General Landlording & Rental Properties

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Chuck B.
  • Investor
  • Louisville, KY
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How do you "harden" your rentals?

Chuck B.
  • Investor
  • Louisville, KY
Posted Oct 7 2011, 07:40

Dear Pocketers,

How do you harden / bullet-proof your rentals?

While I've never had anyone utterly trash a rental of mine, I've seen the damage they can do first hand (typically when buying the rental and seeing what the previous occupants did to it). Here are a few of the things I do:

One of my favorites, and easiest to do, is that I "frame" all wire racks, their support rods, towel holders, toilet paper holders, etc. using backer wood that is mounted to studs. If it's very visible, we'll route the edges and paint it like trim. If it's in a closet, it just gets wall color. This way, if the kids hang off the coat racks or someone abuses the towel holders, they may yank the hardware down, but it doesn't leave holes in the wall. It's also much harder to destroy them in the first place. Note the towel holder mounting:

When first buying a property, if it's easily accessible, I'll replace copper with Pex (plastic) plumbing from the get go, even if the copper is OK. I don't have to worry about it freezing and it's not a crime target.

We cage all of our A/C units now using custom fabricated 2 inch square tube, typically mounting them into the wall so the bolts have to be released from inside. I also lock exterior A/C circuit boxes and label the units, cage and circuit box with A/C specific alarm stickers that I had made up.

I will frequently install an inexpensive alarm system (not monitored) which gives me peace of mind between tenants and acts as a selling point when showing the units.

I've doubled up on door stops (to prevent doorknobs from going into walls). While I use the standard springy ones that mount into baseboard still, they tend to be targets for kids and end up missing, so I back these up with the plastic circles that affix to the wall where the handle would hit. (These are also great for just covering a previously made hole where the door knob hit the wall) They're expensive though, so I've started buying large, bulk packages of plastic, foam-backed pads that you set furniture on, and simply using double sided tape behind these. These cost maybe 30 cents apiece where the purpose built ones cost $3 apiece.

If I have to renovate a bathroom, I no longer use the plastic/fiberglass shower inserts. I've seen people put holes into both the tubs and crack the walls of these. For just a couple hundred more I'll have an iron tub installed and we'll tile the shower. It's a lot more attractive and seems to be a lot more durable in the long run.

What tricks have you learned to "harden" your own rentals?

Best,
- Chuck

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