Once a tenant is in a unit, it's easy to forget or simply delay making any improvements. Cosmetic improvements such as new countertops or flooring can certainly wait, but maintenance and safety improvements should be made as soon as the unit opens up, so everything is compliant for the next renter. By focusing on safety, you can impact your vacancy rate and in turn, increase revenue.
Here are some easy improvements to make now
Upgrade to GFCI
If the property is more than 20 years old, chances are your electrical panels are no longer code compliant. GFCI outlets automatically turn electricity off to the outlet location in case of an electrical fire or other circuit overload. Whether you complete maintenance regularly in your complex or you hire out to electricians, upgrading to GFCI is relatively simple to do yourself. Look up your local building codes for what is required but typically anywhere where water is present in the same room is required, including outdoor outlets. Many tenants will notice when outlets aren't GFCI's, so best to get ahead on this one.
Check the Smoke Alarms and CO2 Detectors in Each Unit
Hopefully, this is a safety improvement you have already completed and regularly maintain. According the U.S. Fire Administration, 29 percent of all residential fires result in death. Oftentimes it's a malfunctioning smoke alarm or lack of a CO2 detector that contributes to these preventable deaths. CO2 detectors are now required by code so check locally about required placement. Combined units don't work quite as well as separate smoke and CO2 detectors so until technology improves, invest in dedicated units
Install a Security System
Having a state-of-the-art security system is a feature leasing agents can highlight to prospective tenants as part of your property marketing strategy. You can even demonstrate how the security system works when showing prospective tenants a unit or property. Having such systems installed can also help reduce overall crime in or near your units, reducing your insurance costs and liabilities. Many systems can be installed without monthly contracts or fees, keeping your costs low.
Kick Proof Your Doors
Protect your investment by protecting the exterior entrances. First, all your units should have deadbolts and any deadbolt should have a 1-inch-long deadbolt lock as well as a reinforced metal box strike. Replace existing screws on the lock, which are typically too short allowing intruders to split the jamb when they kick it, with 3-inch-long screws to mount them so they are lodged in the framing beyond the doorjamb. Secure sliding patio doors with a sliding lock or allow tenants to install window film, which can slow down an intruder.
All units should have well-lit entryways with bright bulbs that illuminate the door. Walkways, parking areas and the property perimeters should also be well-lit and regularly checked. Now is the time to replace any compact florescent bulbs with LED bulbs. The upfront cost for LED bulbs has come down significantly in recent years and you can check for rebates too from your local utility provider. LEDs illuminate instantly and are projected to last up five times longer than CFLs. Also, high quality lighting makes your security system even more secure.