When it comes to home buying, it's definitely a seller's market out there. But when it comes to renting, it's a different story.
With many renters transitioning into homeownership during the pandemic, and rental demand and prices dropping, especially in major cities, potential tenants are being courted with better-than-normal perks.
These perks include giving the first month free, giving an additional half-month free, offering flexible payment plans, replacing one-year leases with rolling month-to-month short-term agreements, and even discounting rents.
So landlords who want to attract quality tenants have to really up their A game. We'll review five simple items you can improve upon with your rental. They won't actually change the structure of your property, but they will help make it feel vastly different.
We'll also discuss if any of these alterations will have an impact on your rental property insurance.
#1 - Increase Security
Fostering the perfect landlord-tenant relationship can get off to a great start when both parties show they are responsible.
A great way for landlords to express their care for their property as well as the well-being of their tenants is by providing a safe environment. So adding an alarm system or another security feature is a cost-effective way to make tenants feel safe and secure on your property.
There are a lot of pluses to enhancing your building's security: In addition to making your tenants happier, it will also protect the value of your property, help you avoid liability, and improve your reputation.
#2 - Take Care of Repairs and Upgrades
If your property is in poor condition when you show it or when a tenant moves in, you're setting the expectation for how they should treat the property.
So take care of repairs before listing your property's availability. Also, keep an eye out for taking care of upgrades. For example, consider changing out kitchen and bathroom fixtures that are at least 10 years old, countertops and flooring that has discolored, and carpets that have seen better days.
When tenants see a well-maintained property, you'll see a big difference in their level of care and maintenance.
Plus, if you take care of minor repairs and upgrades, you'll save yourself money in the long run before a minor problem could turn into a major and costly disaster.
#3 - Update Amenities
One of the top items that renters want after affordability and quality of management is convenient in-unit amenities, according to the 2020 Apartment Resident Preferences Report from the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and Kingsley Associates.
You can make your property more valuable, multi-faceted, and modern with the following amenities, most of which don't call for changes to your property:
- Refrigerator: Most tenants don't want to deal with the expense of having to buy a refrigerator, so having one will increase your property's appeal. Other bonuses are that it can be deducted from your taxes, and an energy-efficient unit - as well as other energy-efficient appliances you buy - may also come with rebates.
- Garbage disposal: This is a fairly inexpensive addition that can also help you avoid costly plumbing repairs.
- Washer and dryer: Most tenants look for these appliances in their rental search; even if you only have a small space, you can install a stackable or compact unit.
- Dishwasher: This item is virtually a necessity, and you could get a compact for smaller kitchens.
- Microwave: This is a relatively low-cost item, especially a countertop unit.
- In-wall USB ports, smart thermostats, and TV wall mounts: These are inexpensive to add, and by installing them you can ensure they're installed correctly and don't have to worry about damage or injury when renters try to self-install.
#4 - Add a Fresh Coat of Paint
After you've taken care of the basics, it's time for an easy and affordable improvement that can make your property look and feel vastly different: repainting.
While it's recommended to keep paint colors neutral so the walls can be a blank canvas for a tenant's decor, there are a few liberties you can take to create changes in perception. For example, if you want to make a small room seem larger, opt for lighter colors. If you want to make a large space feel more comfortable, paint the ceiling a darker color.
And if you can't resist incorporating some splashes of color, there are ways you can add character and make your rental a little different. Add a fun color to cabinets or a decorative backsplash in the kitchen. Add tile or wallpaper to the bathroom. Play with textures within the neutral color palette.
In addition to a fresh coat of paint, keep that freshness theme going by having your property professionally cleaned. This will not only make your rental look and smell clean and fresh, but it will also be more inviting. And it will create a great impression upon tenants.
#5 - Increase Storage Options
Who isn't in need of more storage space? That's a particular challenge for renters, as rental properties aren't traditionally known for spacious closets, lots of shelving, and expansive storage options.
So providing any additional storage would be a boon. And you don't need to make drastic changes to do it.
For example, when my husband and I looked at a small, one-bedroom apartment in the four-unit house of a handyman landlord, I remarked on there only being one small wardrobe closet.
When we returned a few days later for a second look, the landlord had created a wardrobe space in a corner of one of the rooms by adding a partial wall, a clothing pole, shelving, and bifold doors. We signed the lease that day.
A landlord could also make the most of odd or unused spaces in the property by adding shelving or cabinets, especially in kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Also appealing to tenants is offering outside storage, such as adding a shed where tenants can store large or seasonal items like bikes or skis.
Rental Home Changes That Affect Insurance
Of the five items listed, increasing security is one of the five major types of discounts available for landlord insurance.
The preventative measures you can take to lower the risk of theft and damage and therefore lower your premium include adding burglar alarms, motion sensors, a gate, or a sprinkler system.
And taking care of repairs and updating appliances will save you on insurance in the long run. The better you stay on top of your property's upkeep and on replacing old appliances, the less likely you will have to file insurance claims, which can lead to higher rates.
Plus, if you file too many claims, your insurer may decide you're not worth the trouble and cancel your policy.
Landlord Insurance Discounts
While landlord insurance differs from regular homeowners insurance, you can still take advantage of four other types of savings on your rental property insurance, most of which are common insurance discounts:
Bundling discount: This is also known as the multi-policy discount. If you have two insurance policies with the same company, you will get a better deal on rates than if you insured with two separate companies.
And this isn't just for auto and home insurance, as you see advertised by many national insurers. You can also get a multi-policy discount on your landlord insurance by bundling it with your business insurance, or with multiple rentals. The savings can be up to 25%.
Claims-free discount: If you go without filing any claims for a specified time period, usually five years, your insurer will reward you for your clean record
Loyalty discount: You can be rewarded for staying with the same insurance company for a long time.
It's also possible you could be awarded for being a brand ambassador, getting a discount for referring friends and family to your insurance company.
Sometimes you only have to express interest to get a discount: Some insurers offer an early shopper discount, which means that you can receive a discount if you get a quote for landlord insurance before your existing policy with another provider expires.
Group discount: Being in the military, or a teacher or a government employee could save you on your landlord insurance. This is one of the least common discounts for this type of insurance, but it doesn't hurt to ask what professional or membership associations could garner a discount.
We hope these five items help make your rental unit stand out and bring in more income, while at the same time possibly saving you on your landlord insurance rate.
About The Author : Karen Condor is a home insurance expert who writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, TheTruthAboutInsurance.com. Having only recently purchased her first home, she is grateful for having several landlords who made changes to their property to provide a better rental experience.