Landlords all want the same thing: low maintenance tenants who take care of the property and keep renewing their leases. Properly screening potential tenants and rewarding the good tenants are both great strategies for landlords hoping to find and keep excellent tenants. In addition to these, landlords should take a few extra steps to set the foundation of a great landlord-tenant relationship.
Here are a few ideas you can execute before your tenant moves in to keep them loving their rental home and paying rent longer. After all, keeping vacancies down is one of the keys to a successful investment property.
Make small upgrades to the kitchen
A few small upgrades to a rental kitchen can dramatically improve the aesthetics of the room without breaking the bank. Consider adding a neutral backsplash. Subway tiles are currently in style and can be very inexpensive. Pick a color that is very pale or white that corresponds to the other finishes in the room. Another upgrade that a renter would appreciate is a new countertop. Replace the old white tiled counter or a chipping laminate with a simple prefab countertop. It’s important to note that renters are much more concerned with the look and feel of the room than the quality of the materials.
Paint with colors other than dingy white
Most apartments are painted with one shade of white for every paintable surface (ceilings, walls, baseboards, doors). Your unit will feel more like a home for your tenants if you paint the walls another color. Grays are extremely popular neutrals right now. A few good go-to grays that stagers use frequently are Benjamin Moore’s Coventry Gray, Solitude, and Rockport Gray.
Another option is to offer to paint an accent wall for your tenant. Put together a few acceptable color options and let them pick something that will go well with their style and furniture. Giving your tenant the option to pick from a couple pre-approved colors will establish a connection to the home and create pride in ownership for your tenants.
Step up the window coverings
Plastic or aluminum window blinds are noisy, dusty, and ugly. There is a reason you don’t have them in your own house. Of course, it’s necessary (and mandatory depending on your state) to have window coverings in your rentals. Leave a tenant with an uncovered window and you might come back to find a flag or a piece of cardboard as drapes.
Upgrade to a happy medium between expensive plantation shutters and the average ones. Try a white faux wood mini blind.
Install working bathroom and kitchen fans
If the fan in your tenant’s bathroom is too loud or doesn’t work well, odds are they just won’t use it. The tenant won’t think twice about steaming up your property or the damage it may cause. So to keep the bathroom looking its best and to prevent getting tenant complaints about a moldy ceiling, install a fan that works well.
The same goes for ventilation above the cooktops.
Consider the laundry situation
Renters look for in-unit laundry machines. If it isn’t in your budget, consider installing hookups and allowing the tenant to buy or rent the machines. No matter how otherwise perfect an apartment is for a tenant, if they are still carrying their quarters and dirty laundry to a laundromat, they will be periodically checking listings for better apartments.
If a communal laundry room for the building is all you can provide, at least take the added step to make sure it is always spotless.
Hire a professional cleaner
Start your landlord-tenant relationship off the right way. The day before the tenant moves in, have a professional cleaning company give the whole unit a deep clean. The last thing a tenant wants to do after a long day of moving is to have to clean the tub before they feel comfortable showering. It will show them you respect them and the unit.
Last but not least, go the extra step and put together a little welcome basket for each new tenant. This creates a friendly connection between you and your tenant as well as encourages them to care for your unit. Some ideas for the contents of the welcome basket are:
- Things they will need their first few nights in the unit while unpacking. (A few rolls of toilet paper, bottles of water, a few snacks, etc.)
- Cleaning supplies. Especially if you have a material in your unit that requires a special cleaner, like a travertine or laminate flooring. Your tenant definitely will not spend $20 on a bottle of special cleaner so provide a few and save yourself replacement expenses in the future.
- A plunger. No explanation required.
- A quart of touch up paint and a brush. Things get smudged during move in.
- Spare keys. Anything that can prevent you from getting the dreaded lockout phone call in the middle of the night.
- A roll of quarters if the only option is coin operated laundry.
- Felt floor protectors. It’ll be the best $8.87 you’ll ever spend.
Try out a few of these ideas to start things off on a good foot with your new tenants. Make sure to report back on what worked the best for you!