Features to upgrade to make your rental property more attractive

As most property owners know, managing tenants and their needs is only half the battle. The other half is finding good, long-term tenants for your property at a price point that pays the bills and generates revenue for you. No matter how small, large, tranquil, or competitive the rental market is in your area, there are several ways you can go about making your rental property more attractive to good renters. In this article, we’ll run through your options, from intensive, long-term projects like remodeling the property to ways you can prevent tenant dissatisfaction and further problems.

Weigh the costs and benefits of a large-scale remodel

There’s a certain tipping point where small, incremental changes to your property are going to have diminishing returns. If it’s been a decade or two since you furnished or upgraded the rental, chances are that many of your competitors in the market have leapfrogged your property by completing an overhaul. Your 1980s galley-style kitchen is going to have a hard time directly competing with their stone countertops and open floor plan. Instead of lowering your price—which cuts directly into your profits—it might be a better idea to invest in remodeling your property.

Focus on your kitchen and bathroom first. These are the two areas of the property where you’ll get best-possible return-on-investment. They’re also the places that tenants tend to look at first to assess the quality of the property. If you’re looking to attract high-quality tenants, a remodeled kitchen is a great place to start. Consult with a design expert and see if it’s possible to remove walls and embrace an open-kitchen concept. Install new granite or quartz countertops and match them to new cabinets. Pair these upgrades with new appliances—a functional upgrade for the tenant that will mean less repair calls for you.

Either way, don’t forget the basics

At a baseline, tenants expect the property to be comfortable and safe. In many states, the law supports that right, often allowing tenants to break leases in the event that the property experiences serious issues. Neglecting the most basic upkeep of the property could be setting yourself up for major headaches and lost income down the road. 

For example, if your rental is located somewhere that experiences either sweltering summers or frigid winters, it’s important to schedule regular, professional heating tune-ups to ensure that the cooling and heating systems are in good working order. If either of those systems breaks down, you’ll want a local, trusted company you can call to get them back up-and-running quickly, so that your tenant experiences the least-possible system downtime.

The same thing goes for plumbing and plumbing problems. Keep your property’s plumbing in tip-top shape, and you’ll be far less likely to get a frantic call from your tenant at 2 a.m. about a leaking pipe. Those kinds of problems are a double-whammy: not only do they have the potential to directly impact your revenue stream from your current tenant, but you also risk your property getting bad online or word-of-mouth reviews.

Or, focus on small, quality-of-life upgrades

Not every property owner has the cash on hand to be making major renovations. After all, each week you need to have the property vacant is a week of lost revenue. That might not be worth it. However, you can still make some upgrades that improve the overall “curb appeal” of the property without spending a small fortune. Here’s our best tips for making your rental one that prospective renters won’t just scroll past online:

  • Keep the landscaping simple: In many rentals, overgrown and messy landscaping can be a major turnoff for renters. Simplify your outside landscaping with easy-to-care for features like river rock, pavers, and light flowering shrubs. Grass can be a big plus for many renters with children or pets, so be sure to keep some grass in the yard if you’re targeting those types of renters.
  • Add lighting: Unless you’re furnishing the place, many renters will supply their own stand and table lighting. However, adding pendant lighting over the kitchen counters, downlights in the living room, or floodlights for the yard can make the place feel a lot more welcoming, inviting, and safe—especially at night.
  • Embrace technology: Renters will appreciate upgrades like smart thermostats, video doorbells, electronic locks, and more that give them more control over the space. These modern amenities also send the message that you’ve been keeping up with the property and that you, as the property owner, are actively looking to improve it. For the relatively low amount of money these upgrades cost, that subliminal benefit is easily worth it.

You never get a second chance at a first impression

Remember that good tenants, in any rental market, are a valuable, sought-after commodity. Even in places where the overall rental demand is high compared to the supply, property owners still need to work to attract high-quality tenants: long-term, stable renters who pay their rent on time and help maintain the property. These tenants often have their pick of many properties. It’s up to you to make yours stand out above the rest.

Start with the tips in this article, but also consider talking to other landlords and real estate agents in local meetup groups about the upgrades that have paid off for them. If experience is the best teacher, be willing to learn from others, and you’ll be on the road to a more attractive rental property that generates more, consistent revenue.

Victoria Sanders is the communications director and senior writer at Reimer Home Services, a professional home repair & HVAC company servicing Western New York. She has been working within the home repair industry for almost 15 years and enjoys sharing her insights on home repairs with homeowners and real estate professionals. At Reimer, we understand that being invited into a customer’s home to perform a service is a privilege, and we take this responsibility very seriously.