June 27, 2017

Your rental property is a living organism, and as such, requires as much attention as your tenants. As a landlord, you have minimal time to spend at each property (if you own more than one). Yet, regular upgrades around the home and yard keep it in good renting condition and can even attract a wider range of renters when empty.

To be most effective, use the following checklist to prepare for your upgrades. This will allow you to prioritize what needs to be done and be most efficient with your time.

Prioritize and Prep

The first box to check-off on your upgrade prep checklist is “What do I need to do and what do I want to do?” At any given time, there are likely dozens of potential projects, so it’s time to prioritize and then prep your supplies.

Start by considering what needs regularly “scheduled” maintenance? How’s the water heater? What about the washer and dryer? If these need maintenance, and you currently have tenants, you’ll need to consider how it will affect them and if you need to provide temporary assistance, like a porter potty for bathroom upgrades, for example.

Use this time as a chance to decide what you can do with tenants in the house and what will have to wait as well. A full kitchen remodel, for example, will need to wait unless you can afford to put tenants in a hotel room temporarily.

When determining what projects to add to your list, consider what tenants have asked for as well. Maybe now is a good time to finally re-do the carpeting in the living room—which can be done while tenants are in the home.

Finally, if you want to make changes but nothing needs to get done, consider these five cost-effective upgrade ideas that can help attract new tenants.

Research Cost Savings

With your projects picked out, it’s time to do the budget and consider where you can cut back and save money. Start with big-ticket items, like sinks or toilets, and make your way down the list to smaller items like paint, cabinet hardware and rugs:

“Coupons can save you money on every aspect of re-decorating and upgrading, from paint, flooring and tiles to bathroom cabinets and furniture. Make a list of the items you need to re-do your home, and spend an hour searching online. Check all major coupon sites and don't forget to look for manufacturer coupons as well,” says Marco Piu, General Manager Couponbox.com.

This will also help you prioritize projects. If you can’t afford the items you need for a living room renovation, perhaps you tackle a few areas in the kitchen this time around and save the living room for next year.

Clean and De-Clutter

You never want to start a home upgrade in a messy room or home because it’s only going to get messier. Too much clutter will make it hard to stay organized and be effective with your time. To avoid these issues, create a list of all the rooms or areas of your property that will be involved in the renovations and put them in order of messiness.

Divide the inside and outside into “zones,” and start with the least-cluttered space, according to How to Declutter Your Home Fast. This way, if you need help cleaning and organizing, you can bring in someone to do that while you work on the first few upgrades that require minimal cleaning prep.

Check With City or Town for Major Upgrades

Finally, make sure you’re home is cleared for any major upgrades in terms of zoning and permitting. Each state has different governing laws for this, and most require a building permit if you’re changing the square footage of the property, physically altering walls, converting a garage into a living area and more. If you don’t have the property permit, or make changes that your property isn’t zoned for, you will be fined, which can come at a hefty cost.

Before you run out to the local hardware store, prepare for your newest round of upgrades with this simple checklist. When you prioritize your ideas, prepare the home and supplies, and have the right permitting, you’ll spend less time and money while completing important projects.

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