Renovating a Rental Property: Key Home Improvement Projects That Increase Value

Explore key home improvements for rental properties, like kitchen remodels and smart tech, to boost value and attract tenants, alongside financial planning and tenant screening tips.

Gemma Smith
Last Updated
November 24, 2023
Renovating a Rental Property: Key Home Improvement Projects That Increase Value

Have you recently purchased a rental property that looks a bit worn or needs a refresh? Is your property staying on the rental market longer than expected, with potential tenants suggesting it doesn't quite hit the mark?

This is an ideal time to consider an upgrade. Every month that a property remains vacant costs you. Smart, strategic renovations can make a significant difference, turning a lingering listing into a desirable dwelling.

Stay with us as we explore essential home improvements, from stylish kitchen remodels to the latest smart home technology. We'll guide you in determining the best renovations for your specific situation and how to keep your financial records clear and concise. 

Why renovating a rental property is a great idea

Investing in rental property renovations and upgrades not only improves your property aesthetically, it also enhances the property's market value, attracts and retains quality tenants, and ultimately boosts your return on investment (ROI).

Thoughtfully executed renovations can substantially decrease long-term maintenance expenses, enhance energy efficiency, and ensure your property remains competitive in the dynamic rental market. Moreover, strategic improvements can justify higher rental rates, as tenants are often ready to pay more for modern, efficient, and visually appealing living spaces.

A compelling statistic from Remodeling Magazine's 2022 Cost vs. Value Report underscores this point: kitchen remodels in rental properties can yield an average ROI ranging from 52.5% to 71.2%, depending on the extent of the remodel. This demonstrates the tangible financial benefits of varying levels of kitchen upgrades.

By channeling funds into property upgrades, you're not just improving its current appeal, you're also cementing its future desirability. This positions your property as a sound financial investment for sustained success in the real estate market.

5 key renovation projects

Now that we've established the significance of upgrading your rental property and its potential benefits, let's dive into the specific home improvement projects that can make the most impact. 

1. Kitchen renovations

A well-appointed, modern kitchen is a major draw for renters. Imagine the appeal of pristine white cabinets, elegant stone countertops, and shiny stainless steel appliances. Such a kitchen isn't just a cooking space; it's a focal point that can significantly sway potential tenants in your favor.

But what if a full kitchen overhaul isn't feasible? Minor upgrades can still have a major impact. Consider cabinet refacing, which can transform the look of your kitchen at a fraction of the cost of new cabinetry. 

Updating the backsplash with contemporary tiling can add a splash of style and sophistication. And don't underestimate the power of new faucets and sinks — these simple changes can elevate the entire feel of the kitchen, making it more attractive to discerning renters. 

2. Bathroom upgrades

Much like kitchens, bathrooms are critical in shaping a potential renter's decision. Our rent estimate calculator indicates a growing preference among renters for properties with multiple bathrooms. Moreover, a well-renovated bathroom can be a decisive factor, setting your property apart in the competitive rental market.

However, if a complete bathroom renovation isn't within your budget, numerous, smaller upgrades can make a significant difference. Consider installing new fixtures to modernize the space instantly. 

A fresh coat of paint in a neutral, calming shade can rejuvenate the entire room. Replacing old flooring with new vinyl plank flooring is cost-effective and adds a contemporary touch. 

3. Energy-efficient additions

In today's eco-conscious world, landlords and renters increasingly focus on environmental and economic efficiency. Consider the allure of energy-saving LED lighting, smart thermostats, high-efficiency furnaces, and solar panels, among other advancements. These features are not just trendy; they offer tangible benefits.

These energy-efficient additions are a compelling selling point for renters, reflecting a commitment to sustainability and potentially lower utility costs. For landlords, the long-term savings are considerable, particularly if utilities are included in the rental price. 

4. Curb appeal enhancements

Picture walking along a neighborhood street, admiring a row of charming homes. Then, you come across a property with an overgrown front yard, peeling paint, visible wear and tear, and broken fences. This sight is hardly appealing, right? Such a state can significantly deter renters. That's why enhancing your property's curb appeal is essential.

Consider actions like repainting facades and trim to refresh the property's look. Transforming your yard into a low-maintenance, visually appealing space not only simplifies upkeep but also increases the attractiveness of your property. Regular cleaning of siding and gutters is key to maintaining a tidy appearance. A new front door can make a strong, positive first impression.

Incorporating fire-resistant landscaping in areas at risk of wildfire is a smart and considerate move. Choosing plants and materials that help with fire mitigation boosts the property's safety and can also be an attractive feature for environmentally and safety-conscious renters. 

5. Smart home technology

We find ourselves in an era marked by the rapid progression of technology, and the integration of smart home features has now become an expectation in contemporary living spaces. In fact, a recent study conducted by Oberlo reveals that in 2023, a staggering 63.43 million households in the United States are actively utilizing smart home devices, marking a 10.2% increase from the previous year. With an increasing number of individuals working remotely, engaging in online gaming, or seeking the convenience of remote access to their home systems, incorporating smart technology into your property is a prudent choice.

High-speed internet has become almost non-negotiable for many tenants as well, especially in our increasingly digital world. Additionally, security enhancements like doorbell cameras and surveillance systems add a layer of safety and appeal to the growing number of renters prioritizing security in their living spaces.

Incorporating these technologies makes your property more attractive to a tech-savvy demographic and potentially positions you for a higher rental price.

Maximizing your investment

Investing in your rental property through renovations is not just about enhancing its appeal; it's about making smart financial decisions that maximize your investment. The key lies in selecting renovations that offer the best return on investment (ROI) and managing your finances effectively.

ROI on renovations

Calculating the ROI of your home improvements is essential to ensure you're making cost-effective decisions. Start by estimating the total cost of each renovation project, including materials, labor, and any unforeseen expenses.

Then, assess the potential increase in rental income or property value each upgrade could bring. One valuable resource for this assessment is the 2023 Cost vs. Value Report by, which provides valuable data on how various remodeling projects perform in terms of cost recuperation.

For example, if you're considering a kitchen remodel that costs $10,000 and you consult the Cost vs. Value Report, you might find that similar projects in your region have historically shown a strong ROI. If the report indicates that such renovations tend to recoup a significant portion of their cost, it could strengthen your decision to proceed.

Next, compare the increased income or value against the renovation costs to determine the ROI. For instance, if a kitchen remodel costs $10,000 and increases your monthly rent by $100, you'd see a return over time. Additionally, consider the long-term benefits of each renovation, such as reduced maintenance costs or higher tenant retention rates, which can also contribute to your investment's overall profitability.

Financial planning

Effective financial planning is crucial in managing renovation expenses and ensuring they don't exceed your budget. Tools like Azibo can be invaluable for landlords in this regard. With features that allow you to track renovation expenses, categorize them for tax purposes, and even set renovation budgets, these accounting tools help you maintain a clear overview of your finances. 

They also enable you to analyze the financial impact of your renovations in real time, ensuring that you stay on track with your investment goals. By leveraging such platforms, you can streamline your financial management process, keeping your renovation project within budget and on schedule.

Incorporating these strategies into your renovation projects can lead to more informed decisions, ensuring that each improvement enhances your property's appeal and contributes positively to your investment's bottom line.

Securing the ideal tenants

After enhancing your property through thoughtful renovations, the next step is to find prospective tenants who will appreciate and care for your upgraded space. Selecting tenants who are respectful and responsible is key to maintaining the property's improved condition, which in turn supports its long-term value. 

A detailed tenant screening process becomes essential here. Utilize comprehensive applications and screening services like Azibo for in-depth background checks. This approach helps in choosing tenants who have a solid track record of financial stability and respect for rental properties. 

Effective tenant screening goes beyond merely filling vacancies; it's about thoughtful decisions that preserve the value and desirability of your rental property in the long run.

Increasing value through rental renovations

We've journeyed through various home improvement projects, each offering unique benefits to your rental property. Kitchen and bathroom renovations greatly enhance aesthetic appeal and functionality, which are key factors in a tenant's decision-making process. Energy-efficient additions like smart thermostats and LED lighting attract eco-conscious tenants and contribute to significant cost savings in utility bills. 

Enhancements to curb appeal set the first impression of your property, increasing its attractiveness to potential renters. Meanwhile, integrating smart home technology caters to a growing demand for connected and secure living environments, often allowing for a higher rental price.

The long-term value of these investments cannot be overstated. Upgrading your rental property increases its immediate rental appeal and potential income and contributes to its overall market value. These improvements can lead to lower vacancy rates, higher tenant satisfaction and retention, and reduced maintenance costs. Essentially, you're future-proofing your investment.

To effectively manage these upgrades and the ongoing needs of your rental property, consider exploring property management tools like Azibo. These platforms can streamline various aspects of property management, from tracking renovation expenses to simplifying rent collection and tenant screening processes. 

With Azibo, you can ensure your property management is as efficient and effective as your upgrades, providing a comprehensive solution to maximize the benefits of your investment. Start exploring these tools today to take your property management to the next level.

Renovating a rental FAQs

How do you renovate a rental?

Renovating a rental involves several key steps. First, assess the property to identify areas needing improvement, considering both aesthetic and functional aspects. Prioritize projects based on their potential to increase the property's value and appeal to tenants.

Common renovations include updating kitchens and bathrooms, improving energy efficiency, and enhancing curb appeal. Plan your budget carefully, keeping in mind the return on investment. If possible, choose renovations that are less disruptive to current tenants.

Ensure all work complies with local building codes and regulations. Finally, consider hiring professionals for complex projects to ensure quality and efficiency.

How can I increase the value of my investment property?

To increase the value of your investment property, focus on renovations that offer high returns, such as modernizing kitchens and bathrooms, installing energy-efficient appliances, and updating heating and cooling systems.

Adding amenities like in-unit laundry facilities, secure parking, or smart home technology can also boost value. Regular maintenance is key to preserving the property's condition. Consider aesthetic improvements like fresh paint, new fixtures, or landscaping enhancements. Lastly, stay informed about market trends and adjust your rental strategy accordingly to maximize income and increase property value.

How much value does a dishwasher add to a rental?

The value a dishwasher adds to a rental can vary based on several factors, including the rental market and tenant expectations. In general, adding a dishwasher can make a property more appealing and competitive, especially in markets where this amenity is in high demand or considered standard.

While it's difficult to quantify the exact increase in dollar value, a dishwasher can lead to higher rental rates, attract higher quality tenants from a broader pool of potential tenants, and potentially decrease vacancy rates. It's also seen as a modern convenience that can elevate the perceived value of the property.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Gemma Smith

With 7 years in property management, Gemma serves as a key content strategist at While excelling in writing, editing, and SEO, she also enhances Azibo's social media presence. Passionately, Gemma educates others to make informed real estate investment decisions in the ever-changing market.

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