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The Best Rental Property Renovations in 2024

As a landlord, you should expect to renovate your rental property every couple of years. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about rental property improvements and how they can benefit you in the long-run.

Attracting and retaining tenants in today’s competitive rental market requires rental property owners to offer well-maintained and updated units. In addition to attracting tenants, rental property upgrades can increase rental income, reduce vacancy rates, and improve overall tenant satisfaction.

In this guide, we will provide you with details on rental property renovations and how they can benefit you in the long run. Whether you’ve been a landlord for years or are just starting out, you’ll find valuable insights and practical tips to help you make informed decisions about upgrading your investment property.

Table of Contents

Identify your rental property upgrade goals

Before deciding to renovate your rental property, consider what your goals are. For example, is your goal to increase your rental income? Reduce vacancy rates? Improve tenant satisfaction? Improve curb appeal? Or increase the value of your property? Setting specific goals can help you narrow down which rental property renovation ideas are right for you.

For different rental property renovation ideas, keep reading.

Rental property maintenance vs. upgrades

Many people use the terms “rental property maintenance” and “rental property upgrades” interchangeably. However, there are some key differences between the two.

Maintenance refers to the tasks that are necessary to keep a rental property in good condition and habitable. Examples include repairing leaky faucets or replacing broken windows. On the other hand, upgrades are improvements that are made to a rental property to increase its perceived value. Examples include remodeling the kitchen, adding a new bathroom, or replacing carpet with hardwood floors. Upgrades are typically more expensive than maintenance tasks, but will increase your rental revenue from the property.

Below, you can find a table of common maintenance tasks, their associated costs, and the average frequency in which the maintenance task should be performed.

Maintenance Task Associated Costs Maintenance Frequency
Replace smoke detectors $10-$30 Every 10 years
Change air filters $5-$20 Every 3 months
Clean gutters $50-$150 Twice a year
Repair leaky faucets $50-$200 When detected
Replace broken windows $100-$500 When detected
Paint exterior of building $500-$2,000 Every 5 years
Replace roof $20,000-$25,000 Every 20-25 years
Replace HVAC system $2,000-$5,000 Every 10-15 years
Replace water heater $2,500-$7,500 Every 6-12 years
Replace carpet $1,000-$3,000 Every 5-15 years
Now that we’ve established property maintenance tasks and their associated costs, let’s dive into different types of rental property upgrades and improvements.

Different types of rental property renovations

Whether you’re looking to increase rental income, reduce vacancy rates, or simply make your property more attractive to tenants, there are many renovation options to consider. We’ll cover everything from appliance upgrades to room-by-room renovation ideas. We’ll also provide insights into the associated costs and potential benefits of each improvement. By the end of this section, you’ll have a better understanding of the different renovation options available and how they can positively impact your rental property investment.

New Appliances

Adding new appliances to a rental property has many benefits. For starters, it makes the property more attractive to potential tenants and can even raise rental prices. New appliances look modern and are more energy-efficient as well, which will save tenants money on utility bills. They also require less maintenance and repairs, keeping both landlords and tenants happy.

Here’s a list of common appliance upgrades, their costs, and respective lifespan. Please note, these costs are average approximations and can vary by season and your geographical location.

How much do appliances cost?

ApplianceAverage Price RangeLifespan
Gas Range (Stove/Oven)$400-$750 USD15 years
Refrigerator$300-$1,600 USD10-18 years
Dishwasher$300-$500 USD10 years
Microwave$50-$300 USD7-8 years
Washing machine$450-$750 USD10-13 years
Dryer$250-$500 USD10-13 years
Grill$300-$600 USD5-15 years

* Pricing information was pulled from lowes.com and homedepot.com

What rental appliances are landlords required to provide in California?

Landlords in California are not legally required to provide any appliances in rental properties.

The law only requires landlords to provide basic necessities like a heat source, hot and cold running water, a working sewage system, and a functional electrical system. Appliances are considered amenities, not requirements.

However, many landlords choose to provide common appliances like refrigerators, stoves/ovens, and sometimes washers and dryers to make the rental unit more attractive to potential tenants. If a landlord chooses to provide appliances, they are responsible for maintaining and repairing them. However, the landlord can specify in the lease that the tenant(s) are responsible for appliance upkeep.

For a full list of what a landlord must provide in California, check out this PDF released by the California Department of Transportation.

Shopping tips for new appliances:

When budgeting for new appliances, don’t forget to factor in the cost of installation. You can often save money by purchasing appliances in a bundle. Be sure to shop around and compare prices before you buy.

Roof Restoration

Replacing the roof is one of the most expensive rental property renovations. Even though it is a major expense, it can have a major impact on the safety, value, and overall condition of your property.

A new roof can help to prevent weather and water damage of all kinds. A damaged roof, on the other hand, can allow water to leak into the building, which can cause serious damage to the structure and the interior finishes. This can lead to costly repairs and even health problems for your tenants. A new roof can also help to protect your property from wind damage. In areas prone to hurricanes and other storms, a strong roof is a lifesaver.

How much does it cost to replace a roof in Orange County?

The average cost of a new roof in Orange County is around $20,000. Replacing the roof on your rental property is a major investment, but it is one that can pay off in the long run by increasing the value of your property.

Kitchen Renovations

A new kitchen for your rental property is a huge selling point. For starters, kitchens are one of the most important rooms in a home. This is where tenants eat, cook, and entertain. Therefore, a well-designed kitchen can make a big difference in attracting and retaining tenants. Not to mention, a well-designed kitchen can also dramatically increase the value of a rental property. Here are some rental property kitchen renovations worth consideration.

Best counters for a rental property

What is the best countertop material for a rental property?

The best countertop material for a rental property kitchen is one that is durable, easy to clean, and affordable. Here are some of the best options:
  • Laminate: Laminate is a budget-friendly option that is available in a variety of colors and patterns. It’s also easy to clean and maintain.
  • Solid surface: Solid surface countertops are made from a mixture of acrylic resins and minerals. They are durable, non-porous, and resistant to stains and scratches.
  • Quartz: Quartz countertops are made from a mixture of quartz and resin. They are very durable and resistant to heat, scratches, and stains.
  • Granite: Granite is a natural stone that is very durable and heat-resistant. It is also available in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Concrete: Concrete countertops are a unique and stylish option. They are durable and can be customized to any color or shape.
  • Soapstone: Soapstone is a natural stone material that is soft and easy to work with, but it is also very durable. Soapstone countertops are resistant to heat, scratches, and stains, and they develop a beautiful patina over time.
  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel countertops are a popular choice for commercial kitchens and other high-traffic areas due to their durability and ease of cleaning. They are resistant to heat, scratches, and stains, but they can be noisy and show fingerprints and smudges.
Here’s a comparison of the different types of countertops, their prices, and lifespan. Keep in mind that the price depends on the size of the countertop and the lifespan depends on upkeep.

Types of countertop material by price

Countertop MaterialAverage PriceLifespan
Laminate$19-$45 per square foot20-30 years
Solid Surface$64 per square foot15-30 years
Quartz$80 per square foot10-15 years
Granite$70-$200 per square foot100 years
Concrete$100-$135 per square foot100 years
Soapstone$55-$100 per square foot20 years
Stainless Steel$70-$160 per square foot20 years

* Pricing information was pulled from homedepot.com, hgtv.com and forbes.com.

Best cabinets for a rental property

The best cabinets for a rental property are those that are durable, easy to clean, and affordable. Here are some of the best options:
  • Laminate cabinets: Laminate cabinets are a good choice for rental properties because they are durable and easy to clean. They are also relatively affordable, making them a good option for landlords on a budget.
  • Solid wood cabinets: Solid wood cabinets are a more expensive option than laminate cabinets, but they are also more durable and can last for many years. They’re also a good choice for rental properties that are in historic districts.
  • Metal cabinets: Metal cabinets are a good choice for rental properties that are in industrial or modern-style buildings. They’re durable and easy to clean, but they can be more expensive than laminate or solid wood cabinets.
  • Thermofoil cabinets: Thermofoil cabinets are a good choice for rental properties that are in humid climates. They are made of a wood composite that is covered with a thin layer of plastic. This makes them resistant to moisture and warping.

Bathroom Remodeling

Bathroom remodeling for your rental property can range from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. Budget-friendly bathroom upgrades include replacing faucets, showerheads, and towel bars. These small, but impactful changes can instantly increase the aesthetic appeal of the space.

If you have more money to spend, consider refreshing the vanity area. Repainting or refacing existing cabinetry, replacing hardware, and updating the countertop and sink can breathe new life into the space without the need for a complete overhaul. Additionally, installing a new mirror with modern framing or backlighting can add a touch of luxury and perceived property value to tenants.

On the other hand, if you’re ready to spend a couple thousand dollars to upgrade your rental property bathrooms, consider replacing the flooring, repainting the walls, and/or replacing the shower curtain with a shower door. We always recommend choosing durable and easy-to-clean materials for your rental. For flooring, consider options such as vinyl or tile, which are not only budget-friendly but also resistant to moisture and wear. For the walls, a fresh coat of white or neutral paint can increase the perceived space and brighten the ambiance. Finally, if you have a shower curtain, consider replacing it with a shower door for a completed bathroom renovation look.

When remodeling bathrooms in rental properties, focusing on practical upgrades that improve aesthetics, functionality, and durability can help landlords maximize their return on investment.

Open Floor Plan

Does open concept increase value?

Yes. If you have the time and resources to knock down some walls, open concepts are a great way to increase the value of your property. In addition to enhancing the spaciousness and flow in the living space, an open floor plan maximizes natural light and improves the overall perceived value of the property. It also facilitates better air circulation and ventilation. Moreover, open floor plans are often associated with modernity and contemporary design trends, which will appeal to renters who are willing to spend top-dollar on their living spaces.

Flooring upgrades

Having strong and durable flooring can increase the value of your property. When upgrading the flooring in a rental property, there are several options to consider.
  • Laminate flooring: Laminate flooring is affordable, easy to install, and durable. However, it’s not waterproof. Therefore, to preserve this flooring, tenants will have to be careful to fully dry spills.
  • Vinyl flooring: Vinyl flooring is also an affordable, easy to install, and durable option. In contrast to laminate flooring, vinyl flooring is waterproof. This extra feature offers a huge benefit to landlords, as they can have peace of mind that water spills by tenants won’t damage their property.
  • Hardwood flooring: Even though hardwood flooring is expensive, it’s classic, elegant, and increases the value of your property. However, not all hardwood floors are waterproof. If you want waterproof hardwood floors, you must request an additional finish.
  • Tile flooring: In addition to being durable and waterproof, tile flooring offers a variety of styles and colors. This is a great option, although it can also be expensive and difficult to install. In addition, tile flooring can be cold and uncomfortable to walk on barefoot.
  • Carpet flooring: Carpet is affordable, soft, and comfortable. But it’s not waterproof and can be difficult to clean.

We find that tenants often prefer hard flooring options over carpet flooring. Therefore, properties with laminate, vinyl, hardwood, or tile floors can typically command higher rents.

Ultimately, the best flooring option for your rental property will depend on the budget, the desired look, and the amount of traffic the floor will receive.

New windows

Installing new windows in a rental property offers lots of benefits. For starters, investing in double-pane or energy-efficient windows offers great insulation advantages for the unit. According to a report by Realtor.com, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that you (or your tenants) will save between $126-$465 per year by replacing single pane windows.

Best windows for rental property

When choosing windows for a rental property, there are several factors to consider, including durability, energy efficiency, security, and cost. Here are some of the best window options for your rental:
  • Vinyl windows: Vinyl windows are a popular choice for rental properties because they are durable, energy efficient, and affordable. They are also easy to clean and maintain.
  • Aluminum windows: Aluminum windows are another durable and energy-efficient option. They are also fire-resistant and can help to improve security. However, they can be more expensive than vinyl windows.
  • Fiberglass windows: Fiberglass windows are usually more expensive than vinyl, however, they are better at retaining their structural integrity during the hot summer months.
  • Composite windows: Composite windows are made from a combination of materials, such as wood, vinyl, and fiberglass. They offer the best of both worlds, combining the durability and energy efficiency of vinyl windows with the beauty and warmth of wood windows. However, they can be the most expensive option.
Here is a comparison of the different types of windows, their prices, and lifespans:
Window material Average Price Lifespan
Vinyl $200-$500 per window 20-30 years
Aluminum $300-$700 per window 40 years
Fiberglass $700-$1,000 per window 40 years
Composite $600-$1,200 per window 40 years
If you choose to install new windows in your rental, consider updating the blinds and curtains as well. These added privacy features will help your tenants feel safe in the property.

Fresh Paint

Freshly painting the walls of your property is a great way to increase its value in the rental market. We find that white or an off-white wall color helps the space look larger and help the property rent faster.

In conclusion…

We hope you enjoyed these rental property renovation ideas! In addition to increasing the value of your property, you also get to claim a rental property tax deduction after upgrading your property.

Hiring a Property Management Company

Managing the responsibilities and repairs of your rental can be cumbersome and time consuming. At Good Life Property Management, we believe that life should be enjoyed, not spent sweating the small stuff. That’s why we set out on a mission to make property management easy. We care about you, your property, and your tenant. And we do it all, so you can Live the Good Life.

To figure out how much your property can rent for, visit our free rent estimate calculator for landlords. To speak with one of our Orange County property management experts, schedule a call.

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