*NOTE – This article was originally written in September of 2006 for the newsletter.
There are many variables that affect your rents. Of these, the following are the three you have the most control over:
In this capacity, most of you have an advantage over landlords in other areas of the city. The programs that the Southwest Garden Property Owners Association have in place are virtually unheard of in other neighborhoods. Using this resource as well as yard signs, Craigslist and other creative techniques you can get the word out.
Fast and prompt management service. If you take a week to fix a leaky pipe, your tenants will probably be unhappy. Be honest and provide timely service. Additionally, you should consider arranging a 24hr emergency service for those times when real emergencies strike in the middle of the night. Tenants will often remember good service, but they never forget being treated poorly.
There is no secret formula to improving your units. To provide quality housing, the question to ask is “Would I live here?” If the answer is no, then prospective tenants would likely feel the same way. While there are many things you can do to change this, here are a few timely and cost effective choices:
- Paint – Whenever you have a vacancy, take advantage of the opportunity to at freshen up your units. A good scrubbing and a little paint can do wonders. When choosing colors, stay away from white. A tint of yellow or beige can liven up a unit for the same price as white. Don’t be shy about using multiply colors.
- Flooring – You should also take advantage of a unit’s inherent charm. If you have hardwood floors under your carpets, refinish them. Even a total refinish is often cheaper than putting down new flooring. Instead of vinyl flooring in kitchens or baths, use ceramic tile. Even cheap tile is much more attractive and durable than any substitute. Like hardwoods, this will not only improve your rents, but decrease future expenses.
- Light Fixtures – Many landlords confuse antique with old. If your light fixtures are dirty, broken, or provide poor lighting then you should replace them. Most home improvement stores carry replacement fixtures costing as little as $10 a piece that will prove perfectly adequate.
- Curb Appeal – Don’t forget to address the property’s curb appeal. Many landlords only address the interior of their units, ignoring the outside. Nothing is a bigger turn-off to a prospective tenant than a poor first impression. A little trim paint and a few flowers can go a long way