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Renovate Your Rental
Making Renting Attractive
Industry experts say people like Kaneko are more likely to stay in their rental properties longer if they are given the freedom to personalize. That's good for landlords and building owners because it's easier to keep a tenant than to have to look for a new one.
"Years ago, owners said, ‘No way! I'm not going to let you do that,’” says Lisa Trosien, the self-proclaimed "Apartment Expert" and consultant to the multifamily housing industry. "But the thing that they found is, on average, if you rent or customize your unit, tenants will stay for about 30 months."
And not all renters are transient. Some are so-called "lifestyle renters," who don't want to deal with the hassles of home ownership. Others are being forced to delay their dreams of home ownership because of economic concerns. In both cases, these are people who are planning to stay put and want to personalize their space.
Trosien has seen tenants add mirrored closet doors, change paint and wallpaper, bring in their own appliances, install new carpet or hardwood flooring, and change plumbing fixtures. Getting landlords to pay for these improvements is practically unheard of, she says. But in rental markets with high vacancy rates, where incentives such as "two months free rent" are used as lures, prospective tenants might be able to negotiate.
"If a would-be renter came to me and said, ‘I do not want the two months' rent. I want hardwood floors;’ as an owner, I would do that in a heartbeat, because that is going to enhance the value of my asset," Trosien says.
Some owners are seeing the cash benefit of allowing tenants to customize. At Avistele rental communities in Georgia and Florida, tenants are given the option of upgrading their home's appliances, flooring, and countertops as well as adding steam showers and surround-sound media rooms. Here, owners are capitalizing on the idea that just because you rent doesn't mean you can't live in the home of your dreams.
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