If you are buying a new investment property or if you own an existing property and wonder why your rent isn’t higher, it is important to consider your potential tenants and your competition. As a landlord you want to maximize your investment and keep good tenants, but to do that you have to be competitive. If your property falls short of what tenants want and can find elsewhere, your return on investment will suffer. Here is a list of the top ten amenities tenants are looking for:
10. Low Maintenance Landscaping
With very few exceptions, your tenants will not enjoy mowing the lawn or weeding. Besides their general like or dislike of gardening, it is also quite possible that they will lack the knowledge of when and how to properly prune or trim the various plants/grasses/shrubs/trees a property may feature. This often leads to neglected/overgrown landscaping that doesn’t make anyone happy, least of all the landlord. In addition, if a rental property has landscaping that requires regular or significant watering, it can count against a property when a tenant is tallying up their potential utility bills.
The less maintenance a yard requires, the more appealing it will usually be to a tenant. Ways to achieve a low maintenance yard include planting drought-resistant plants that require little to no trimming, minimizing the number of plantings in general, and/or including the cost of a landscaping service in the rent.
9. Gas Heat
Electric heat is common among apartments, but in larger properties and houses, gas is the modern standard. If a large property has electric heat, tenants take notice. Not only does electric heat generally come with added cost in general, but tenants can be turned off by the idea of not knowing just how big the bill will be in the middle of winter when finances can already be tight due to seasonal work (like contractors) and holiday expenses.
Most tenants applying for a property will average two cars for the household. This number goes up if there will be multiple roommates. As new development continues with little emphasis on parking, properties with parking become more and more valuable. It doesn’t matter how many bedrooms a townhouse has – if it only has a one car garage and no street parking, it will be a major turn off to tenants. Not only does it make it difficult to manage a 2+ car household, it makes it frustrating when friends or family visit.
7. Two or More Bathrooms
If your property has two or more bedrooms, tenants are hoping for two or more bathrooms. They will make due with one, but they will expect to pay lower rent.
6. Desirable School District
While the rest of this list is generally ranked by hierarchy, school district is based on average. For some of the tenants, school district is everything. It is a firm #1 on their list. For others, school district is irrelevant. If you are purchasing a property and can buy in a desirable school district, it will be worth the investment. If you already own a property (especially one with 3 or more bedrooms) the school district you are in can impact your asking price. If you are in a desirable school district, you will benefit from higher rents and increased demand. If your property is in an undesirable school district, rents will be lower and demand lower unless there is a draw that appeals to a different demographic. An example of this would be close proximity to a college, a major employer, or a shopping/restaurant hotspot.
5. Dishwasher and Garbage Disposal
This can be a tough one in older or smaller properties that just don’t have the space, but dishwashers and garbage disposals are the modern standard for kitchens. Lack of a garbage disposal can be annoying to a tenant, but lack of a dishwasher can be a downright deal breaker. If your property doesn’t have one, especially in the suburbs, your rent will suffer.
4. Updated Colors and Fixtures
If tenants walk into a property and the wall colors (or wallpaper!) and/or fixtures are dated, it is an instant turnoff to tenants who are willing to pay full market value. Besides the decorative issues that people can be faced with, a property that hasn’t been updated gives an impression of a landlord that is not willing to spend money on their property which in turn leads the tenant to wonder if the landlord will be resistant to performing any necessary maintenance or repairs that might be necessary over time.
3. Washer/Dryer In Unit
If your property does not have a washer and dryer included, or even better, a washer/dryer hookup where the tenant can put their own, you are at a huge disadvantage. Laundromats are dropping like flies and are a huge inconvenience that tenants don’t want to deal with.
When tenants do an initial drive-by of a property, one thing that will encourage them to keep driving is if it looks like they or their property will not be safe. Things that contribute to this kind of feeling include:
- Significant disrepair of exterior
- Overgrown shrubbery and plants
- Restricted visibility
- Poor outdoor lighting
- Bars on doors and/or windows
- Evidence of forced entry or attempted forced entry
- Tall fences or other fencing that indicates a security problem
- No trespassing or other similar warning signs on the property or nearby
- An abundance of security system signs posted in the neighborhood
- Proximity to a high-traffic street or highway
- The area’s reputation
- General location
To improve the security and general safe feeling of a property, trim back large bushes, remedy any places where someone could hide unseen (especially near doors and windows), ensure adequate outdoor lighting, repair any damage from forced entry, and keep curb appeal in mind.
Tenants have stuff. Whether it is bicycles, furniture, tools, furniture from their last (bigger) house, holiday decorations, or Star Wars collections, tenants want a place for their things. If your property does not have a garage, an easily accessible basement, a large shed, or some other form of storage, the interest in the property and the rent it can command will suffer significantly.
Bonus Item: Cleanliness
Dirty/unclean properties are a huge turnoff to tenants. One of the best investments you can make is to use some elbow grease (either yours or someone else’s) to make that property sparkle. Especially in a situation where your property might not be on par with the competition in other areas, cleanliness can overcome a lot. My favorite example is what I call a “grandma’s house.” A grandma’s house is a place that might look like a 1950’s -60’s, or -70’s time capsule, but you feel comfortable there because it is so clean. One thing I highly recommend is cleaning the outside of the windows. When looking at a property on a drive-by, the windows might not typically draw one’s attention, but once they are cleaned, they jump out in a really good way. A way that says, “Look how clean I am! Come look inside!”
Image courtesy of pixabay.com.