I love being a landlord (although the word ‘landlord’ is a bit medieval and I’m not a huge fan of the term).
I get a real buzz when I find a property that has been mistreated or in need of some TLC, purchase it for a song (because it is less desirable at the time than competing properties) and fix it up to make it the nicest rental in the neighborhood.
If you’re considering being a landlord, hopefully you have that same passion for property because you’ll need it.
Along the way in my years as a landlord I’ve learnt some very important, and low cost lessons in making sure you get top dollar rental income for your property or suite.
11 Tips to Increase Your Rental Property Income
1. Before showing your rental property to prospective tenants, have it professionally scrubbed so it shines! Either that or do it yourself, but be prepared to spend several hours scrubbing (that includes cleaning the walls, toilets, showers, kitchens, cupboards, nooks, cracks and crevices). Tenants want to feel like the suite is sterile and it is your job to make it look like no one has lived there before. Scrub baseboards, wax floors, paint trim (if need be), Windex your windows (inside and out). Prospective tenants are first and foremost looking at cleanliness.
2. When showing your suite, don’t set different appointment times for your prospective tenants. Take five days to let the calls come in after you place your ad and tell everyone to show up on the same day, at the same time. I can’t tell you how vital this is. As is the case with any product, when people see demand for something, they want it more. It is human nature. On more than one occasion I literally had bidding wars to lease my rental suites because I had 20 (or more) people show up at the same time to view the place.
3. Paint the door to the entrance of your suite if it isn’t looking perfect. First impressions matter. You want your prospective tenants to walk up to your suite with a great feeling about it being a potential home for them in the future. People make a judgment on everything within seconds. Make that entrance look fresh and welcoming. You’d be amazed at what a fresh coat of paint on the door can do for your entrance.
4. Make your appliances look as good as new. A trick I have learnt is that nothing makes old appliances shine better than some Windex (after cleaning them with a product like Fantastik). The shape and shininess of appliances can make or break a tenant paying top dollar for your suite. If the appliances in your rental property aren’t brand new, you need to make them look as close to brand new as you possibly can. I’m dead serious about this. Renters love new appliances; they are a huge draw. Get the Windex out and make that washer, dryer, stove, fridge and dishwasher shine!
5. Most rental properties have linoleum in them – at least in the kitchen and bathrooms. Make sure that if your linoleum is looking worn, you replace it. Don’t try and hide a crack in the linoleum or a big stain by putting a rug down. Linoleum is dirt cheap to replace, so there are no excuses. A shoddy looking floor will prevent you from getting top dollar for your suite and prevent you from getting a good tenant. Anyone willing to live in a place with stains or cracks in the floor won’t show any respect for your property anyway.
6. Have applications and pens on site. For obvious reasons, you want people filling out applications right away and on site so you can put a face to the name. When a lot of people show up for a viewing, it can be hard to remember individuals. The applications allow you to collect valuable employment information (if you subscribe to our free newsletter just email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to request the tenant application I use. If you’re not already a subscriber to our newsletter, what are you waiting for? I give away free stuff!).
7. Don’t show up to your viewings looking like you’re going to a baseball game. Take your role as the landlord seriously. That doesn’t mean you should show up in a suit (you don’t want to look like a stiff), but dress professionally so your prospective tenants will take you seriously. It all goes back to first impressions.
8. If you’re thinking about spending money on your rental property, don’t be wasteful, as improvements cut into your ROI. You want to spend money on things that will increase rental income. With that in mind, tenants focus on two key things in your suite first: appliances and washrooms… they want CLEAN and NEW (or new-looking). Unlike homeowners looking to buy a place, the kitchen isn’t the most important room for tenants. So if you are going to spend money on improving your suite, the first room to update is the washroom. Don’t go out and tile the entire washroom and put in high-end finishings; focus on modernizing and sterilizing. Tenants want a modern looking, bright and white washroom (dual flush toilets are a nice touch and appeal to our environmentally conscious population). After the washroom, spend the money on new appliances (stove, fridge and most importantly, washer and dryer). You’d be shocked how much new appliances can add to your monthly rent (a nice new washer and dryer can easily add $100 per month to your rental income – goes back to tenants liking clean). An old washer and dryer implies weathered and dirty and prevents you from getting top dollar. Another cheap improvement I recommend making is modernizing the light fixtures if need be. A big turn off for prospective tenants is old light fixtures that look like this:
9. Spend money to have you’re rental property ad promoted for a week on sites like Kajiji (extremely effective and very cheap to do). It’s important to keep your property relevant and at the top of ad sites. I just listed one of my rental properties two weeks ago, paid $17.95 to have it promoted on Kajiji for seven days and received 109 inquiries in the first 4 days.
10. If you have carpet in your suite, replace it wherever possible with laminate – this will save you a fortune long-term (won’t have to get carpet professionally cleaned every time a tenant moves out). Laminate keeps that new and clean look much longer than carpet. Over the long-term this switch will add hundreds of dollars annually to your ROI. And from my experience, tenants prefer laminate.
11. If you think your income property should rent for $1,100 per month, list it for $1,200 a week earlier than you normally would. If you only get a couple inquiries within the first 5 days, then go ahead and lower the price. How are you suppose to get top dollar without at least trying?
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