Landlording & Rental Properties

3 Renovation Tips to Make Property Management Easier [Video!]

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Landlording & Rental Properties, Business Management, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Commercial Real Estate
161 Articles Written

Hey there, BP! When renovating a rental property, managing costs and getting it done quickly should be at the top of your list. But don’t forget about your costs in maintaining the property long term once it’s a rental! In today’s video, I talk about ways you can smartly renovate your rental with the goal of keeping property management easy and affordable.

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Related: Rental Renovations: Which Maximize Rates & Lower Vacancy – and Which Don’t?

1. Paint

The first example we’ll look at is the paint (and paint colors) you’re using in your rental properties. Instead of using a different color for each property that you manage, always use the same color. This way when a tenant moves out, or you need to go in and touch up the walls, you’re not left wondering, “What color did I use for that unit?”; “Where did I store the paint cans for that unit?” By implementing this system, you’ll never have to wonder what color, or where it’s at. It’ll all be the same, no matter which of your units needs attention.

2. Locks

The next item that we'll look at is your locking systems. Every time a tenant moves out, you need to change the locks for security and safety. Changing locks can be expensive if you are using a locksmith, and you'll end up with the telltale sign a landlord: a huge wad of keys! There are technologies out there that help keep this cost at a minimum, but you need to address it during the renovation phase to get the best bang for your buck. We use a great technology that allows us to change out the core of the lock without changing the whole assembly. We also have one master key to open up everything in our portfolio. Watch the video to learn more!

Related: 12 Rental Property Improvements You Can Make for Under $500

3. Flooring

The last tip is to have durable flooring. This means selecting a material like hardwood or vinyl tile and avoiding materials like carpet. You want to have floors that will be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear. Giving your floors treatments like polyurethane will help them last over the longer term. If you decide to put in carpet, keep it to the bedrooms.

The goal is to make it simple and repeatable. By making these small adjustments, you’ll be able to save money and time over the lifetime of the unit. In addition to systematizing your process, you make it easier when it’s time to turn over the unit from one tenant to another.

Check out the video to learn more!

For those of you who have completed renovations on rentals and have some tips to keep long-term costs down, share them in the comments section! 

Matt Faircloth, co-founder and president of the DeRosa Group, is a seasoned real estate investor. The DeRosa Group, based in historic Trenton, New Jersey, i...
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    Ahmed Hamza Investor from Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Excellent!
    Matt Faircloth Rental Property Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks!!
    Wilson Churchill from Madison Heights, Michigan
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Flooring is the big one. There is only one house where I allow pets. I installed cheap ceramic tile throughout, and the walls are all wood paneling. Any clean-out will be as simple as bleaching everything and spraying the walls with paint.
    Matt Faircloth Rental Property Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hey Wilson, Since we switched to Lamanite Vinyl Tile we do allow pets but charge a non refundable pet fee and monthly pet rent. We don’t allow them in carpeted units though. Matt
    Joshua B. from Irvine, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great tips, particularly given the tenant a small touch can of paint. In terms of flooring have you ever experimented with bamboo flooring? The cost is reasonable and the hardness rating far exceeds that of oak and maple.
    Matt Faircloth Rental Property Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hey Joshua, We have done Bamboo on flips but didn’t try it on rentals. I found that we can achieve the durability we want with a lower per square foot price with a laminate product though. Matt
    Joshua B. from Irvine, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks
    Kurt
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Wood laminate floors are very susceptible to water damage. Even a small amount of water if not cleaned off immediately will cause them to warp. You can\’t assume your tenants will be careful about this. I would look at other options.
    Brian Grant Rental Property Investor from Lake Arrowhead, CA
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great article, I had not even thought about locks.
    Matt Faircloth Rental Property Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks, glad you got a new idea!
    Jerry W. Investor from Thermopolis, Wyoming
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I started using combination locks on my rentals. The advantage is that they are programmable and so I can change them after each tenant. I let the tenant pick the code numbers they want, and I can program a master code for myself in the lock as well. I write their code on their lease in my file. I do use the same paint for most of my rentals, but have begun using a new paint that is much cheaper than my old one, so I do have 2 main paint colors now.
    Matt Faircloth Rental Property Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hey Jerry, I love that combo lock idea, I haven’t seen them priced reasonably though, where do you get them and how much are you paying a door? Matt
    Marina Spor Investor from Buena Park, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I use Kwikset locks that are rekeyable with a different key. These are available at Home Depot. Easy to rekey.
    CAROL DAVIS Investor from Palm Springs, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thank you for the great tips. The tip about the locks will be such a help to my business!!
    Matt Faircloth Rental Property Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    You are welcome, Carol!
    Brent Kostner from Roseburg, Oregon
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks so much for posting this. Ive been painting with the least expensive paint I could find, like mistinted stuff at home depot, but when a tenant leaves and we don’t know the color, it means repainting. Love systematizing it! And thanks for introducing me to landlord locks! I really appreciate you taking the time to give away your knowledge.
    Matt Faircloth Rental Property Investor from Trenton, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    You got it Brent! We used to use the paint on the discount rack too, FYI. We had the same problem – every time a tenant moved out, we needed to repaint the entire unit.
    Marina Spor Investor from Buena Park, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    What do you recommend for stairs? It’s really expensive to install wood laminate flooring on stairs and may be more slippery. Carpet doesn’t last on stairs due to the high traffic.
    Terri Dyer from Gering, Nebraska
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I learned the hard way about the paint. I use to let tenant’s paint and I would pick out just the right color for each room in the house. Wow, what a lot of work. Once we got to 5 rentals I realized that was not a good use of time or money and things needed to be simplified! Another idea on the door locks is to do the programmable key pad locks. Then you just change the code each time you get a new tenant. But I do like your idea about having 1 universal key for all your units. Another way to simplify and cut costs is to install curtains. I don’t just like leaving it up to the tenant because then you get nail holes everywhere, blanket, and aluminum foil curtains. But mini blinds are always getting broken and a pain to clean! So we install a cheap/simple rod and cheap light blocking curtains. That way when a tenant moves out all you have to do is throw the curtains in the wash if they are dirty and you are done!
    Stu Basham from Jersey City, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Nice idea about the curtains Terri. I will have to try that with our first rental!
    Jerome Kaidor Investor from Hayward, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Some years ago, I had a carpeted common-use staircase in the front hallway of my building. The carpet had deteriorated to the point of being a trip hazard. I wound up stripping it, removing all the treads and risers, and installing new oak ones. Came out nice. That was 10 years ago, and the oak has aged gracefully. I did it myself. Hauled my nice Bosch miter saw out there, got special drill bits to countersink the oak. Finishing it was a challenge. I needed to put multiple coats of stain and sealer. And I needed to guarantee that tenants would not walk on it. In spite of caution tape, they had already walked on the bare wood. So I built a temporary wall at each end of the stairway.
    John Moon from Palpark, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks for the great times! When you’re using the smartkey deadbolt, do you also use the smart doorknob or is it just a handle?
    John Moon from Palpark, NJ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    lol i meant great article.
    Shawn Johnson Property Manager from Farmington, NM
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great article Matt! I’ll add a couple more from my experiences. Replace thermostats to user friendly ones. I hate getting the call that the furnace won’t turn on only to find they don’t know how to use the thermostat. Next, removing garbage disposals. My company manages a lot of homes and we get the request regularly that the disposal is clogged. Over use or misunderstanding on how to use it is the most common cause of failure.
    Kelly Arthur from Scotch Plains, New Jersey
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks Matt!!! You always provide great tips and valuable information. I going to look into that landlord lock. Makes a lot of sense. Keep the great content coming!!!!
    Marc Silsbe Investor from Ottawa, Ontario
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Here’s my tip, I use the same color as suggested (Benjamin Moore Decorator White). I use Home Depot paint and color match it to save money, but I also paint the baseboards and trim the same color. I have a decorator friend that gave me that tip.