10 Best Improvements to Make on a Rental Property


In this video you will learn the 10 best improvements you can make to your investor rental property that will give you the biggest bang for your buck to keep your vacancy times low and your rents high.  You won’t want to miss the common misconceptions and mistakes people make so make sure you stay until the end.

  1. Use the right carpet.  When replacing carpet, some owners take the approach of either getting something cheap because they assume tenants will destroy it, or installing industrial office carpet that will last, as they say, “30 years or more”.  Both of these approaches assume that you will be renting to terrible tenants; unfortunately it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  This is because the average person wouldn’t want cheap or uncomfortable carpet in their home, so quality tenants will not want to live there.  By assuming the worst of your tenants, you are actually attracting the worst kind of tenants.  These are tenants who don’t really care about their surroundings and will likely not care properly for the home as well, thus costing you more money.  Ask yourself, what would you want in your home?  You don’t need the most expensive carpet and you don’t want the cheapest, but get something mid-priced that is nice.  Then make sure you do a thorough screening of your applicants to find the right tenant that will care for your property.  You can learn more about that in our videos regarding proper screening and common red flags.  See previous blog posts.
  2. Fresh paint when needed.  Re-painting is an expensive maintenance cost and so you only want to do it when necessary, but don’t push if off too long or you won’t attract quality tenants.  Certainly don’t paint after every tenant moves.  Too many coats of paint can become ugly over time and it’s an unnecessary expense.  Instead, think ahead by deciding, after each move out, if the property will need to be repainted after the next round of tenants. Then make a note of it so you can get painting scheduled as soon as you learn the tenants will be moving.  Scheduling it in advance will help avoid excessive vacancy time.  Be aware that if you have one of those properties that has high turn over, it will probably need to be painted more often than if the same tenants live there for several years.  If possible try to coordinate painting to be at the same time you replace the carpet.  The labor costs of painting may be less expensive if they don’t need to tape off the carpet.  Bring it up with your painters when getting a quote.  Also, avoid flat paint. Something like semi-gloss cleans easier and is easier to match when a repair is needed.
  3. Kitchen cabinets.  The kitchen is one of the most important things to prospective tenants.  So when painting, also consider painting your kitchen cabinets.  It’s surprising the new life it gives to a kitchen that otherwise looks like it needs an expensive overhaul.
  4. Update light fixtures, door handles, doors, outlet covers, and light switch covers.  This is often overlooked, but can dramatically change the way a home feels and can quickly update it.  You can also save money by doing this at the same time the home is getting painted.  When painting, all those fixtures are taken down and then put back up after the painting is done.  You can save labor costs by taking the opportunity to update them at the same time that you paint.  Just talk to your painter about it before they get started.
  5. Fully fenced backyard.  Sometimes a backyard can become fully fenced with only a little bit of fencing to close off the side yards.  This creates a lot of appeal, especially for a home that is most likely to attract young families.  A fenced yard is always an important feature to advertise when you can.
  6. A low maintenance yard.  Keep it simple.  If the yard is not too complicated, it can often be the responsibility of the tenants, which will save you money.  A yard with a garden or lots of flower beds and shrubs that tenants are expected to maintain, will decrease your potential tenant pool making it harder to get it filled, or you will have the problem of tenants not keeping up on it and then it will require an overhaul before you can rent it again. Therefore trees, bushes, flowers, and gardens should be minimal and avoided if possible.
  7. Avoid exterior wood.  Wood fencing and decks are expensive to maintain and need repairs more often than synthetic material.  Material like Vinyl and Trek may be more expensive upfront but will save you money over time.  For a rental property you want to keep things low maintenance.
  8. Don’t use cheep materials, especially when you hire out the labor for your maintenance repairs.  Labor is usually more expensive than materials and if you are using cheep materials, it will break down and you will be paying those labor costs again.  This can be applied to light fixtures, door handles, plumbing fixtures, flooring, appliances, and just about everything else.  Remember, if the cost concerns you because you don’t want to pay for expensive things that will then be destroyed by tenants, Pause for graphic then you may need to work on your application screening process, rather than going with cheep repairs.  As mentioned previously, watch our videos Best Practices to Screen Tenants and Top 7 Red Flags When Screening Tenants.  See previous blog posts.
  9. Central Air rather than a swamp cooler or radiant heat is important to a lot of prospective tenants.  People will very often pass on a property that does not have central air.
  10. Updated windows.  Old windows is one of those subtle things that really detract from the feel of a home.  If your windows have old metal frames or are fogged up between the double panes, then it may be time to replace them.  Modern windows brighten up the home and help people feel like the home has been well taken care of.


Some of the 10 items mentioned are just part of regular maintenance and others are more applicable for older homes that need to be updated.  It’s important to consider both these things not only for rental properties you already own but also for ones you are considering to buy.  For additional tips on this subject see our video What Type of Rental Property Should I Buy? And please subscribe.

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