5 Simple Tips for Tenant-Proofing Your Rental Property

by | BiggerPockets.com

When you rent a property, it’s important to take actions to keep it in the best condition possible as it goes from tenant to tenant. You should offer a safe home for your tenants, so keeping it in good condition serves both of you. Tenant-proofing your home doesn’t have to be a long process full of hard work and loads of money. There are several easy and budget-friendly things you can do to improve your home and tenant-proof it for years to come.

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Choose Flooring Carefully

Do a little research and learn the best types of durable flooring for a rental property. You should also check your state’s laws about rental properties because some states require you to replace the carpet each time a tenant moves out.

You should avoid carpet if you can, but if you can’t, pick a darker color that won’t show dirt as easily. Avoid installing the carpet in bathrooms, kitchens, or entryways. If you have hardwood floors in your home, provide instructions for the tenant so they know how to take proper care of them.

Install Proper Insulation

A properly insulated house retains heat, keeping it comfortable throughout the seasons to provide a good experience for your tenants. Additionally, proper insulation will save your tenants money on heating and cooling costs, which will be an appealing feature that will help sell your home. Plus, you save money on heating and cooling costs as you keep the home running in between tenants.

Properly insulating your house before you have tenants reduces the chance of them trying to add insulation themselves and causing damage. It’s a quick job for a professional and doesn’t cost too much if you decide to do it yourself, so be sure to take the time and add this task to your checklist.

Related: How to Get the Best Possible Tenants into Your Rental Property

Remember the Little Things

When you are installing extra convenience features, such as towel bars and shelving, take the time to find a stud and attach the object to it properly using wall anchors and long screws as needed. Otherwise, they could fall off or get pulled from the wall after repeated use, which will likely leave holes in the walls.

Additionally, you may want to consider eliminating any pull chains from your light fixtures. It’s easy for the pull chains to be pulled straight out from the fixture or strip the switch inside, which causes a need for repair. Instead of a pull-chain light, use one with a wall switch.

Consider hanging blinds over the windows in the home before you allow a tenant move in. You can choose inexpensive mini blinds that are easy to hang. If you install them for the tenant, you avoid a situation where a tenant installs them incorrectly.

Don’t Waste Money on Beautiful Landscaping

Rental properties don’t require gorgeous yards and landscapes. They will indeed create curb appeal that will attract tenants, but you shouldn’t spend too much extra money on beautifying the yard. Many tenants neglect landscaping and yardwork, so you could be left with dead shrubbery and flowers.

Instead, choose a few shrubs that require no maintenance and focus on maintaining a nice yard of grass for your tenants. Write it into your lease that they are responsible for lawn maintenance.


Related: Landlords: Forget Being “Nice.” THIS is the Key to a Good Tenant Relationship.

Don’t Purchase the Cheapest Options

Some landlords go straight for the cheap builder’s stock for bathrooms and kitchens, but if you have the budget for it, you should opt for an upgrade. If you purchase medium-grade materials, you ensure they will last longer than their cheap counterparts and will provide you a good return on your investment.

If you are renting a home in a high-end neighborhood and want to appeal to high-end buyers, choose durable and high-end materials that will give you the most bang for your buck. Focus on the main features, such as the kitchen countertops and cabinets and the bathroom vanities.

These simple tips will help make your home ready for tenants and reduce future headaches and repairs costs. All of these improvements can make your home more appealing and may allow you to ask for a slightly higher rent than you could without these features, so keep that in mind as you plan your steps to making your home tenant-proof.

Any tips you’d add to this list?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Anum Yoon

Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of the millennial money blog, Current on Currency.


    • Rhonda Royer

      Absolutely! I even tell my tenants that IF they can’t keep up the curb appeal that I would be happy to have it done for them. So far no one has taken me up on that offer, but they know that curb appeal is important right from the start. I only rent out in good, well kept neighborhoods so it’s been an easy task thus far! I visit my tenants periodically & help out with the gardening in the spring to get things cleaned up. I’m sure this will change once I acquire more units.

    • tim boehm

      One of my tenants didn’t look after the yard, I explained that is one of the reasons I give low rent (about 30% below average in my area) so about two months ago after three warnings I tacked $100 addition to his rent after of course his 90 day notice that I would be doing so. Now he doesn’t have to mow the lawn or look after the garden. When my wife and I were renting we would have been so happy to save $100 a month and have a nice looking yard but today they would rather play on the computer than build a savings account.

  1. Scott Wang

    Paint the whole house the same color (preferably white) to make re-painting easy. Tenants can add their own “pops of color” through design elements and window treatments.

    Semi-gloss paint looks better and is more washable than flat.

  2. Rhonda Royer

    I made this mistake once. I allowed the tenants to choose their colors & paint. They went out & bought the most expensive paint/brushes/extras that they needed & painted in nice, but dark colors. Long story short, I will never do that again. Cost me three times as much, plus the next tenants wanted it brightened back up which meant more money spent to re-paint less than 2 years later. Now that it’s light, we’ll leave it that way. Although I did cave & allow the young daughter to paint one wall a different color because it was her time having her “own” room. Guess I still have a soft spot to work on 😉

    • On my very first property, I was taking my time making it perfect in every way, restoring an original 1959 house with terrazzo floors and plaster walls. A prospective tenant walked in a made a deal to rent the house when I finished the work. Not long after, he said he could not wait on my slow pace. He offered to finish the job of patching and paint out the walls and remaining woodwork.

      I agreed and he took over and I moved on. When I returned, he had painted every room with at least two colors on the walls and had done a very good job of painting. All new, and well selected furniture made the place look like a model home. He was a talented and well trained designer.

      He made the house his home and stayed for seven years until his work required a relocation.

      He was instrumental in forming my strategy. My investments are never referred to as “just a rental property”. If any worker makes that observation, I state my view immediately. We are not renovating a rental property, we are creating a home for some family. This has worked to attract the best tenants with the least problems. Surprisingly, this has also helped me to acquire other properties, as sellers prefer someone who will treat their tenants kindly, and respect and take care of their properties.

      Build a reputation of quality and service and caring and you will be sought out by the best tenants. That, in my opinion, is the most important part of the business.

      • Rob U.

        “That, in my opinion, is the most important part of the business.”

        Actually, that would be the 2nd most important part of the business. The most important part is “how much money am I making, is it worth my effort?” This isn’t a charity so the bottom line always comes first

  3. Courtney Sorrell

    Good tips! I think a lot of tenant-proofing comes into play when you’re first looking at a property. I tend to look for properties with few bells and whistles to break.
    I would add:
    key all doors that you can with the same key
    install pull down shades instead of mini blinds (the dust!)
    hardwoods, LVT or ceramic plank floors whenever possible
    same paint in all units

    • I install a commercial quality passage lever on the front door. That is a easy to open, non-locking latch.

      Then I install a dead-bolt above it.

      That system increases security, tenants use the deadbolt, instead of a latch to secure the door, and prevents tenants from locking their keys inside. With no key, they can not lock the door outside. This prevents late night calls for help or them breaking window screens and windows to force their way in.

  4. Marelyn Valdes

    I buy the locks that you can rekey yourself between tenants and key all the doors alike. I also pick up cheap “oopsie” paint (normally $25 for 5 gallons of high quality Sherwin Williams paint) at Lowes when I find it in light or pastel colors.

  5. Lee Carrell

    Excellent article that all Landlords must keep in mind!

    I try to keep each unit simple! Here are a few items that I do: 1) No fancy appliances or dainty fixtures that have small pieces that can be easily broken off. 2) Install taller toilets with a good amount of flushing power. 3) No garbage disposals. 4) Connect hanging fixtures to studs or joists. 5) Tenants are not allowed to repaint (they never paint it back like they say they will). 6) Hire a lawn service. 7) No remote control anything!

  6. Right about not doing much landscaping. I think one of my tenants must have used Round-Up on my heirloom roses, and every plant is a weed to them. They hate plants because they are are afraid snakes and spiders are under them. I used to mow their grass, but one complained if it was over an inch, and it was a hassle hauling a mower there. I reduced rent by $25 a mo., and let them do their own lawns. Now they are satisfied, but they complain about how quickly grass grows after rain, and are not so picky about height of their grass now. I’m close to discontinuing hauling their garbage, because they won’t bag, not keep lids on.

    I agree about no carpet. I am gradually removing mine. All it takes is a hot iron, or fingernail polish and stomped candy/gum, or mechanic’s grease to ruin it. Vinyl flooring and easily replaced area rugs have worked well for me, and tenants like easy to clean floors. Never dreamed there were laws to replace carpet between tenants some places. That would be very expensive. But I do rent a shampoo machine between tenants.

    • H.U.D. rules new carpet, new tenant. Truth is they dont leave, or complain no matter how bad the carpet gets. Post mortum , carpet replacement.
      Former Manager, Senior HUD , in Santa Barbara, Ca.

  7. Scott Wang

    Another thing we’ve been doing is installing the keyless touchpad locks in all the houses so the tenant doesn’t need a key at all; just a 4-digit code. When they move out, we just change the code. The batteries need to be replaced every few years but it’s not a big deal for never having to change locks.

        • Scott Wang

          If I ever have experiences like that – batteries dying really fast or no warnings before they die – I will certainly reconsider. I’ve had good luck with the Schlage brand so I’m sticking with them. Maybe your landlord used a cheaper brand or old batteries or something. 🙁 I love my keyless locks.

  8. Use wired in thermostats. This prevents tenants calling you to come over because the HVAC doesn’t work, when it may just be a bad battery. You know those batteries are made to only go bad on holidays, or weekends, or the middle of the night.

    To my dismay, my HVAC guy put in a fancy programmable thermostat with the last heat pump installation. I just replaced it with a wired simple non-programmable one. Now I won’t have to find the manual and drive out to attempt to teach tenants how to use them every time the seasons change. We’d get it set to what they wanted, then their kids would fiddle, and I’d have to come out again. Now it’s just up or down, on or off. Nice and simple.

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