One of the toughest parts of owning a rental home is keeping your investment in good condition and looking good through the normal wear-and-tear of tenants. That’s why homeowners who rent out their homes will often perform basic upkeep tasks like painting and cleaning carpets between tenants. When faced with a property that isn’t rented, take that time to evaluate your property and determine what projects need to be tackled before the new tenants move in. Making a list of necessary repairs and replacements is a great way to keep this information organized and keep yourself motivated. If you’re using a property management company, making a list for them is a great way to hold their team accountable and keep yourself in the loop.
Who is moving in?
It’s often helpful for homeowners to consider who their usual tenant is or will be. For example, a three bedroom house is more likely to rent to a group — whether that’s a family or college students. A studio will more likely be rented by a single person. This information can help guide your decisions, because it will tell you how much wear and tear you can potentially expect. Each type of tenant will use a home differently and it will help you decide where it is important to spend money. Families tend to be financially secure, long-term tenants, but they can be damaging the property. After all, children aren’t known for their tidiness. If this is the case, consider replacing worn-out carpets with laminate creates flooring that cleans easily and is very hard to damage. It might not be worth the extra expense to put in hardwoods, since they can be damaged by kids. College students are notoriously hard on rentals, but some of the damage can be mitigated. Set the home up with hard to damage flooring like laminate or tile. Pins and nails can be a pain to fill in and students love to decorate their space, so put poster strips in the bedrooms and state in the lease that they are not to hang posters in the walls, only on the provided areas. Single professionals can be difficult in their own way. While they often are not as rowdy as their young student counterparts, they are often gone for large portions of the day, and sometimes even travel for weeks or over weekends. It might be wise to invest in a quality security system to make sure that the rental doesn’t suffer from damage due to theft or vandalism since the somewhat absent tenant can make it attractive to criminals.
What areas are used the most?
Take a look around the rental itself. How is it faring? Go back through your records and see if there is any one area that is a repeated problem. Sometimes putting a little extra money into one section of your rental property makes sure you save on costly repairs and service-workers later on. For instance, if the home is a family rental and the dishwasher keeps needing repair, it might be worth investing in a high-quality new dishwasher since families will inevitably use one heavily. Along the same lines, if the multi-family home keeps destroying the grass, try looking into a stone patio to minimize lawn space without minimizing the outdoor space for the families to use. If you work with a property management company, you will be able to bounce these ideas off of a maintenance specialist who can tell you whether or not you should invest in these kinds of changes.
When should you assess the property?
When a rental is empty, it’s a good time to truly assess its condition. Walk through and make a complete list of any and all cosmetic damages. Use all the appliances and make sure they are functioning properly. Note any plumbing or electrical issues that need to be addressed. If the property has a lot of damage, don’t simply blame bad tenants. Take a look at the quality of materials being used, and add it to the previously asked questions. If the home is not really set up to handle a large family, even though it’s attractive to them, make a note of that.
In a situation where the rental isn’t set up to withstand the market it attracts, you have two choices. The first is to screen tenants and select someone that will better suit the home. This can cause problems since it narrows the pool of potential renters and can lead to the property sitting empty. Or, you can make a budget, hire a contractor and re-finish the home with new materials that can withstand the tenants that the property attracts. With this option, you have to make sure that how much you budget will be absorbed into the rent to make sure you don’t lose profit, but rather gain it over time. Whichever one you choose, making the changes will make sure your rental looks good and wears tough for tenants to come.
At Simply Residential Property Management, we frequently advise our clients on how to get the most ROI for their rental property. We believe that there is no point in owning a rental property if there’s no profit to be made. If you have questions about how to improve your investment, or just want to bounce around some ideas, give us a call: 952-831-5300!