The rental market is becoming incredibly competitive. Between the hard lessons taught by COVID-era eviction moratoria, increasing labor costs, and skyrocketing material costs, rents are rising everywhere in the US. And you already know there’s a delicate balance between the perceived value of a rental home and a good tenant’s willingness to sign a new lease every year.
Today, we’ll cover why you should update the landscaping at your rentals. Then we’ll explore how you can get started on this project.
4 Reasons to Update the Landscaping at Your Income Property
Read on to learn about curb appeal, risk management, energy savings, and more.
1. Fresh Landscaping Improves Curb Appeal
Curb appeal is more important than ever because American employees are now very mobile. Studies published by Gallup in May 2022 state that 45% of all US employees work from home, either part-time (20%) or full-time (25%.) There’s less commuter traffic on the roads, and many families can skip the commute entirely. Rather than thinking about fuel economy and the daily drive, tenants in 2022 are looking for attractive, uplifted living.
Landlords can achieve that upscale appeal with fresh landscaping. Yes, there will be some investment and labor involved. But consider the numbers.
- New landscaping can improve your property value from 5% to 12%, according to Better Homes & Gardens.
- The rent you can charge will increase accordingly, within local and state rent control limits.
- And should you decide to sell this property, the improvements to landscaping will pay for themselves.
Landscaping at your rentals is a safe choice if you want to make a sound investment with nearly guaranteed returns.
2. Risk Management and Insurability
Insurability matters. Whether you’re running a multi-state property management organization or just inherited your first tiny mobile home, the ongoing costs of property insurance add up fast. And they never go away.
While most landlords believe the costs of property insurance are out of their hands, there are a few elements you can control. Specifically, your claims history affects your risk rating and monthly insurance premiums. Income property owners should be diligent about maintaining the home’s exterior and making it a safe place inside and out.
Quality landscaping will reduce the chance that a tenant or guest will be injured on your property.
- Tripping hazards will be removed, and uneven areas of the lawn will be repaired.
- The risk of property fires is reduced when dead or dying brush and trees are removed.
- Insurance inspectors LOVE to see a freshly landscaped rental.
That pride of ownership can lead to monthly savings on your insurance bill.
3. Gorgeous Landscaping Attracts Quality Tenants
We’ve already mentioned curb appeal as a pathway to increasing rents and overall property value. But looking beyond the immediate bottom line, experienced property managers know higher-quality tenants are attracted to higher-quality homes. Update your landscaping if you’re looking for tenants who:
- Treat your property with respect
- Are honest about their situation (family members and pets)
- Are likely to pay their rent on time
- Carry renter’s insurance (which reduces your liability for damaged or stolen belongings)
- Will sign a lease year after year because they’re happy with the home
If you’re tired of dishonest, irresponsible renters who smuggle in stinky cats, dangerous pit bulls, and extra inhabitants, uplifting the exterior of your home and increasing your rent is one way to separate the grain from the chaff. It’s all about perceived value and attention. Updated landscaping lets potential tenants know you care about this property and have regular maintenance eyes on it.
Speaking of maintenance, that’s the final reason why landscaping is a good investment in income properties.
4. Good Landscaping Can Reduce Your Maintenance and Utility Costs
Some parts of the US are experiencing record droughts. If your property lies in one of these areas, you need to reduce water use. Xeriscaping is a newer method of landscaping that incorporates drought-resistant plants and natural gravels, ultimately lowering your monthly water bill. Rather than pouring thousands of gallons onto a grass lawn every month, landlords save money by infrequently watering a few tough cacti.
If xeriscape landscaping isn’t appropriate in your neck of the woods, you could still save on upcoming maintenance costs. Some common examples include:
- Fewer labor hours and fuel for lawn mowing
- Fewer exterior repair costs
- More effective pest control
As you see, updated landscaping at income properties makes sense! Now let’s talk about how to get this project started.
Treat your income property like a business, starting by getting a budget in mind. Whether you’re looking to spend $3,000 or $30,000, this number makes a tremendous difference in your options moving forward.
Where to Find Landscaping Inspiration
Next, find some inspiration. Drive around and look at high-end rentals in your area. You can also check out local online classified ads to see what other landlords charge for high-end rentals and inspect their landscaping.
Sometimes it’s hard to describe the look you love. Thanks to the internet, you don’t need to be an expert arborist or know the types of grasses in your area. Just grab a handful of images from Pinterest to express your ideal yard, and a professional landscaping company can match the look with the appropriate species.
How to Meet with Landscaping Contractors
Bring your budget and images to meet with landscapers, and get more than one quote. Ask about their timelines, target dates, and any supply hiccups they expect. Ask to see a portfolio of their completed work.
- Once you’ve chosen the right landscaping company, pay them a deposit to get started.
- Don’t pay in full until you’re satisfied with the job.
Finally, it’s time to notify your tenants about the work. Be sure to inform them in writing of the dates and type of improvements they can expect to see. Doing so will reduce the risk of trip-and-fall accidents or noise complaints.
Once your new landscaping is complete, you have a good reason to increase the rent when it comes time for leases to be renewed. When new to property renting, research local laws regarding rent increases. Some cities, like San Francisco and Los Angeles, have rent control laws, which only allow rent to be increased by a set percentage every year. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit on your future rental income.