November 13, 2017

By Emily Long

When you work as a landlord, either full time or part time, high vacancy and turnover rates cause dread, if not panic. You desire the opposite scenario—low vacancies and long-term tenants. The question, though, is how to consistently achieve the second scenario.

Rental agreements and responsive communications serve as part of the answer. The other portion rests in providing tenants with desired renovations and upgrades. These projects don’t benefit them alone—they profit you too. A home security system, for example, safeguards people and property. New, double-paned windows aid energy efficiency, a factor that could result in the ability to increase rent or decrease utility costs.

Many home renovations provide such advantages, but focus on these eight. They will produce higher levels of safety, security, energy efficiency, and tenant contentment.

1. Heating and Cooling Systems

To ensure peak performance of a heating and cooling system, perform two steps every year. First, hire a licensed technician to check the system. Many homeowners complete the task prior to the summer months, and their practice serves as a good model. Second, replace the HVAC filters at least once a year to ensure the highest levels of efficiency. If you allow pets at your rental property, you may need to replace the filters more often.

2. Smoke Detectors

Also regularly check smoke detectors since they are critical to rental safety. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that working smoke detectors were present in only 53% of home fires from 2009 to 2013. As such, take proactive steps to keep the devices in working order. Their batteries should be replaced once a year. To prevent the headache of remembering when the batteries were last changed, invest in a smart smoke detector. Several of these devices send alerts to your smartphone when it’s time to service them.

3. Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers also improve tenant safety and decrease the risk of fire damage. Most extinguishers come with warranties from four to six years, so make sure they remain in working order by checking for corrosion and adequate pressure whenever you visit your rental property. Also ask a professional fire protection company to inspect the extinguisher once a year—this step keeps you in compliance and guarantees the device will work in the event of a fire.

4. Security Systems

Besides investing in fire protection, also consider other safeguards, such as a security system. A security system affords all-around protection, which offers assurances to tenants and you. Modern security systems offer smart tech options and, depending on the setup, allow for remote monitoring and response. Security systems from trusted providers are maintained and repaired by the provider, but you’ll need to perform routine maintenance if you use a homemade system comprising cameras, motion sensors, and lights.

5. Motion-Sensing Exterior Lights

Automatic exterior lights aid your efforts to improve rental safety and make for a more aesthetic property. Nobody likes to come home to a pitch-black home, particularly if the property lacks a garage. You should guarantee your tenants’ safety and physical well-being with lights that respond to activity on the property. As with any lightbulb, you’ll need to replace the lights from time to time.

6. Smart Locks

Smart locks offer advantages, too, with some allowing you to create temporary mobile “keys.” Once the key expires, the tenant can no longer gain entry to the property. A smart lock will also notify you if a stranger tries to enter the premises, reducing your chances of theft, vandalism, and squatting. Some models, like the Kevo Smart Lock, take batteries, so you’ll need to replace the power source once a year.

7. Flooring

If you’ve taken care of the above items and renters still refuse to sign an agreement, it could be time to walk around your property and assess not only its age but also its curb appeal. Carpet tends to wrinkle tenants’ noses; they have no idea about who or what lived in the residence before they did. To ease that concern, think about replacing the carpet with hardwood flooring or tile.

8. Hardware and Appliances

Hardware, particularly kitchen cabinetry or plumbing fixtures, may also blacken your property’s eye. Get rid of it by replacing dated cabinets and ancient showerheads. Tenants accept that you won’t commit to a complete overhaul of the bathroom, but they’d prefer a shower without mineral deposits. Appliances produce a similar effect, so replace them as needed. If anything, it’ll help with energy efficiency and tenant satisfaction.

If you want to improve your rental property, prepare your rental checklist along with the eight items shared here, and you’ll see greater safety, security, energy efficiency, curb appeal, and interest from quality, long-term tenants.

Emily Long is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She writes about tech, home automation, and safety. When she’s not living out of a suitcase, you can find her practicing yoga, running Utah’s best trails, or attempting to perfect her coffee brewing skills.

If you liked this article, subscribe to Rentometer's email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in rental housing.