5 Relatively Cheap Renovations to Lengthen Tenant Occupancy

Last Updated: December 30, 2014By

unnamedMost apartment owners want to increase their length of tenant occupancy. Not only does this limit the amount of resources you have to sink into cleaning, changing keys and paperwork related to tenant screening and landlord forms, low turnover increases an apartment complex’s chances of being a safe, neighborly place to live.

Unfortunately, while you can’t make tenants stay, you can offer them incentives to remain. Tenants who switch apartments but stay in the same general area often move because they’re looking for better amenities. This means that if you can provide these amenities, you stand a better chance of keeping your renters around. The next time your buildings are up for renovation (or even if they aren’t), consider these five simple and relatively inexpensive projects that will lengthen renter occupancy and make your life easier.

1. Install In-Home Laundry Units

No one likes having to haul bags or baskets of stinky laundry down to the Laundromat, especially when it’s hot, rainy, cold or otherwise dreary outside. Even heading down to the basement facility, while it’s better, can feel unpleasantly inconvenient.

Instead, give your tenants a reason to love their home by providing in-home washer and dryer units. Many apartments have an underused but convenient corner or closet in which to stick stacking or side-by-side units, and most major retailers offer smaller than normal appliances for apartments. Keep an eye on sales and talk to distributers about bulk purchases to maximize your dollar.

2. Increase Storage Space

When apartment owners hear “increase storage space,” they often imagine lengthy and expensive projects to build out closets or add basement lockers. While it’s great if you can do this for tenants, small additions also go a long way toward increasing available space in an apartment.

For instance, if you offer shelving in closets, bathrooms or pantries, extend it all the way up to the ceiling. Most items that stack on shelves aren’t three feet tall, so there’s no need for shelf space to end that far below the ceiling. You could also add TV connector cables above mantles or fireplaces. Since so many people have wall-mounted televisions these days, this low-cost move could really increase tenant satisfaction.

3. Put in A/C Units

Heaters are standard, but in areas where summer nights become unbearable, air conditioning units really should be as well. If your tenants have to depend on their own clunky, annoying window units to cool off during the muggy months, they might move on to cooler climes.

Prevent this by installing central air conditioning. To keep costs down, consider waiting until you need to install new heaters, then putting in combined heating and A/C units. Many places offer servicing with purchase, so ask the sales rep whether you’ll get free delivery and installation when you place an order.

4. Lay Down New Carpet

Everyone loves something shiny and new, and carpet tops that list. Carpet can be downright disgusting when it’s dirty and old, dingy no matter how many times you wash it, which can be a real tenant turnoff. On the other hand, new carpet lights up an apartment and makes it feel cozy.

If you consider installing new carpet in all your units, make sure you choose one with a low pile to minimize the buildup of dirt and grime. Berber carpet is a great choice for rental units, because the threads are pulled back down into the carpet itself instead of sticking up. While this isn’t as fluffy, it’s easier to keep it clean and remove stains.

5. Switch Out Your Appliances

If you’re still rocking pea-green Frigidaire products from the 1970s, it’s time to upgrade the kitchen appliances in your apartment units. Even if you’ve got a slightly newer array, you may still want to upgrade: “New appliances” is a real winner when it comes to rental advertisements.

If you can’t afford new, go with the ever-classy stainless steel, which with a brush-up can look like new. This idea, along with the ones above, will reduce turnover by helping create satisfied tenants who love their apartments and don’t want to move.

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At the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), our mission is to serve the interests of landlords, real estate brokers, property managers, real estate owners and apartment building owners nationally.  Visit www.AAOA.com for more information about membership details!


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