Hardening your rentals while making them attractive??

2 Replies

Hello Everyone,

I am about to close on an 11 unit property which all the units will need to be rehabbed to bring them up to market rent. (currently almost in slumlord condition).

The question that I have is it possible to make your rentals "hardened" but at the same time make them feel like they above average rentals. I would love to hear anyone's input on materials (flooring, appliances, paint color, countertops other areas etc.) that have worked for you to achieve this. I am trying to get away from the basic tan paint color, brown vinyl flooring etc. to set them apart from other apartments in the area.

This property is in an upcoming area and I am trying to rehab them to a style that seems "luxury" but still are bulletproof and mid to low market materials. No expensive materials (granite etc.) as the rents won't justify the costs. 

Love to hear anyone's input. Thanks!

There are lots of threads on hardening rentals, but I understand the aesthetic vs. affordability struggle! Here are some solutions that I’ve been pleased with, but keep in mind that we are not in low-rent neighborhoods, so some of these may not apply...

- Allure vinyl plank floors work great throughout an entire property; we use them in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens...it’s water resistant, affordable, and tenants love it. We never use carpet, anywhere.

- When houses have hardwood floors throughout, we refinish those in a natural finish (just poly/no stain), and then do a groutable vinyl tile floor, or ceramic tile in the bathrooms.

- Use a grey or greige paint for an updated look. Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, Worldly Gray, and Collonade Gray are all good options. Pick your flooring first then pick the paint that looks best with it.

- When we have to replace tubs, we are doing a tile surround. This really makes the bathroom pop, and is affordable if you use a cheap field tile with an optional nicer accent tile. We avoid tiling any niches, as those collect grime, and we always use dark grout and small grout lines to minimize staining.

- We remove as many things with moving parts as possible (i.e. no ceiling fans, we don’t provide washer/dryer, provide dishwasher only when necessary for neighborhood, etc.). We also remove screen doors, as those seem to get abused easily.

- Laminate countertops are fine. Sometimes we have sourced used nicer materials from Craigslist or Habitat ReStore. For example, a prefab granite island slab, or soapstone or Corian that we can fabricate ourselves. It’s also easy in our area to find used granite vanity tops.

- We try to include a few “upgrades” that don’t cost much, but stick out in people’s minds. Some of my favorite features: adding a few updated light fixtures (like a chandelier above the stairs, or wall sconces on a feature wall), adding an accent wall, including some floating shelves, exposing brick where possible, etc. These are all affordable, but including just a couple of these upgrades can make the property feel customized.

- Don’t skimp on plumbing fixtures. We stick with the big name brands...seems like every time we try to go cheaper or purchase based on appearance instead of quality, that is the first thing that causes headaches...and leaky faucets are always a major headache!

Hopefully that gives you some ideas, and good luck with the project!

I agree with the Allure floors. If these are truly slumlord condition, just cleaning, new paint and floors will make a huge difference. We install the 2 inch faux wood blinds, curved shower curtain rods, white appliances (easy to match). New light fixtures are a relatively cheap DIY upgrade. Do the cleaning, floors and painting first. You may not need as much of a remodel as you think.

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