Five Fast Tips to Increase the Value of your Rental Property

Disappointed in the appearance of your rental? Think you can't afford the time and money it would take to fix it up? Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, there are five easy ways you can enhance any property no matter what kind of schedule or budget you're on.

#1: Paint!

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for any property and it doesn't have to be expensive. Close-out stores often have a limited selection of basic interior and exterior colors at drastically reduced prices.

No matter where you buy your paint, you can cut costs by selecting flat or semi-gloss finishes over high-gloss, as high-gloss typically requires more coats. Many color swatches indicate the number of coats required to achieve desired color, so pay attention to them and ask a clerk if you don't understand the code. Some specialty paints have built-in primer, which could save you money and time by skipping a step.

Daring to get creative can also save you time and money. Many stores offer a wide variety of products that help you create custom finishes at a fraction of the cost. Special rollers that apply two colors at once create a textured finish similar to sponge-painting but use far less paint than a traditional paint job. Choose two neutral colors just a couple shades apart, and one quick coat could be all you need.

#2: Kitchen & Bath

Often called the two most important rooms in the house, the kitchen and bathrooms in your rental property can make it or break it, so to speak. Again, close-out stores are excellent places to find linoleum squares or even hardwood flooring at up to 70% off retail price. These flooring options are often self-adhesive, and sometimes it is possible to install them right over an existing floor, saving tons of time.

As for the appliances, most of the time a good hard scrubbing will work wonders. But, if you find you must replace a refrigerator, tub, or sink, always check the scratch-and-dent departments, where brand new, fully functional items are sold at deep discounts due to slight damage. Don't forget second-hand appliance stores, either: many offer guarantees for up to 90 days, and developing good relations with such a business can save you money now and in the future (think maintenance and repair).

Are the cabinets ugly, but structurally sound? You can likely replace the doors and drawers for less than half the cost of installing a new unit. Check with custom cabinet shops before you hit the chains: they sometimes get stuck with doors or even entire units due to changed specs or employee error, and they may be willing to unload them very cheaply. And remember! Sometimes simply changing the handles is enough to do the trick!

#3: Windows

Tired of those Venetian blinds that are forever breaking and impossible to clean? Stained-glass appliqués provide privacy and come off just as easily as they go on. Window shades or curtains can be cheaper and easier to maintain than blinds, and as a landlord, keep in mind that not all tenants like their windows covered, especially if the rental is in a rural area. Why pay money for something your tenants are just going to take down?

If you must update your windows, consider installing storm windows over the existing ones instead. If you're handy, you can do-it-yourself just by screwing the tracks into the frames.

#4: Landscaping

For quick beautification of a bare property, plant impatients in late spring or mums in early fall. Pansies, lamb's ear and stonecrop can all survive a frost, while tall, tropical cannas grow to impressive heights in just one summer.

If long-term low maintenance landscaping is your goal, plant hostas and other bulbous plants like tulips and day lilies that are cheap and come back every year.

#5: Clean!

Maybe you don't need to replace that stove or paint that wall, after all. Sometimes, the cheapest and most dramatic improvement you can make on a rental property is simply cleaning it up. To tackle hard-core chores, research and invest in the right kind of cleaning product for each specific job. Pay attention to labels and follow instructions, and you may be amazed at what you find under that tarnish or grime. And many products guarantee your money back if they don't work, so really, you've got nothing to lose.

Landlords and tenants sometimes shy away from making simple improvements that can make any apartment seem like home sweet home. One final way to beautify a rental property is by communicating with your tenant or your landlord about potential improvements you would like to make. And tenants, always check with your landlord or your lease before doing anything.