Posted about 5 years ago

Easy Home Improvements that Increase Rent

Just as simple home improvements can increase the value of a home and hasten a sale, so can making the same improvements on a rental. There are several simple, low-cost improvements that can dramatically increase the appeal of an apartment and increase the rent. When tenants rent a quality unit that is well maintained and has incorporated modern features and current decorating trends, they tend to stay longer and are willing to pay a higher rent premium.

Before You Make Changes, Know Your Market

It is important to understand your rental market before you decide to make any improvements. Your property manager, appraiser or real estate agent can help you to determine the market rent for your unit “As Is” and the rent after the improvements are made. Just as homes have a range of value, so rentals will have a market rent range. If your current rental rate is at the lower end of that range, making some improvements can increase your rent to the top of the range.

In addition to raising the unit’s rent, improvements can attract another class of renters. Renters that are willing to pay for higher quality units often take better care of the apartments or houses that they rent. If a unit has features similar to a home, they may be content to stay longer as well. Both of these benefits will reduce your turn over costs.

Changes that Increase Rent

There are few changes that can more dramatically change the appearance of a property than new flooring. Ratty old stained carpets are a real turn off for tenants. If your rentals are showing their age, consider a long-term solution. Rather than simply installing new carpet again and perpetuating the problem, consider an easier to clean and more durable solution.

Normal 1443203000 Flooring Before And After

Do you live in an area that uses tile flooring in the main living areas? Do you have access to inexpensive hardwood flooring? How about considering a nice wood laminate? Each of these solutions look more expensive than simple carpeting. They are easier to clean and last longer. It is an investment that reduces your capital expenses in the long-term, increases the appeal of the unit and deserves a rent premium. Plus, the tenants will have an opportunity to express their individuality through throw rugs.

Unfortunately, new flooring is not a low cost improvement. But there are other remodeling choices that cost less. Consider modernizing the kitchen. Rather than replacing the cabinets, consider just replacing the cabinet doors or even just the hardware. Upgrading the old dated knobs to a brushed nickel or silver costs very little but changes the feel of the kitchen dramatically.

New faucets create a similar affect both in the kitchen and the bath. If your rentals are showing their age, are covered in lime deposits or are tarnished beyond improvement, consider investing in some new faucets, towel rods and drawer pulls.

Another option is to upgrade the trim. Do-it-yourself hardware stores are offer a large selection of molded baseboard trim made of eco-friendly wood composites (MDF) and polystyrene molded and pre-primed trim. Rather than replacing the 3” trim, upgrade to a 5” baseboard. It creates a more modern upscale look. Another option is to upgrade the door casings. Great designs can be created with simple 1 x 4 pine and high gloss white paint as seen in this example. With the easy to install rosettes, you will not even need to make mitered cuts.

Normal 1443203198 Trim Upgrade Before And After

Another low cost option with high returns is to invest in new lighting. Scrap the florescent tubes in favor or more modern choices such as LED spot lighting and pendants. Ceiling fans with built-in lights can reduce heating and cooling costs in addition to creating appeal.

Sometimes the repairs can cost next to nothing. Grab a tube of caulk and a jar of wood putty and fix the dings, nicks, dents and scratches that come from multiple renters. Caulk wood joints and then cover in a durable high gloss paint. Not only will the high gloss look richer but it is easier to keep clean. Replace the bathroom caulk with a high quality silicone. This small repair will be noticed by a quality tenant and it will help keep water from seeping into cracks and crevices.

These do-it-yourself improvements can alter the feel of a rental unit and greatly improve the overall appearance justifying a higher rental rate. Higher rent plus long-term quality tenants is a win-win for all landlords.

Comments (4)

  1. Great post! As someone looking to house hack their first home. These are definitely some  value add cosmetic repairs I will keep an eye out for. The trim and outdated knobs are things I hadn't considered before.

  2. Great input, its the little things like this that can save lots in the long haul!

    Thanks for posting!

  3. "If your rentals are showing their age, are covered in lime deposits or are tarnished beyond improvement, consider investing in some new faucets, towel rods and drawer pulls."   

    This comment suggests repair, not renovation.  Besides, most "improvements" only raise the rent to fair market rate, while lack of these improvements imply less than market rent.

    "Higher rent plus long-term quality tenants is a win-win for all landlords."  The term Win-win implies mutually appreciated benefits for both parties in the transaction.  That would be the landlord and the tenant.  I suppose you could consider fixtures that are not covered in lime-deposits or tarnished beyond improvement as a "benefit" to the tenant.  However, most tenants would consider such an improvement to be merely bringing the unit from sub-standard to standard condition.


  4. Great advice Ralph. I am closing on two additional rentals this coming month and the window trims will really make that property pop!