When landlords compare their rental properties to others on the market, it can be hard not to compare sizes and feel a little downtrodden when you see your competition. Bungalows, one-bedroom and studio apartments, even those in great areas, can look dark and tiny if landlords don't take advantage of a few interior design tricks.
Want to make the most out of your small rental property? Here's how to maximize space — and value — without overcrowding your rental space.
Install wall hooks by the door
Most tenants rely on some type of coat closet to pack away their winter coats and rain boots, but if your rental space doesn't have a coat closet near the front door, then you might worry that tenants will pass on your place.
Instead of leaving it up to tenants to reimagine your front entry way, do the work for them and install wall hooks for coats, hats and bags. Hang four or five on a wall near the door and stagger them so your tenants have room to hang their belongings. This solves two problems. First off, it shows tenants that even if your space is lacking in some ways, there are easy fixes to maximize the space.
This also solves another problem: what to do about tenants who put holes in the wall to hang things. It's inevitable that tenants will want to hang their own photos and shelves on the wall, and your prospective tenants might already be thinking about installing hooks by the front door. If you do the work for them, then you have more control over how the hooks are hung and what they're made from. Since you're the landlord, you can invest in a better material, a solid metal that will hold up from tenant to tenant. You can also ensure that the hooks are installed correctly. That means into a stud, not just the drywall. If tenants do it themselves, they'll be less concerned about how wells the hooks are installed. If you do the work, then you can rest easy knowing that the hook won't tear the drywall.
Choose bright, neutral paint colors
It's amazing what paint colors can do to brighten up a room — or make it much darker. If you had two identical rooms, each with one south-facing window, then the one with the brighter paint color is always going to look brighter and bigger. A dark paint color, even with plenty of light, will look cave-like to prospective tenants.
But before you start painting with bright blues or yellows, consider what your tenant might want.Most tenants could care less about the color of the walls simply because they know they can't paint them, but there is a limit. In areas like Washington, DC, where there are plenty of places to rent, every little factor matters. You don't want to give tenants a reason not to chose your property, so stick to neutral colors when painting your walls. Your tenant can still decorate in their own style, and they'll find plenty of rugs. bedspreads and furniture to make up for the lack of wall color.
Add a murphy bed
You might think of murphy beds — the type of beds that fold out of the wall — as something quite dated, but murphy beds are making a comeback, especially in small spaces. When done well, a murphy bed can be a major selling feature for renters.
Murphy beds in one-bedroom and studio apartments offer a ton of benefits. If you frequently rent to students or government employees that move in and out of spaces every other year, a murphy bed can save a tenant the trouble of investing in furniture that they would probably leave before when he or she moved out. It's also a great space saver. When a tenant wants to entertain, the bed can go up into the wall, making plenty of space for a dining table and chairs or an extra ottoman or pouf.
If you're concerned about a dated-looking murphy bed, invest in high-quality cabinets to go along with it and add your own mattress. It's a bit more expensive, but having a murphy bed that looks well made and comes with a good mattress will be a big benefit for anyone who'd rather not purchase or have to move a bed — especially if your rental unit is on the top floor.
Customize your storage
Cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom can make or break a space for renters. A kitchen or bathroom with too little storage will be an instant pass, so before you start renting out your property, consider installing custom cabinets in your kitchen, bathroom or even living room to help tenants see the value in your space.
- Slim, open shelves in the kitchen can work wonders if you can't squeeze in any more cabinets, and they can make galley kitchens feel specially more spacious.
- Custom cabinets with a built-in desk in the living room can be a game changer for those tenants who don't want to buy a ton of furniture.
- A medicine cabinet and open shelves in the bathroom add both privacy and extra storage. Even if the bathroom is small, a medicine cabinet adds a lot of extra storage space, and floating shelves feel keep the space feeling open while providing some storage.
A little effort into your space's storage can go a long way with renters, and if it comes down to your apartment or a competitor, you can bet your storage options will be a big deciding factor.
Landlords of small spaces shouldn't fear that tenants will pass them up in lieu of bigger spaces. The truth is that it's all about how you maximize the space that you have. You don't have to break the bank to make your rental property livable, but providing some amenities will make it more attractive. It'll also be more likely that you'll find a tenant who wants to stick around.
Need more tips for maximizing your small rental property? Contact Atlas Lane to learn how our property asset managers can help you get the most out of your space and market it to renters. Start learning more here.