It’s Just A Rental, Right? Wrong!

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Home Improvement

By: Cindy Siok, Principal Broker, At Home Hawaii


Landlords often put their rental property on the bottom of their priorities when it comes to remodeling. However, sometimes renovation is necessary to get a property ready to rent. A well-renovated rental will rent for more money and often to better quality tenants. The renovation will also increase your property value, which may be important if you decide to sell the property in the future.


Once faced with a decision to renovate a rental, many owners will attempt to tackle the work themselves, but as a professional property manager I do not recommend that the homeowner take on a remodeling project if they already have a full-time job, a family and a desire to get a few hours' sleep at night.


One of my favorite quotes is: "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” - Paul Neal "Red" Adair


You never know what's going to arise once you start demolition. As soon as you open up a wall, you never know if you're going to find termite damage, electrical problems or plumbing in need of upgrades - so be sure to pad your budget before any work begins.


One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to rental renovation is selecting cheap building materials, because it’s “only a rental, right?” The bottom line is, you're going to get what you pay for. People often underestimate what it's going to cost to do a big renovation, and part of that is because they don't realize the biggest cost in a renovation is usually the labor. If you are going to pay for professional installation – you may as well select materials that will stand the test of time and last a good many years. Then you won’t need to re-do the same project anytime soon.


Great tenants like the same things homeowners like – clean, renovated space with nice finishes. Renters never request white appliances – they like stainless steel, just like everyone else. They don’t want an old coil stove – they like the smooth top ranges. And the truth is, white shows rust much too quickly in Hawaii, making black appliances a better deal in the long run.


Renters also prefer a plank flooring (wood, vinyl or laminate). They usually do not like carpet. Carpet in a rental is on par with using someone else's towel. Tenants often do not take care of carpet, which only has a lifespan of about 10 years with the best of homeowners. In our experience, it has a lifespan of about three years with renters. It’s hard to find good renters when carpets have permanent stains left over from the last tenants. It might be cleaned, but it doesn’t look clean. We recommend landlords install vinyl plank flooring. It looks great and in Hawaii it withstands humidity, sand and spills.


Having nice flooring and fresh paint goes a long way to attracting a good tenant. If you have updated the kitchen and bathrooms, you will get the very best renters.

If you have a home on Oahu that could use exceptional property management, contact Greg at At Home Hawaii. He can explain how we help owners get properties ready for rent, how we market homes and screen applicants to ensure the best tenants.