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7 Ways you can Modernize an Older Rental Property

Imagine touring a rental property with green shag carpet, wood-paneled walls and a 1960s Frigidaire Flair oven. You probably wouldn't be super enthused — you might even bolt for the door. Odds are, if you feel this way about outdated spaces, so do your renters. 

If your property has any of the preceding elements or if it simply feels a bit dated, it's time to modernize your property. Doing so can attract more renters and even allow you to raise the rent.

1. Add New Paint 

If there's not much room in the budget for updates, a can of paint is your best friend. Coating the walls and doors or kitchen cabinets in a fresh color can brighten up and modernize any space. 

Plus, it's super affordable compared to building a second bathroom or renovating the kitchen. You can do this project yourself in a couple of hours, depending on how many walls and cabinets you plan on painting

2. Make Entryways Functional

Doors are the first things potential renters interact with when they come to take a tour. If the front entryway doesn't seem visibly stable, secure or updated, it may dissuade them from renting from you. Moreover, they'll be looking for other things on the inside that are worn, outdated or not functioning correctly. 

Replace the front door and add new locks and maybe even a keypad to make entry more accessible and simpler.

3. Upgrade Appliances

Everyone loves new appliances, and your future tenants are no exception. If your property still has an electric stove from the 1970s or a malfunctioning dishwasher, it's about time you updated them. 

Investing in fixing or replacing these items before your next renter moves in will show tenants you care and are committed to maintaining things within the home or apartment. Plus, it will make them more confident in your ability to quickly repair problems if they ever occur.

4. Update Lighting

Another relatively inexpensive way to update your rental property is to replace old lighting fixtures and add ones in rooms that may be a bit dim. This step is especially important if there aren't many windows to let natural light in.

This has the added benefit of creating a more energy-efficient property. LEDs are an easy way to reduce spending on utilities, offsetting some of the costs of living in an older home. Landlords who pay the utility bills will see a lasting impact on property expenditures. Otherwise, your tenants will appreciate the extra light and consideration for their electricity budget.

Don't forget to choose warm-toned bulbs for an aesthetic homey glow. You can also add some exterior lighting around the house or up the front walkway. These elements give potential renters a sense of safety and beautify the landscape at the same time.

5. Install New Flooring 

Wall-to-wall carpeting may have been trendy in the 1950s and 60s. Now, however, people want hardwood floors and less carpet, especially in kitchens, hallways, living and dining rooms. Many people also opt for hardwood floors in bedrooms, dressing them up with ornate and colorful rugs. 

If your flooring is from the 20th century, it's time to install some new material. Choose vinyl that looks like real wood or affordable laminate flooring to create a modern space that renters will love.

6. Add Storage or Shelving 

While it may not be reasonable to tear up a room and add a closet, you can still add storage space — even to the tiniest of rental spaces. Floating, open shelves are all the rage in kitchens right now, and they're easy to install. This trend is especially popular in rustic farmhouse kitchens. 

You can add storage to cabinets and drawers by inserting more shelves or organizers. This update maximizes space so that renters can easily store more things. It’s a quick fix that has lasting value for tenants interested in cooking and food storage even in a kitchen with a cramped layout.

For bedrooms, there’s also a renewed interest in Murphy beds, which can either be installed or bought as a freestanding unit. Your tenants can supply the mattress of their choice, but they may be convinced to stay around longer with bedrooms that offer flexible living options.

Urban apartments are only getting smaller, so tenants appreciate it when floorplans make the most of available space.

7. Clean It Up

Sometimes, all an old property needs is a bit of elbow grease. Before you show the property, roll up your sleeves and set out to find the shine under that layer of dirt and grime. Either hire a company or wipe down walls and other surfaces yourself. 

You'll be surprised at how much more open your property will feel after a good wipe and mop. A deep clean before showings and move-in day can freshen up an older space and help renters see its potential.  

Modernizing an Old Rental Property

Old properties can have historic charm, but tenants don’t want to contend with rusting appliances, outdated design and cramped spaces. Fortunately, these few tips can help landlords make the necessary changes without too much of a hassle.

When it comes to updating your rental property, you only want to invest in changes that'll actually add value. The return must offset the initial investment, so it's often best to steer clear of major overhauls like completely renovating a kitchen or bathroom or tearing down walls. 

Focus on the improvements that make the biggest impact on your renters’ quality of life. Even the oldest property can attract new tenants!

Holly Welles is a real estate writer and the editor of The Estate Update. She covers real estate investment, apartment living and personal finance for publications across the web.

*Contributions are solely guest opinions and don’t reflect the opinions of or are endorsed by WYL, our staff, clients or other interested parties.