You might be offering too many amenities at your rental property.
The implied warranty of habitability requires you provide renters with safe, livable accommodations. The rental must have heat, hot and cold running water, working electricity, and a method for disposing of trash. Apart from that, anything else you provide is a bonus.
You might be surprised to know this includes appliances. All appliances, except the water heater, which landlords are required to provide by law, are considered amenities. But certain appliances, such as a stove and refrigerator, will make the rental more attractive.
Consider avoiding items that might create maintenance or liability problems, things that outweigh their benefit to renters and don’t add value to the rental. Here are 10 items you may not want to have at your rental property.
1. Trash compactor
With an average life expectancy of only 6 years, a trash compactor’s sole function is to turn several bags of trash into one big, heavy one. It can’t handle glass, metal, or plastic. And because it gets emptied infrequently, food scraps have plenty of time to turn into smelly ant magnets. The alcove it occupies would serve renters better as extra storage space.
Dishwashers don’t last much longer than trash compactors, on average. They are arguably more utilitarian, but most people can do without one. Save water, electricity, and money — and avoid maintenance headaches — by turning the dishwasher alcove into storage space too.
3. Ice maker
The convenience of not having to fill ice trays with water and put them in the freezer doesn’t justify the problems you’ll have if someone moves the refrigerator and the water connection leaks. If you supply a refrigerator that has an ice maker, consider leaving it disconnected. Better yet, provide a refrigerator that doesn’t have an ice maker.
4. Garbage disposal
Garbage disposals are useful, and they aren’t that expensive to repair or replace, but they may be behind more maintenance calls than any other appliance. Think carefully before supplying one at your rental, especially if children live there.
Some parents won’t even let their children play on a trampoline, but those that do should buy their own. Even that small trampoline you use to tighten your abs is a potential hazard for kids. Take it out of the garage or basement, and put it in storage or donate it to your local gym before renters move in.
6. Swing sets
Kids love swings, but it’s safer for you if they use the ones at the local park. The possibility of injuries is your main concern, but you should also think about how difficult it is to maintain the lawn around a swing set. It’s best to avoid swinging chairs on the porch as well. They can break.
Inflatable pools need to be refilled often, or they quickly become unsanitary. It takes 810 gallons of water to fill a 6-by-6-foot wading pool to a depth of 3 feet. That’s roughly the amount of water the average household uses in 10 days.
A note about in-ground pools: If your rental property already has a pool, you probably aren’t going to take it out. You might consider covering it and keeping the gate locked, however, for the following reasons:
- Maintenance is expensive, and the pool pump uses energy.
- A poorly-maintained pool is unsanitary. It’s an eyesore and could earn you a visit from the local health authorities.
- Pools are hazardous for small children.
Read this article for more information about pool liability for landlords.
8. Bi-fold doors
These lightweight doors are great for closets with oversized openings, but they are fragile — especially the hardware. The overhead gliders tend to come unseated, and while the repair isn’t difficult, you might be the one who has to fit it into your busy schedule. Consider by-pass doors as an alternative.
9. Screen doors
Lightweight screen doors are fragile, and wooden ones tend to warp in the weather. The virtual inevitability of children or pets poking holes in the screen adds to their undesirability in a rental. Storm doors are a sturdier alternative.
The best floor coverings for rentals are those that are durable, waterproof, and mold resistant. Hardwood, laminates, vinyl, and ceramic tiles all fit the bill. Carpeting, however, is a problem item, and you shouldn’t include it in a rental unless it’s already there and removing it would be even more problematic.
Carpeting muffles noise, which is a great advantage in a multi-family unit. It also adds insulation and makes a room cozier. But these drawbacks outweigh the benefits:
- Mold loves to grow in carpeting, especially heavy-pile shag rugs.
- Spills and pet accidents often produce permanent stains.
- Direct sunlight fades the color, so carpets are a poor choice for rooms with lots of windows.
If the rental has a functional hardwood or laminate floor, renters can always lay their own rugs or carpets. They may even appreciate the opportunity to add their own design touch to their living space.
Once renters occupy your property, you have limited control over the way they treat it. To keep your repair responsibilities and expenses to a minimum, it’s best to opt for durable furnishings over flashier and more sumptuous — but more fragile — ones. Here is more information on ways to reduce maintenance on your rental without sacrificing functionality.