescents and panel lighting can make your rental come off as lifeless, sterile, and drab—probably not what you’re going for if you want to attract top-quality renters. In the kitchen, consider adding hanging pendant lights, under-cabinet lights, and even ceiling-mounted spotlights that highlight the countertops and cabinets.
Of course, nothing beats natural light, so you may also want to examine the windows and skylights throughout the property to see if there are ways to bring more sunshine into the rental during the day.
Arguably, this is the simplest upgrade you can make to the property. Sometimes, new interior and exterior paint are just what the doctor ordered for a rental that comes off as “old” or “outdated.” Interior paint inside of a rental property tends to show signs of wear faster, especially if your past renters have had children or pets. Exterior paint is a boon to your property’s curb appeal and can send a positive message to prospective renters before they even walk through the front door.
You can save money by handling the painting yourself, or bring in a professional to make sure that the job gets done right.
You can replace the knobs and pulls in your kitchen with new ones that complement your countertops, cabinets, and appliances. Speaking of appliances, be sure to change out the stove, dishwasher, or laundry machines if any of them are getting up there in age. Similarly, replacing a kitchen sink that is starting to show signs of stains with a stainless steel or ceramic “farmhouse-style” sink is also a good way to go.
Get started before the end of the year
It might be tempting to push off rental renovation projects until the start of the new year, but getting a head start on upgrades that will increase the rental income of the home now means you can enter the new decade on a high note.
Katy Peterson is the communications specialist at Southern Air Heating and Cooling, a professional HVAC and plumbing repair company in northern Louisiana. Katy has been in the industry for almost ten years and enjoys writing about topics that help homeowners keep their home repair at minimum expense.