We are a DIY culture, therefore, landlords are not necessarily unknown people who seem intimidating. Landlords are more than likely a next door neighbor...or maybe even you. My husband and I are landlords. Our goal is to make our rental property a place where people really want to live. Here are some budget friendly updates that, in our experience, have renter appeal. If you do only one or all of these things your rental has serious potential to be "renter friendly" for the longhaul.
1. Paint the entire house the same neutral color. People know rentals are not their property, but you will keep renters longer if they can make the rental look like their home. Neutral painted walls are like a blank canvas. In our rentals I always go inbetween and choose a light almost white grey paint.
My go White-Grey colors are
- Benjamin Moore Horizon (works well with white or wood trim)
- Benjamin Moore Grey Owl mixed with a little more white (25% more white) - (works with white or wood trim)
- Sherwin Williams Eider White (best with white trim)
My go to Light Grey Colors:
- Benjamin Moore Grey Owl (good with white or wood trim)
- Sherwin Williams Repose Grey (can look beige with wood trim so best with white trim.
- Benjamin Moore Moonshine (great with wood or white trim)
2. White cabinets in bathroom and kitchens. Again, the goal is to create a "clean slate" fresh canvas for a renter. The above kitchen does not have show stopper tile or elements but it is clean and nice...and the renter has made it stylish. Painted cabinets are an inexpensive DIY, but I suggest taking the time to do it well. If you have to add new cabinets, all the big box stores have stock white versions these days.
3. Change or add cabinet hardware. If you can't change the cabinets, add or update hardware. This can be the world of difference. The above bathroom isn't completely updated but the new knobs give it a fresh start.
4. Keep appliances in excellent condition. You don't have to get top of the line appliances. You don't have to buy stainless. The appliances don't even have to be brand spankin' new, but it will mean the world to your renters to have something well kept and usuable. Keep an eye on your rental's appliances. If they are starting to consistantly act old (you know...the repairman has the address to your rental memorized), and if they start to look more than 15 years old... then switch them out. Simply communicate to your renter about an upcoming update. For example: "give me a few months to find a good deal, but our goal is to replace that range for you." I promise their excitment will give you grace as you search for that deal.
5. Install White Fans. Renters, for the most part, are looking for lower bills and comfort more than statement light fixtures. This does not mean they want an eyesore. I always buy white fan fixtures that can blend into the ceiling and seem to go away. White fans are function and comfort without the eyesore.
6. Update or clean tile grout in bathroom. Of course updated bathroom floors would be nice but one simple "breath of fresh air" to a renter are clean floors. Reality check landlords...no matter how much you mop, floors don't look clean when the grout is dingy. This is true for old or new floors. An old floor can look nicer with refreshed grout. The above bathroom is a little dated, but the grout is clean giving the bathroom new life. Get some bleach and make that grout look bright and clean. Or, if the grout is uncleanable, refresh it. Younghouse love completely refinished their dingy grout in this post.
7. Install white or neutral classic tile. If you do have to install tile pick something white or neutral. I walk into "flipped homes" or rentals and just don't understand why people install expensive trendy tile when subway tile is so cheap and so timeless. I have never met a person who didn't like it. For floors, any neutral tile like this one, or wood-look like this one is clean and inexpensive.
8. Consider Laminate or Higher End Vinyl Wood-Look Planks. If you are doing a flooring update seriously consider laminate wood floors or higher end vinyl "wood look" planks. Laminate wood is looking good these days. Higher end vinyl wood-look planks are good looking, really affordable, durable, and easily DIYable. Both options are more scratch resistant and less expensive than hardwood. Most importantly, they are cleaner than carpet. Yes, you will spend more upfront than carpet, but I have found in the long run you can save more money. How? You now simply do not have to call a carpet cleaner to steam clean the carpets between renters. You will also have to replace it less often.
9. Update Light Fixtures. Updated light fixtures make a dated space different. My challenge to you landlords is to pass up the "cheapest" light fixture and see what you can get for $10-15 more at your big box stores. The above light fixture is one of my go to rental lighting choices. This fixture from Lowes is classic and only $79 ( even less if you use a coupon). Another stylish options is installing this pendant kit and drum shade combo for less than $50.
10. Install a-low flow shower head. This is not an expensive fix at all and it benefits you and your renters. A low flow shower head conserves water and it makes hot water last longer. This update can lengthen the life of your hot water heater. Your renters now can have more than one person enjoying a hot shower in the morning, and also helps keep their utility bills lower. Win win right?
This low flow shower head from Amazon is less than $10 and gets great reviews!
I hope these ideas can help you if you are a landlord or thinking of becoming one. It also can help you renters subtly make suggestions to your landlords!