14 Clever Ways to Maximize Revenue From Your Rental Property

by | BiggerPockets.com

Are you maximizing revenue from your real estate investments? If you have rental property, there are literally hundreds of ways to make extra money. I often thought if I had 20 properties to take care of that it would be a full-time job for someone, possibly me. In addition to the rental income, at a time I was running a small lawn care company, trying to generate enough money to live on. That mowing, plowing and miscellaneous maintenance generated capital to kickstart my seed money for real estate investing.

Now that I have my rentals, I always look to save money or generate new revenue streams from my tenants. I am not looking to gouge them, but for ways to leverage my skills and their money.

14 Clever Ways to Maximize Revenue From Your Rental Property

1. Manage your own property.

If you can manage your property at all, this is a huge savings. A property manager will get up to 10% of the rents just to take and make calls. You can do that from anywhere in the world as long as you have cell service. You need to be able to take a call and make a call. Save this 10% of gross rents and increase your total profit by as much as 20%+.

Related: How to Maximize Revenue While Minimizing Vacancy in Real Estate

2. Do as much maintenance as you can.

If you live close to your property, do as much as your own maintenance as possible. Maintenance shops get $50+ per hour, often over $100 per hour.

Most maintenance items are not rocket science; if you can fix items at your own home, you can fix them in a rental. Just verifying the problem before calling someone to repair it will save quite a bit. Troubleshooting and fixing the small stuff can save thousands.

3. Avoid vacancies.

Filling rentals is one of the most difficult parts of being a landlord. It is much easier than it used to be. The rental market is very strong, and the free online marketing tools are plentiful. Paying $200+ for an ad that runs only a few days is obsolete marketing. Any quality renter will have a way to view online ads.

No one cares more about filling a property than you do. If you live close enough to your rentals, consolidate the effort by showing your place just three times a week. If you live farther, align all the showings about 20 minutes apart, and get your place rented in a day. Make sure all applicants are pre-screened and that they confirm before arriving.

Hiring a property manager to get a tenant will cost you a month’s worth of rent, which is 8.3% of revenues. Then add another 10% a month for their ongoing services.

If you are concerned about finding enough renters, you can always increase demand by lowering price (or increasing marketing). Likely, you will still make more money than using a property manager.


4. Add a coin-operated laundry.

In a multifamily building, you can add coin-operated laundry if you do not already have in-unit laundry facilities. Even if you have built-in apartment sized laundry equipment, you can provide larger machines in a common area for an added price. No tenant wants to load up their laundry and go to a laundromat.

If you have coin-op equipment already, make sure it is working properly. I see many tenants of properties I do not own with coin-op laundry go to a laundromat. That is easy money to get, and makes it better for your tenants. If you have coin-op equipment, be sure to provide a change machine. It’s a lot easier to have bills to take home than a bucket full of quarters. And tenants do not like to beg at the bank or gas station for quarters.

Keep in mind, quality tenants will list in-unit laundry as their top rental amenity. Many will not even consider a rental without in-unit laundry. If you can add laundry in the unit, you can raise rents, get better tenants and faster rentals.

5. Implement pet fees.

Virtually all tenants have a pet (or two+). Adding extra pet rent, such as an additional $25 per animal, can greatly increase revenue. Virtually all rentals charge for pets. I charge $25 and do not have an additional pet deposit. Remember, solid renters control their pets. A great renter will have a great pet.

If you do not allow pets, remember this: Quality renters can go anywhere, but most would rather sleep in the gutter with their pet than the Taj Mahal without it. Many renters would have a difficult decision to make if they could only bring their pets or their kids.

6. Sell partial months.

Typically, when a tenant leaves my rentals, they leave at the end of the month. I have been very successfully with one day turns, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. I can often find a great tenant, and their existing lease ends a month later than I like. Here is the solution.

Sell a half month. Offer to prorate the last two weeks of the month. The renter will technically be renting two places for the last half of the month. You will take a two week vacancy rather than a month and not lose the quality renter. You get additional rent, and the renter gets time to move and clean out their old place at a more relaxed pace. They get cheaper moving trucks and should be able to get all of their deposit back from the old place with the extra time for cleaning.

Get the first two weeks of rent, then collect rent on the first. Never collect on anything other than the first of the month. When you have multiple units, it will be impossible to keep track of otherwise.

7. Offer satellite TV.

Give your new renter your satellite TV referral code on their move in or just prior to it (assuming you have satellite TV). I have been successful in getting discounts on my own TV service, and the renter gets a great deal, too. There are ways to make additional money in larger 5+ unit apartments with exclusive provider contacts and reselling the satellite or TV service.

Adding in a “free” wi-fi service will help you get rented and may also be a way to increase rents.

8. Get a real estate license.

If you have tenants, get a real estate license. At some point, if you have good tenants, you can be their realtor. That can put a few dollars in your pocket fairly quickly. Not all your tenants will use you, as everyone knows a realtor. If you can get just a few, it could increase your earnings now, as well as when they send referrals later. I sell homes to my tenants when they leave and offer easy lease terminations and a $500 bonus when they close. Or refer the tenant to a realtor you know and get a referral bonus. Often, you need a real estate license to get a referral.

Factor in built-in discounts when you buy additional property, and you have another cash cow.

9. Make your own keys.

I give one set of keys to every adult. If a set of keys gets lost, it’s $5 per key. All my locks have a Schlage SC-1 keyway, and I use “Do Not Duplicate” key blanks. I purchased my own key maker, and I make my own keys. If I buy a new lock, I can make extra keys without a trip to the locksmith. The key cutter was less than $400, DND blanks are ~.40 each, and I have saved easily more than that. Factoring in the convenience of skipping the trip to the locksmith, and the savings are exponentially better.

You never have to worry about giving up your last key to a renter.


10. Implement lease termination fees.

When a renter wants to break a lease, there is little you can do. You can enforce the lease, or let them go.  Have a lease termination clause in your lease to make the matter plain. I charge two months’ rent for a lease termination. I sometimes lower the amount depending on how long the tenant has lived there. If a tenant is getting moving expense paid by the employer, the employer will consider that part of the cost of moving the tenant.

Of course, if they buy a home through me, there are no lease termination fees.

11. Charge holding fees.

When a renter drops off an application, they need to put money down to hold the unit – assuming they pass the background check. Call it a deposit, and it might have to be refunded. Call it a fee, and it is a sunk cost. You still need to do a background check, but a $1,000 fee will lock in the tenant. If the tenant fails the check, give the money back. If they find a place across town, keep the money. It will save you the expense of a new tenant if the tenant continues to “shop around” after they apply to your place.

Related: 4 Smart Ways to Overhaul Your Outdated Landlording Business (& Boost Profits!)

12. Collect application fees.

You need to do a background check on all tenants. It costs money; my background checks typically cost me ~$400 or more if the applicant lived outside of my state. It includes credit reports, past landlord checks, employer checks, and county level criminal checks for all states the applicant lived in for the past seven years. I charge $40 to each applicant 18+ for the checks.

13. Enact extra occupant fees.

For some reason, tenants often neglect to tell you about people who will be moving in after they sign the lease. When they move an extra adult into the rental, they have broken the lease. Do a background check on the person, update the lease, and add an additional rent amount for the new occupant. I charge $50 extra.

14. Put in vending machines

I have not yet done this, but I know vending machines in a multi-family property could be a great additional source of revenue. Kids like to spend money on junk, landlords like to get money. It’s a perfect fit. Even a $75 gum-ball machine can make a ton of money. Selling a $0.02 gum-ball for $0.25 is a great profit margin.

[We are republishing this article to help out our newer landlords.]

What extra fees do you charge? Are any of these ways to make extra money something you have not heard of?

Leave your comments and tips below!

About Author

Eric D.

Eric is a 55 year old, soon to be former, computer professional. He started several years ago to replace his “work income”, with other alternate streams. He is well on his way to retirement at age 56, and is currently making more money at extracurricular activities, than he is working at his full time job. Whether that is Financially Independent, or just old fashioned entrepreneurial spirit, is in the eyes of the beholder.


  1. Al Williamson

    Nice list Eric. I haven’t heard of the satellite TV tip. Thanks for that one.
    Regarding keys – I’m an anti-key landlord. Digital locks are great and pretty inexpensive.

    Your avoid vacancy tip is obvious but, all too often, not taken seriously enough. It is the prime directive – don’t you think.

  2. As always, you are right on the mark Al!

    Far too often landlords stick to their price, and are vacant for 3-4 months before they even get an application. That is a sure sign you are overpriced, or under-marketing.

    Vacancy is your number one avoidable expense as a landlord!

    I looked at keyless locks. I always worry about a lock’s batteries going dead, and having to let a tenant in at the last minute. Right now, I just swap locks between tenants with extra ones I have. They get moved around quite a bit (like a three-card Monte scheme…)

    • The extra $50 a month should cover any incremental utilities. You should be charging enough to cover all your expenses, or at least market rents anyway.

      The extra fee is so you have a way to charge more for all the extra people that sometimes move in after the fact. Often, you get several more people and no more rent.

  3. “Extra Occupant Fees” is a bit over the top. You’re renting a property with it’s contents. When another person goes in, the property doesn’t get bigger and it’s contents don’t increase.
    You’re not providing anything more than you did before the person moved in, so why should they pay more ?

    Yes, you might go and increase the rent slightly when it’s up for renewal to compensate for the increased rate of wear and tear, but only the original tenancy agreement expires.

    Other than that, I can pretty much agree with the list – provide better incentives and features and tax them per use, or monthly. It’s not a bad idea, but you need to get the tenant’s approval first, if you’re going to put something as big as a vending machine in the space they are paying rent for.
    After all you’re limiting the area they’re renting, thus changing the rental contact somewhat, so you need their consent.

    One good advice I give to many landlords is to tackle repairs as soon as they are detected. A repair issue would only worsen in time and require a bigger investment to remove. Also it aggravates tenants if it inhibits their normal way of living and domestic habits (e.g. electricity problems, boilers, windows, etc.)

    • Thank you for the comment, but you are dead wrong on this one. I am not referring to additional minor age children, but adults.

      You agreed to a contract with the tenant. That contract states the price and terms. It also states the number of occupants.

      When an extra person moves in, it is a violation of the contract. You can accept the violation, move them all out, or charge an extra fee. The wear and tear happens the minute they move in, not the next lease period. If you raise the rent right away, which is your option in the new contract, you can get compensated for the extra wear and tear.

      There is always extra wear and tear. And extra human occupant is no different than an extra pet; a pet might be less wear and tear. Often, the extra occupants happen right after move in, because the original occupants did not want to include them for fear of being rejected.

      Think of it this way. You rent your 2BR place to two people. After move in, the entire extended family moves in and there are now 8 people living there. You cannot evict for over occupancy, as they are all related. You can be compensated with a 6 x $50 = $300 monthly fee, which hopefully compensates for that extra wear and tear.

      Or college roommates move in. After a month, you have 5 living there. It is not over the limit. Evicting them might be next to impossible, as each person likely has a permanent address at their parents’ home – therefore they do not ‘live’ in your rental. They are only a ‘guest’. And you have to prove that they live in your rental. Adding an extra $150 a month is reasonable.

      Each extra person should have a source of income. If they cannot pay an extra $50 out of that income, get rid of the entire bunch. The extra $50 will also discourage any extra occupants.

      • Ryan A.

        I love the idea of holding everybody to the terms in the lease…
        But something tells me this would violate tenant-landlord laws.

        Look at it this way; if you can’t relate rent charges to occupancy upfront (familial status discrimination) how can you charge per person down the road? Maybe call it an add-tenant fee? But then to be charging that every month I think a judge would call you out on.

        Again – holding them to the terms is paramount, and this is an issue I’ve encountered a few times, but I’m not sure how to do it without appearing to discriminate.

        • Jason Miller

          Ryan, not if they agree to the new terms. They violated the lease, which means you can evict. You give them an option to stay and pay $50/person on a new lease or move out.

        • Ryan A.

          Be aware their agreeing to new terms and signing an amended lease does not waive their rights, whatever they may be in that jurisdiction.

          Also be aware, if a landlord does have a tenant agree to something that they are protected from by law they can be penalized.

          I guess bottom line, I would be careful not to associate any specific rent amount with any specific human attribute.

        • The Fair Housing laws in regards to familial status relate to minor children. They do not apply to 18+ years of age children, 40 year old uncles and 60 year old grandmothers.

          You cannot keep a 16 year old kid out of a home, regardless of his criminal record. Even if they were charged as an adult. Once they turn 18, they are fair game.

        • You are correct Ryan, they cannot sign away their rights in the new lease. And they cannot sign their rights away in the original lease either.

          Adding in an additional fee for adult occupants, over the first two, is not a violation of any fair housing law. Nor is adjusting the terms for adding an additional adult not originally on the lease.

          The law specifically states “The Fair Housing Act, with some exceptions, prohibits discrimination in housing against families with children under 18.” You cannot limit the amount of children either.

          There may be some occupancy standards in place, but I would have to go to court in an eviction over a new addition to the family. 2 persons, per bedroom, plus one, is an acceptable standard. I have also heard that it can be higher.

        • Ryan A.

          You’re right Eric, familial status is meant to protect minors. And you did point out you were targeting adults in your original explanation.

          I love getting behind solid ideas that support our position as landlords as long as it’s justifiable down the road.

          Thanks for these ideas.

  4. Ayodeji Kuponiyi

    Eric this article is very clever and quite simple to implement. I can see myself managing properties on my own until I have too much to handle lol. I believe if the property is turn key and/or renovated the right way with great tenants, management ought to be easy breezy. This also ties in with maintenance issue.

    I was thinking of either installing a coin-operated washer/dryer but since I only have a duplex, I think installing a regular washer/dryer would suffice and be reason enough to have a higher rent price. What do you think?

    Regarding pet fees, I think your $25 extra for pet (regardless of how many pets as oppose to per pet) would reel tenants in and may not seem as gouging to tenants. I considered charging per pet.

    I love your suggesting of selling half a month to a tenant as oppose to missing out on an entire month. So simple and win-win for both landlord and tenant.

    Can I receive cable discounts on duplexes?

    I collect application fee but never thought of a charging fee. Is the holding fee applied towards the rent or security deposit?

    • Thank you for the comment and questions!

      With better tenants, you can handle quite a few renters, especially if they are close in proximity. I charge $25 for each pet, but often I negotiate that fee a bit. Two pets for $50 is not bad, but $75 for 3 cats might be a lot. I might go $40 for two as well. Three Labradors might fetch $75 though.

      I do not believe you can get a cable discount on a duplex, but you may be able to get the entire unit wired, you pay for one service, and charge both tenants. I am not sure if that is allowed though.

      When I had section 8 tenants, I had coin-op units in my duplexes. You need to get every cent from high maintenance tenants…

  5. Phillip Gonzales

    I am a licensed realtor and didn’t even think of getting my tenants to use me as their realtor when it comes time to purchase. I also love the vending machine idea since you could clear 50 bucks a day with chips ect ! Love this article

    • Thank you for the comment!

      I do not actively recruit clients, but with my tenant farm, I project that 8-10 each year will buy a home, and I should be able to get up to 50% of that business.

      A long time ago, I investigated buying gumball machines. It doesn’t take too much to make a profit. 10 turns a day, adds up quite a bit.

  6. Matthew Jones

    Great list Eric! Vending is certainly a game changer when it comes to adding revenue to a rental property. And with all of the different types of vending machines available these days your revenue increase is limited only by the amount of space available for machines. Toys, gum and candy are obvious choices, but there are also vending machines for school/office supplies, laundry related sundries and even diaper and baby related goods. When priced to compete with local markets (adding a nominal increase for convenience) you can provide time saving services to your tenants, justify rent increase and take in additional profits from the machines themselves, win, win, win. Buying machines (especially change machines) that accept credit/debit cards helps too. Again, fantastic article.


    • Thank you for the comment and compliments!

      The larger number of units you have, the more you can add. Wen I was in the USAF, we even had a vending machine for beer! I would not advise that in an apartment (very likely illegal), but it certainly was convenient for us.

    • The holding fee become move-in money and is applied to rent and the deposit. Rent $1,000. Deposit $1,250. Holding Fee $1,000.

      When the tenant moves in, they pay another $1,250. Call it rent, deposit, or move in funds, it doesn’t matter.

    • Great Idea, but I do not do it.

      I have not really thought about renting them out. I always use front load machines, and generally buy new. I supply the machines, and include it in the rent. I do not want a tenant bringing in a low quality set that vibrates the building or leaks all over.

      I do not want to have to go around to find the used appliances, then lug them upstairs. Then, have to get rid of the old ones.

    • I would try to find used ones, or buy from a company that is selling machines without placement. There are a lot of vending machine scammers out there, be careful. They sell overpriced machines and locate them for you. And the locations do not last.

      Many people fall victim to these get rich quick scams, and need to sell their virtually new machines cheap.

  7. ihe o.

    Reading this article reminds me of the saying about knowing the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

    For example (as in this is not the only instance), it knows the cost of a property manager. The value of hiring a good one only becomes apparent after you come to the forum lamenting on how you walked into a lawsuit, got fined for some city violation, or had some contractor or loss adjuster give you the runaround.

    Real estate license entails annual license fees, a commitment to continuing education classes and a whole bunch of things you can’t do if you want to keep your license and/or can get reported for.

    Application fees in an article about maximise revenue – is that supposed to be a money maker? Plus it sounds like you are another one of those landlords that wastes applicants money on premature or unnecessary background checks and non-refundable fees.

    By all means charge $5 to replace a lost key if you want your tenants to view you as a penny pinching huckster.

    Going after an Extra occupants fee for many will turn into a pyrrhic pursuit of fools gold http://www.worldlawdirect.com/forum/landlord-vs-tenant-issues/8207-guests-tenants-wheres-proof.html
    and my suggestion would be that if occupancy limits are not being violated deal with the issue at lease renewal time and for the moment don’t be so greedy.

    A general note on all having too many fee provisions in the lease. Better applicants who read the lease may be put off and walk, those who don’t will be as pissed off as we all tend to be when we get hit by some unexpected charge and some customer service person tells us it’s in the terms and conditions.

    One idea that is unequivocally good in the article is the monthly pet fee as opposed to non-refundable pet deposit.

    As for “Kids like to spend money on junk, landlords like to get money.”……..well yes if your morals and scruples are on a par with the local dope dealer. Mine are not.

    • Thank you for the comment!

      Much of the problems that an investor will run into involves subpar tenants. Lower credit score and lower income tenants will bring on many issues, even if their criminal record is squeaky clean. It is best to avoid these types of tenants at all costs. If you do have issues, you need to be prepared.

      A RE license involves continuing education, but if you can sell one home a year, it is worth it, if your commission schedule is a good one. I get 100% of mine. It doesn’t hurt to have the education anyway. You may want to buy or sell another property too.

      An extra guest is difficult to get rid of; my leases say any guest over 7 days in a month needs a background check. It really all depends on the original tenant quality. As I previous stated, low quality tenants bring in extra occupants. That is why you should ALWAYS use a month-to-month lease with these subpar tenants.

      Most of my tenant issues have been caused by ‘extra’ occupants. Being able to charge up front for them discourages the extra people. Even an ex-cop can bite off a tenant’s finger and get arrested. It happened to me. Ex-cops need to be screened like everyone else.

      When you rent to 4 people, and eventually you have 15 people staying there, you need to be able to increase the rent. No matter how many mattresses are on the floor, you will never prove any occupancy over-limit. They will all be visitors in front of the judge. Or not be permanent residents. Or have an old address they have not changed.

      Any solid landlord will run a credit check, and a county level criminal check in all counties that the applicant lived in the last 7 years at a minimum. Also, a past landlord check and employment verification. That costs ~$40 for a single state check in my area. I am not sure how you can run fewer checks and still get a good background check.

      I have never had a problem with my fees. Lost keys cost something. Background checks cost. Pets cost. Extra tenants cost. And there is NO SUCH THING as a non-refundable deposit. By definition, and the Courts have agreed, all deposits are refundable. Pet rent is just that. Rent.

      When a tenant signs a lease, it is a contract. Violating or changing the contract needs to be addressed somehow. Putting it in the lease lets everyone know up front what the potential costs are. Quality tenants will just know they will not get charged, as they do not do the things that necessitate the extra fees.

      • ihe o.


        Yes things cost but you still give the impression of knowing the cost of everything while being oblivious to the value of things that you can’t directly associate a $ value with.

        You know the cost of lost keys but not the value of (lost?) goodwill associated with such situations.

        You know the cost of the savings of doing your own maintenance and your own real estate but not the value of having an insured licensed professional answerable for the liabilities obligations that can flow from such situations.

        Your ideas are not consonant with the concept of real estate as passive income and do not encourage a landlord to reflect whether there are more valuable ways to use their time and energy (both in and out of real estate) than trying to squeeze every dime out of a tenant.

        Do not axiomatically conclude that people on lower income are sub par. The people I rent to typically make (sometimes a lot) less than $25 an hour. I’ve only ever had trouble with one tenant, that was back in the day when I had roomates and he was an attorney for a city law firm.

        My lower income tenants know it is hard for them to find a good home so when they get a landlordthat provides one they pay on time and look after my home because they value the landlord tenant relationship they have with me. None of them have been any trouble to me, it’s the tenant with the fancy credit score who will be quick to tell you what you can do with your house and your lease because they believe they have options.

        I don’t run credit checks – if you are interested to know why search my posting history and yes all my low income tenants are regular with their rent.

        I am surprised that a guy who has a real estate license doesn’t know how to run a civil and criminal background check and verify an applicants employment without paying for it and I repeat what I said about wasting applicants money unnecessarily. Your comments also reflect a one-dimensional view on the relevance of this information and a one-dimensional approach to landlording in general. There are differences between applying for a tenancy and applying for a job or loan. Where an applicant worked 7 years ago doesn’t have much relevance to me, I don’t have an easily verifiable employment history either.

        There is no imperative that says every contractual breach must be addressed. Sometimes it makes no commercial sense to do so and you can end up getting hoist by your own petard.

        Yes one of my tenants has sublet my property and has adults that are not on the lease. Most of the people in the house are related (mother, son and aunt) and they were raised, schooled and/or work in the area. My assessment of the situation is that this family are going to be long term tenants. I visit the house regularly, it is full but not excessively so. They give me no trouble, they are regular with their rent and recently agreed to pay $75 for a repair that was associated with excessive wear and tear.

        AFAIAC they are not subpar tenants and they and my other tenants would probably think that a landlord that tries to nickel and dime for everything is a subpar landlord.

        • Deanna Opgenort

          Don’t you think the “bonus” occupants would just get a place on their own if they were well-qualified tenants? The “bonus” tenants are most likely going to be the ones you’d turn down if you knew about them ahead of time (evictions, felonies, no income, drug busts, domestic violence, lack of income, or, everyone’s favorite – “professional tenants” — look up the term).

      • Mindy Jensen

        Eric, you are absolutely correct. If you tell the tenants the fees upfront, they know what they can be charged for. I think it also tells them you mean business. Lost keys cost something, and $5 isn’t exorbitant. If you didn’t have DND keys, it would still cost them about $5 to go to the store and have one made, once you factor in time.

        And where did you get a key machine? I didn’t even know they gave them to regular people. That’s so awesome!

        Thanks for more great rental tips. I always learn something when I read your posts.

        • Thanks Mindy!

          You are correct. A locksmith would charge me $5, and I would have to go run for it. I even deliver the key for that price…

          They do not give them to regular people, but they do sell them. They only sell key machines to people that have green money (or a CC). Being a locksmith is not a requirement. Just search. Mine is a portable machine, and cost less that $400.

  8. Keith Cullum

    IHE you make good points too, I do not think necessarily that there is a right or a wrong way concerning the points being debated; in the end it’s what works for you and your business. Eric is successful with his strategy, and you are happy with your results. I take good points from both perspectives.

  9. Bob H.

    As a practical matter, how can you charge two months’ rent for a lease termination if you are holding, as I assume, a deposit equal to about one month’s rent? I can’t see most tenants paying voluntarily, and it seems unlikely that suing the tenant and dealing with collection is going to be worthwhile.

    Also, I see little value in buying a key-cutting machine when keys cost about $2 at Home Depot or Lowe’s. You should be rekeying locks when tenants move out, so lost keys are of no consequence to the landlord. A much better investment is a lock-rekeying kit, available online and at some home-improvement stores. For about $15 and a little work, you can change all the locks in a house and have three keys that fit each lock.

    • I charge slightly more than a month’s rent for a deposit. It allows me to keep the deposit for an early lease termination. I did have one tenant that was being re-located by a company. The relocation company paid the two month’s rent without any issues. I can also give breaks, and everyone is happy.

      I change the locks after every move out. I generally swap locks that I have available, and use it in a different building. With 24 tenants, I get ~10 move outs a year. So I have plenty to swap out. And I always seem to buy a lock or two throughout the year as they get damages or quit working smoothly. For $45, I get a new Schlage lock-set. All I need to change ios the part with the key. It takes only a minute or two to do it.

      I always use Do not Duplicate keys (DND), so they cost a bit more at HD, if you can even get them there. A blank costs ~.40. A locksmith charges ~$5.

      I do have a lock re-keying set. It’s full of pins and springs and other small parts. It was a experiment that I decided was more beneficial to use a locksmith for. It takes a bit of practice to rekey the lock without getting pins and springs all over.

      Once in a while, i need a few locks keyed the same, like for my supply closets. They all have the same key in all my buildings. I use a locksmith to rekey them.

      • Deanna Opgenort

        I’ve been a fan of the the Kwickset Smart-key system. @ 15 seconds to rekey the lock, & I keep several matched sets of keys (5 keys per set- 3 to tenants, 2 for me). Can be re-keyed if tenants have a purse stolen, or for workmen, or any reason at all, then switched back again at will. Tenants can do it themselves if you want.
        Only had one lock failure over the years — no worse record than regular locks.

        • Eric D.

          Great advice. I am still changing locks, but it only takes a few minutes. I have considered the electronic digital locks, but still have not made the switch yet.

          If all locks cost the same, I would go to a Motel type system with a credit card key.

  10. Casey Murray

    Great article, Eric!

    Getting your real estate license is a great point to generate additional income. Assuming the landlord treats their tenants professionally and with integrity, it’s second nature for tenants feeling comfortable enough to have that landlord as their realtor. The landlord, in essence, is just leveraging off the professional service they’ve provided tenants over the years. You get what you give!

  11. Being in the property management industry, I found this article very useful. Some great ideas to increase revenue. I love the vending machine idea. Never really thought of it. Thanks for sharing this. I found this article through another website, so will leave a nice feedback their too.

  12. Great article, nice and specific. I do most of these, but had not considered several others.

    Regarding laundry, I have a deal with an appliance repair guy. He installs and services the washers and dryers and keeps half the money and sends me half. I don’t do anything. I don’t fix anything. And get a few hundred bucks a year. You can probably find a vending guy (or gal) to come up with a similar arrangement.

    Regarding vacancies, I have been using Trulia and Craigslist. I put up nice digital photos of the property and nice descriptions of the highlights of the property. My phone rings off the hook within 10 minutes of me putting up the post. I have bread and butter houses in cookie cutter suburbs. I also check Trulia and the MLS to see what others are asking for their rentals. You can tell very quickly and very easily what the Fair Market Value of rent is. My only caution about the pet fees and the additional people fees is that you can turn a $900 rental into an $1100 rental very quickly. If the market for that house is only $900, you will have a vacancy and thus a problem.

    Thanks for the posting and the discussion.

    • Eric D.

      Thank you for readying!

      You are 100% correct. Trulia and Craigslist and Zillow are my go to advertising. It is a far cry from the $200 ads I used to run for 8 days.

      You can only get higher than market with lower quality tenants. There are some landlords that do not charge for pets, and if that is the case it is money left in the table.

  13. Deanna Opgenort

    I would think that it sort of depends on whether 5 people & 3 dogs can find another place that will rent to them…$1100 might be worth it, and you certainly don’t HAVE to charge extra if it’s 5 quiet 60-year-old retired teachers & 2 polite elderly chihuahuas.

  14. It may be good to manage the properties yourself if you only plan on holding 3-5 properties at any given period. In the long-run, you will save a tremendous amount on fees and avoid many causes for concern. But, for those investors acquiring more than just a few properties, a manager might be indispensable.

    • Eric D.

      Thank you for reading!

      It may not be clever, but I do not pick the title of the article… But is anything really clever? Or just another common sense idea that may have not been an initial thought.

  15. Karl B.

    I love the key-cutting machine idea. How much of a learning curve is there to use the machine?

    I was thinking about getting a third-party washer/dryer company in my apartment building as it’s one wish most of the tenants have asked for. I’m wondering how they split the income generated?

    • Eric D.

      They are real easy. After the first key or two, I have not made a bad one yet. My main tip, pit the key just slightly off of the ‘stop’ in the machine. That way, if the two key stops are not 100% alighted, the cutter will not be off. Just back off the template key 1/8″ or so, and the blank should be lined up with that template key, not flush against the stop.

        • Eric D.

          Exactly. I was spending quite a bit too, and having to go to a locksmith to cut “Do Not Duplicate” keys. And the locksmith was only open M-F, 8-5.

          I save money now, and can cut keys at 2 AM if I want.

  16. I like #13. We all know how often tenants fill out applications that show it’s only 1 or 2 people that will occupy the unit, but lo and behold you stop by to repair something in a few months and you have an extra person or 2 living there. If it’s mentioned up front (and in the lease agreement of course) at least you can charge for the extra person occupying the unit. Typically the more people living in a home, the more wear and tear you have to deal with when they move out. This is a good idea to cover some of those costs. Good thinking!

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