Hey there all you renters, landlords, property owners and property managers. This week we’ve got a special guest for you! Our friend and contributer Amanda has recently had her own experience getting a property ready for rent, and she’s back with more solid advice for any owners, property owners or property managers in a similar situation. Peep game:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. These are words that I live by, and words which every landlord should too. Preventing damage from occurring in the first place will always be cheaper than attempting to repair it after the fact. Of course, this doesn’t hold true for every item in a rental, so you need to know where to spend your money to get the most value for your investment.
Install the Right Electrical Fixtures
Electrical fixtures, from lights to wall plates, are easily damaged by careless renters. This is not the place to go with upscale, delicate items if you’re renting out. Consider instead tamper-resistant fixtures and materials that can hold up to both intentional and unintentional impact, and can save you from any electrical accidents in the future. Everything from lights to wall plates can be purchased with a “tamper-proof” security device. Go with lights that have metal reinforcement, wall plates that require special tools to remove and install, and switches made out of something other than brittle plastic. Though these items may cost a little more, they are likely to pay for themselves in terms of material and time spent on fixing damaged electrical items.
Good windows will save money in two ways. First, they lower utility bills. If you include utilities in the cost of your rental, which can make the property all the more appealing, then you want to save every penny you can and go with energy efficient styles. More important than utilities, however, is durability. While some windows will crack if you look at them wrong, others are tested to withstand the direct impact of a 2×4 traveling at 30 miles per hour. It would be hard for all but the most determined tenant to break the latter window. Given that a single window can cost upwards of $400, before installation, you want to avoid having to replace them at all costs. According to Nationwide Window, invest in and take proper care of vinyl windows for durability, low maintenance, and efficiency so that you don’t have to think about them again… ever.
Drywall is probably the most frequently damaged item in any apartment. Sometimes it is damaged by accident and sometimes it gets damaged on purpose by a disgruntled renter. You can use the cheapest drywall on the market if you think that drywall will be damaged no matter how much you invest, so you might as well spend as little as possible and expect to do extensive repairs. This means that drywall repair is perennially on your to-do list, which can sap energy from other projects. Or you can go with the drywall philosophy that argues that wall materials can be made to withstand more than most people think if invested in properly. For instance, 5/8″ drywall will hold up a whole lot better than ½” or ¼” drywall. If you really want a durable covering, go with plaster, which is as hard as a rock when done right and easier to patch if it does get damaged. It also has more finished appeal, that could attract a better clientele. At the very least, plaster should stand up to dozens of tenants for decades, with little more than a fresh coat of paint now and again.
When renting a unit, the first thing you need to think about is protecting your investment. Remember that not all damage is the result of intentional acts. In fact, most damage results from simple daily use. Floors, for instance, are a high-traffic item that can wear out quickly. Remember, there are two types of homes – shoes on or shoes off. Obviously carpeting shouldn’t be avoided if at all possible. Consider that solid products are much more durable than laminates and the cheaper items almost never hold up. Laminates may be cheap to install and look good for a few years, but they will quickly deteriorate, especially if your tenant doesn’t keep them clean. Cheap floor coverings generally won’t last through one tenant, let alone dozens. You don’t have to install the most expensive items on the market, but you should be willing to pay more for durability when it can mean a difference to your bottom line over the years. Simply put, rentals may seem like a place where going cheap makes sense, but going cheap means putting in a lot more ongoing maintenance rather than sitting back and letting your investment pay for itself. Spend upfront to avoid spending more down the line. Don’t forget that the cost of materials and maintenance goes up over time as well, so doing things right the first time around is almost always your best bet.
Thanks Amanda! Solid advice! Good luck with your rental remodel, though it sounds like you’re making sure you won’t need it. Let us know how everything goes!
Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Hit us up: Hometownrant@hometownrent.com