Landlording & Rental Properties

12 Rental Property Improvements You Can Make for Under $500

Expertise: Commercial Real Estate, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing, Business Management, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary, Mortgages & Creative Financing
230 Articles Written

Need to upgrade a rental unit on budget? Here are 13 improvements landlords can make for under $500 each.

Want more articles like this?

Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up for free

12 Rental Property Improvements You Can Make for Under $500

1. Paint

You may not be able to paint a whole house for $500, but you can enhance key rooms and create accent walls. Trending colors this year may include grays, beiges, greens, and pinks.

2. Change Out Flooring

The same applies to flooring. In cheap rentals, you may be able to use vinyl or focus on small, key areas of flooring. Putting new flooring in small entry areas and bathrooms or replacing the carpet in that one ugly bedroom could make a big difference in renting quickly and for more money.

3. Patch the Roof

Roof leaks can cause major havoc with rentals. They can quickly deteriorate your asset, cause ballooning repair bills, add to the maintenance interaction burden with tenants, and can lead to damage of renter belongings, which you may be on the hook for. In many cases you don’t need a new roof, just patches.

10 Landscaping Tips for the Family-Friendly Home

4. Add Smart Home Tech

Add some trendy new tech to make renters feel great about their choice. That could be smart locks or smart thermostats, better wifi, or new Google Home devices.

5. Bring in a Bar

You may be able to expand countertops or bring in a standalone bar, which really adds to the excitement and emotional appeal of a place.

6. Resurface Cabinets

Replacing kitchen and bathroom cabinets can be expensive and a lot of work. Instead, look at options for resurfacing existing ones.

7. Add a Backsplash

Kitchen backsplashes can make a massive difference in the appeal and perceived value of a home.

8. Consider Flex Office Space

Working from home is fast becoming the new norm. Many remote workers soon find that working from the sofa isn’t as effective as they expected. You may not want to reduce bedroom counts by turning one into a home office. However, you may be able to create some flex space with a cabinet, pantry, or Murphy bed that enables quick changes between daily living space and the office.


9. Finish the Garage

Finished garage spaces add a big “wow” factor and more value. Even on a tight budget, you may be able to finish walls, add flooring, install storage, or put in office furniture.

10. Replace Hardware

Replacing front door and cabinet hardware can have one of the best returns of any home improvement.

11. Stage the Home

Staging can be powerful for marketing rentals. You can do this virtually for less than $500—or bring in some extra furniture or rented furniture temporarily.

12. Replace Appliances

Appliances are a big deal to renters. Replace microwaves or dishwashers that are broken, consider adding a washer-dryer, or lease new appliances as a staging move. You can choose whether or not to include the appliances for the duration of the lease.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]

Which of these would you consider implementing on your rental? What would you add to this list?

Let us know your thoughts with a comment.

Sterling is an multifamily investor specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling w...
Read more
    Manon Sheiman Rental Property Investor from Santa Maria, CA
    Replied about 2 years ago
    If you could add pull out shelves to at least two of the base cabinets, any tenant would be super grateful, and it makes the kitchen feel much higher grade. There is nothing so tormenting as the bottomless pit of a base cabinet. How much would that cost from Ikea, or could you install it yourself from Home Depot parts? And as I said already, I wouldn’t install usb outlets. An electrician is always more expensive than a simple usb extension cord. Not enough upside. Front loading washers, besides, do not clean as well, and thrash fabrics as if you had beat them on the rocks at the river. If space is at a premuim, a top loading washer/dryer combo that fit on top of each other works well.
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied 3 days ago
    Don't know what front-loader you are using that is causing problems. When we switched 15+ years ago we noticed a dramatic difference in the edges of garments NOT getting frayed (as well as much better spin, reducing dryer time significantly). Neither machine was cheap (a Maytag Neptune & a Samsung), but both keep up nicely with 6 adults (the Neptune was purchased used - the 1st version, which had design flaws which were fixed in later versions). They DO need to have the gasket cleaned/machine left open to air out
    Allie Schraeder from Pittston, PA
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    I disagree about using trendy paint. Not everyone likes a bright red accent wall just because it was on the cover of some magazine, and it adds another step to the tenant turnover process. I use standardized paints for all units bought in bulk. It may be boring, but it doesn’t turn anyone away either. If a good, established tenant wants another color on the wall, that’s something we can discuss. I’ve got some cheap things I do to make my units just a little bit nicer. I replace all light switches, outlets, and covers so they’re all matching and clean. It costs about $10-15 and an hour of work and gives me a chance to test everything. I replace almost all fixtures with LEDs bought in bulk. If a ceiling fan needs to be replaced, I get one with a remote. Any sticky or shaky door knobs get replaced. I’m still working these out, but I plan to do a little welcome basket for my next new tenants and something for the holidays for my existing tenants.
    Amanda Gant from Washington, DC
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    You can add in a new toilet. I like that one. Especially if it’s an old bathroom. The cheapest toilets of today ($100) look 1000 times better than the 1970s version thereof.
    PJ Muilenburg Rental Property Investor from Sapulpa, OK
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Only thing I would add is a security system. I put one of the basic simplisafe systems when I buy a house now; for about $160-200. As usual, some tenants never once set the alarm and others use it often and appreciate it. I feel it sets my houses apart in this particular area.
    Account Closed Rental Property Investor from Portland, OR
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    PJ, do you also pay the monthly $15 per system subscription fee?
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Good list! Some of the most effective fixes you can make (especially to a rental) are extremely cheap.
    Austin Montgomery Rental Property Investor from Enterprise, AL
    Replied about 1 year ago
    One thing I have found that makes a huge impact is changing out older yellowing outlets and light switches for new bright white ones. Both the actual plug and the cover. It takes a little bit of time to go through and reconnect the wires, but it makes a huge impact. You can do a whole house for around $50.