Upgrade or Ugly? What Landlords Should Allow Renters to Change in the Property, and When to Say No
As a landlord, you have two major concerns: keeping your rental property occupied, and keeping it in good shape so it appeals to tenants. Tradewind Properties takes care of the first concern for you, so let’s focus on the second.
Each tenant will have ways to make your rental property feel like home to them, as they should. But as the landlord, what changes should you allow and when should you say no?
To put it simply, think about which changes will be either reversible when current renters move out, or a clear upgrade that will improve the value of the property.
For example, changes that will make tenants happy, but are reversible, could include:
- Changing the blinds.
- Swapping out light-switch covers.
- Painting the walls. This one can be a triumph or a disaster. It is best to either approve any colors the tenants are suggesting, or arrange a fee for the walls to be painted back to original upon them moving out.
- Replacing shower heads, specialty light bulbs, or other easy swaps.
- Light fixtures, although it is recommended that a licensed electrician be hired for this job.
- Custom built-ins for the closets.
- Any baby-proofing.
Generally-speaking, most major upgrades should come out of your wallet, as the owner of the property. But small changes to the rental can be the tenants’ choosing (and on their dime), and will help give them a say in how their living space feels. Assuming they gain your permission and that the upgrades improve the value of the property, consider giving a thumbs up to these:
- Replacing drawer pulls and other hardware.
- Deep cleaning the carpets, power spraying the deck, or other major cleaning endeavors.
- Painting walls or cabinets (see above).
- Installing shelving in the garage, mud room, laundry room, etc.
- Upgrading the kitchen sink to include a retractable kitchen faucet, an in-sink soap dispenser, or adding a garbage disposal.
- Bringing in their own appliances that they will leave behind (assuming they’re a step above what you currently have).
- Bathroom upgrades like towel rods, towel hooks, or a medicine cabinet.
- Installing ceiling fans (again, with the help of a professional).
- Planting herbs, bulbs or flowers in garden.
When to Say No
Sometimes what seems like a fabulous idea to some is either too permanent, too hazardous, or too ugly to allow in your rental property.
- Cut-outs for an A/C unit.
- Fire pits or other fire hazards.
- Basketball hoops installed on the exterior. Chances are good the next tenants might not be as keen on a game of hoops.
- Anything that diminishes the functionality or character of a place, such as painting over original brick, closing off a fireplace, or adding an awning which only keeps light from getting in the windows, etc.
- Changing the locks or security system. Unless you mutually agree to change the locks, and the landlord takes the lead, this is obviously a big no-no.
Please note that safety issues, repairs and major upgrades are part of a landlord’s responsibilities. The staff at Tradewind Properties can help you manage all of these, including emergency handyman visits for repairs.
Keep an open line of communication with your tenants, and be open to suggestions for how they can make your property feel like home. It’s beneficial to both parties if tenants and landlord are satisfied and in agreement.
If you have any questions about becoming a landlord, or renting out your property, Contact Tradewind Properties. We are here to help!
Hidden Costs of Homeownership
So, you’ve found the home of your dreams. You’re finally ready to stop renting and start building toward your future. And after crunching the numbers, you determine that the monthly mortgage payments fall within your affordable range. However – before you go signing on the dotted line – there are a number of hidden expenses that many first-time homebuyers tend to overlook:
1. Home Inspection
It’s always a wise decision to have your home inspected prior to purchasing it. After all, this is likely the largest investment of your life. Paying a professional several hundred dollars to assess the property may save you from a hundred-thousand-dollar disaster down the road.
An important part of the process in obtaining a home mortgage is to have the property appraised by a professional. Residential real estate appraisals typically cost around $350 to $400.
3. Closing Costs
Unless you’ve mastered the art of negotiating and have talked the seller into paying for your closing costs, you’re going to have to come to the closing table with some cash. Typical closing costs can be anywhere from 2% to 4% of the mortgage loan amount.
4. Property Taxes and Homeowners Insurance
The mortgage company will want to ensure that the home is insured and that the property taxes are being paid. So unless you plan on putting more than 20% down, your lender will likely require you to have your taxes and insurance escrowed, which will significantly add to the monthly mortgage payment.
5. Moving Expenses
Another cost to consider is the transportation of your belongings. Depending on the amount of stuff you have, the distance traveled, and the level of help needed, such expenses can run you anywhere from a couple bucks to several thousand dollars.
6. Snow Removal
In the great state Minnesota, we all know how unpredictable Mother Nature can be. Waking up to a foot of snow in your driveway is never a pleasant way to start the day. However, you still have to get to work. So unless you’ve got a shovel and a really strong back, you’ll either have to purchase a snow blower clear it yourself, or pay someone else to do it.
7. Lawn Care
Unless your home is part of an association, another cost to consider is lawn care. Whether you’re a DIY’er or you prefer to pay someone else to do your dirty work, it’s your responsibility to ensure your property is maintained (mowing the lawn, raking leaves, cleaning gutters, trimming trees, etc.).
8. HOA and Condo fees
If you purchase a home that’s part of a Homeowners Association, you won’t be saddled with snow removal or lawn care. However, the conveniences that come with living in a HOA development usually come at a pretty hefty price. You’re likely to spend another two-hundred dollars or more each month for these luxuries as part of your HOA dues.
If you’re purchasing a new-construction home, you likely won’t have a lot to worry about initially. But if the home is somewhat older, it’s always a good idea to set aside a cash reserve for maintenance and repairs, such as replacing an old appliance or repairing the furnace. These types of emergencies usually seem to happen at the most inopportune times. So, having a plan in place can save you from major headaches down the road.
Depending on where you live now, your monthly utility bills will likely be much higher when you move into your own home. You may also have to account for additional bills, such as City water and sewer, as well as garbage/trash collection.
Become a Landlord in Minnesota
Are You Ready to be a Landlord for a Minnesota Rental?
If you have a home in Minnesota and have recently moved, gotten married, or inherited another property, you have two options. You could either sell the property, though that can be difficult depending on the market, or you can rent out the property to tenants and become a landlord.
There are some questions you should ask yourself before you put out an ad for your home rental, however. Are you really ready to become a landlord?