Written by Abbey Laan Trimboli
Whether you’re rejuvenating a property between tenants or getting ready for resale, it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Toni Schofield, Property Manager from Century 21 Tea Tree Gully, says the attitudes of landlords have changed over the years. “The old way of thinking was, ‘it’s just a rental, we won’t bother freshening it up’, but that is no longer the case. Tenants want a clean, neat and refreshed property.”
Robert Bezemer, from Bezemer Homes Inspections agrees. “Simple and smart changes will give prospective tenants or buyers that great first impression they’re looking for.”
Rejuvenating a rental property can mean an increase in the potential tenant’s pool, continued occupancy and possibly a greater rental return. If selling, you’ll most likely sell faster, and at a higher price.
1. Re-paint the Walls
A fresh coat of paint can work wonders, making the inside look clean and well-maintained. Keep the colours neutral for maximum appeal – let tenants or new owners imagine their own furniture in the space.
Toni’s Hot Tip: “If the property was painted five years ago and has been leased continuously until now, it’s time to repaint. If you’re going to clean the walls for the next tenant, take the opportunity to paint them.”
Use a light colour on window frames to encourage the eye outside. This will make the rooms feel bigger. Low-sheen paints are good for hiding wall imperfections, but are harder to keep clean. Choose the right finish for your requirements.
2. Improve Storage
Good storage space could be the deciding factor between your property and another. Tenants and buyers love in-built wardrobes, leading to less hassle when moving. They can do away with bulky furniture no longer required and don’t need to source storage solutions before moving in.
This is an addition well-worth your time and money. Quality built-ins can stand the test of time and are always put to good use.
3. Re-Dress the Windows
If you’ve ever rented, you’ve most likely come across the classic ‘rental property curtains’ – dull, out-dated and deteriorating.
Where possible, opt for neutral-coloured venetian blinds. A variety of materials (PVC, timber or aluminium) allows for budget-friendly options. Blinds will not only bring your property into the modern era, but they will be easier for tenants to maintain – how often do tenants remove curtains for cleaning?
Self-installation through ready-to-hang blinds can help keep the cost to a minimum.
4. Heating & Cooling
Adelaide’s climate is harsh and varied. Temperatures can be close to freezing in winter, and a scorching 40+ degree heatwave in summer. You want your tenant to be comfortable, not look for somewhere else to live at the end of the lease.
A simple split-system is generally a welcome sight for prospective tenants. Installation in main living areas is usually sufficient, especially in smaller properties with smaller floor plans. For larger properties, consider an additional system in the main bedroom.
Toni’s Hot Tip: Timing can matter. If your property has cooling only, try to avoid listing it as available during winter. “Recently a brand-new home took six weeks, and a decrease in rent, to occupy. This may have been due to no heating. Other properties with heating may have been favoured.”
It can work both ways. Tenants are sometimes prepared to pay more to have heating and cooling, allowing you to recoup your costs over time through a small rent increase.
5. Quick Kitchen Updates
Kitchen renovations are costly. Quick and easy updates can help brighten up a kitchen without the huge cost in time and money.
Repainting the cabinet doors and updating handles can revive a dark and outdated kitchen. In narrower spaces, consider removing upper cabinet doors altogether to create a greater feeling of openness by exposing shelving.
Robert advises that replacing tired taps is an excellent, low-cost way of creating an instantly noticeable improvement in both quality and design. If you’re paying a plumber, update taps in the bathroom and laundry for similar results.
Beautify the benchtop. These can suffer a lot of wear and tear over the years. “Replacements don’t have to be expensive and you’d be surprised at the impact,” Toni says.
Robert’s Hot Tip: “Updating areas of high use such as light switches and power points can really freshen the space,”
6. Clean, Clean, Clean!
Make everything sparkle. “Clean windows, carpets, curtains and blinds, polish floorboards, de-clutter, etc. Not only will your property look spotless, it will rid the home of any unwanted odours from cooking or pets,” Robert says.
7. Do Some DIY
Simple DIY jobs will show your property is well maintained. Robert Bezemer states, “Complete a thorough check of your property. Prospective tenants or buyers will appreciate the effort made in the finer details.”
- Cupboard doors and broken door knobs or handles
- Dripping taps
- Loose fencing
- Peeling wallpaper
- Replacing broken windowpanes
- Get a professional to help with replacing broken tiles, leaky gutters, and to make sure down pipes are connected to storm water drains.
8. Don’t Forget the Garden
Cutting lawns and trimming shrubs will make your front or backyard look neat and appealing. If selling, de-clutter any sheds and other outdoor storage areas.
Robert’s Hot Tip: “Small changes such as new numbers or fresh paint on your letterbox also make a noticeable difference. Repainting the front door is a great way to compliment a neat and tidy yard and give a good first impression.”
Remember! Every day your property remains untenanted or on the market, it’s costing you. Plan any contractors to work within a realistic, efficient timeline. Budget for the rental income lost while the property is untenanted, not just the renovation cost.
Hot tip! Welcome feedback from tenants on ideas for future renovations. Many renters are experienced, have lived in several properties and know what is attractive from a tenant’s point of view.
Toni Schofield encourages landlords to focus on the positives. “Rejuvenating your property may not always lead to a higher rental return but it can mean the difference between occupancy and vacancy. The most important thing is to avoid that gap. Minimise your losses. Look after your property and your tenants will look after your property too.”