Tenant-Proof Your Rentals


Here are some ideas of my own, and some shared by other people, for how to “harden” your rentals and make them relatively immune to tenant neglect and abuses.  Do you have more ideas you would like to share?

  • Fan timer for bathroom to pull out moist air
  • Other people want fan and light on same switch, so fan is turned on at least some of the time
  • Other people suggest installing a humidistat, so fan turns on automatically when humidity gets high
  • Steel toilet handles, levers, and good chain
  • Replace toilet mechanisms upon acquisition, and then every two years. Cheaper than a plumber
  • Remove pop-up from bathroom sink drain; provide a rubber one
  • Use high gloss white paint in high traffic areas, because it cleans easily
  • Remove dishwashers from low end rental units. Rack up more in repairs than they bring in increased rent
  • Buy curtains in thrift stores and yard sales. Can wash those. Blinds are usually trashed out after tenant leaves
  • Stage low end properties with shower curtain, toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap and a sponge.  Less than $10, makes a difference in speed of rental
  • Put plywood on bottom of cabinet under sink. Anything leaks, it ruins the plywood, not the actual cabinet
  • Or, put vinyl on the bottom, with ends curled up slightly
  • Install plastic door stops that stick to walls, plus the hinge type
  • Remove garbage disposal. It is ALWAYS a problem with tenants
  • Use laminate flooring. For higher-end properties, buy some oriental rugs at garage sales for staging, and then rent them to tenants for an extra $20/month
  • moldgroutCeramic tile with very narrow grout
  • Towel rack and toilet paper wooden “backer” bars
  • Metal doors jams for lower end properties
  • “Allure” flooring—25 yr warranty, floating and waterproof
  • Limit/remove as many trees and shrubs as possible. Reduce lawn maintenance to mowing
  • 4” screws in the latches of all exterior doors, for security
  • Chains on storm doors so can’t whip open and trash the closers
  • Remove icemaker. Make up 50% of appliance service calls
  • If having a furnace installed, pay a little extra for the filter rack. Makes changing easier
  • When fans quit working, replace with simple light fixture instead of another ceiling fan
  • Cage the HVAC units and bolt to the wall. Also, lock circuit breaker box.  If the home has security, think about installing an HVAC alarm that links to the security system. Remove bushes around exterior units.
  • Use Kwikset smart key locks (some people have trouble with these, though. Do your research)
  • Lower end rentals-paint the wood floors with porch paint. Easy to re-do
  • Don’t install towel bars, install 1×4 piece of wood, paint same color as trim, and put hooks on it. No kids ever try to do chin-ups on the hooks.
  • Solid wood or metal exterior doors. Sensor light above, high enough that can’t be disabled
  • Many power companies have an “appliance repair plan” for $20 month. Require tenant to get that.
  • Cell phone based wireless alarm system for $15/month  www.simplisafe.com
  • ¾ inch galvanized pipe for shower curtain rods, strong enough to support chin ups
  • Remove tile tub surrounds unless you like scrubbing grout. Replace with moisture-resistant drywall and high gloss paint. Use plastic z-bar at edges
  • Replace small vanities with pedestal sinks. Add a shelf for storage.
  • Switch out ballcock style toilet guts with fluidmaster
  • LED light fixtures with no bulbs. Rated to last 20 years.
  • Install Cadet low flow toilets–they flush properly, don’t get clogged