Rental Maintenance

DIY Tips for Fixing Up Your Rental

74 views March 4, 2024 Karina Jugo 4

When it comes to selling anything, presentation is key. The same applies to renting out property. No one wants to rent a shabby house or apartment that looks like it needs more than just a little TLC. There are many DIY options for fixing up your rental that are budget-friendly and just as effective as having a professional come in.

But first things first. All too often, the money spent on renovation offers absolutely no return on investment. The reason for this is simple: most people believe that they need to make grand, sweeping renovations in order to increase the appeal and by virtue of that, improve the return on investment.

This harkens to the “you have to spend money to make money” mentality, but when it comes to changes to a property, that may not always apply. We advise you to check out this chart which offers an eye opening look at the actual return on investment of various projects by area. It’s a good place to start, because when you begin to consider renovating, it’s important to consider how much cost you’ll recoup.

Refresh Paint

Instead of hiring a professional company, repaint the walls yourself. It is fairly inexpensive, and the experts at the hardware store will help you choose the best paint compound for your walls. If there are holes or gouges in the walls, you can purchase spackle and fill in the areas for a smooth surface.

When giving your rental a fresh coat of paint, you want to stick with neutral colors such as white or beige.  Picking a color that’s bright, cheerful, or otherwise may seem appealing to you but might not be to another prospective renter.  Keep it simple—it’s just safer and allows prospects to envision their own space.

hire flooring company

Replace Flooring

While it is not an absolute necessity to replace the flooring in your rental every time a new tenant moves in, it is still a nice addition, should the budget allow and the need be present. There are budget friendly vinyl squares or laminated wood to give the floor a professional look without having to break the bank. It takes a bit of work and planning to lay it out properly, but it is worth it in the end.


A good rule of thumb to follow is to spend some time and money into landscaping the rental property. The first thing a potential renter is going to see is the yard. Curb appeal matters a lot and if the property is cluttered with broken down vehicles or just a lot of dirt and sand, prospects will be deterred and may not even look in the house.

Go to a local nursery, Home Depot, or Lowes and price-check things like grass seed, plants, shrubs, etc. If the grass is there but overgrowing, you will want to make sure that it gets mowed on a regular basis.

Appliance Facelift

When you are renting a property out, you may need to provide appliances.  If any items are broken, they will need to be replaced or repaired. If they are fully functional but do not match, you could consider purchasing new faceplates for the appliances to match the décor.

Stylize Light Fixtures

In the event that any light fixtures do not work, it is best to replace them. Many landlords are now springing to add light fixtures with ceiling fans or candelabras versus a traditional globe. Ceiling fans are great for circulating the air and minimizing the potential for mold growth and stale air.

diy fix rental property

Added Tips for Refurbishing Apartments & Condo Units

The above tips should work well for most rental properties. However, if you’re renting out an apartment or condo unit, keep in mind that your potential tenants will come from different demographics. Variables can include factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic measures, and group membership.

Landlords usually face a challenging task when furnishing an apartment in a way that appeals to a broad audience, while also make it unique enough to stand out from any other unit that is available. However, being able to ride that line between broad appeal and unique means being acutely aware of current trends while not making it so voguish that it’s out of style a month later.

Below, we’ve put together some added advice when fixing up apartments and condo units to appeal to a wider audience.

  1. Pendant lighting. One of the most pernicious deal-breakers among apartment rentals is horrible lighting. Overbearing overheads give the intimacy of a Walmart floor, while too many task lights feels spotty.  Pendant lights bring light into the heart of where you need it, yet are high enough to cast broader illumination.  Their easy installation doesn’t hurt either.
  2. Gender neutrality. When the right person sees your apartment that’s been made over as Barbie’s dream home, it’s the easiest sale of the century.  However, renting is a numbers game, so avoid stereotypical color schemes or gender-inflected details.   It’s not just that women may not want to live in rooms that, say, suggest a hunting den — members of either sex will avoid trappings that may alienate anyone on these lines. (NB:  this doesn’t mean palettes should be boring, however.)
  3. Go with classics. It may be tempting to lure in renters with a look that’s setting the pages of design journals abuzz, but design trends can not only connect with limited demographics; they also may disappear before the wallpaper has dried.  That said, an empty apartment should have more character than a doctor’s waiting room, but not through splashy niche fads.
  4. Bomb the carpets. Among rentals, it’s the nature of the beast that carpets are prone to burn holes, soda stains, and sundry other scars of daily life. If you’re walking on truly damaged goods, recarpeting is worth the price.  Better yet, if hardwood floor lurks below, forego carpeting altogether and refurbish the wood.  Long-covered hardwood can appear to be a lost cause, but don’t be fooled.  It’s not as expensive to recondition as you might think, and it’s a reliable selling point.
  5. Don’t get too personal. While splashes of character in the form of lithographs or sculpture may seem impressive, potentially divisive, factional images and references may subliminally sour the deal.  This can be a definitive judgment call – is that abstract Taxi Driver poster print classic or cultish? Clear invocations of religious or political partisanship, however, should always be discouraged.

A Final Word

You should have noticed a sharp theme of a neutral presentation in the above, and indeed you should try to create the broadest appeal when fixing up your rental.  However, be sure not to go overboard and strip the property down to monastic austerity.

When fixing up rentals, the place should feel as if it could be lived in – just not anyone too particular – so pepper the space with no-fail interiors and well-chosen furnishings.  Finally, in some cases, the industry warnings against “too much personality” should be taken with a grain of salt.  The eccentricities of some local housing markets may court more narrow targets, so it’s always best to know your potential renters.


  • Karina Jugo

    Karina Jugo is a content administrator at RentPost who works directly with real estate and property management experts to create resources and guides for property managers. She has more than 15 years of experience in content research and writing for various industries.

  • Jacob Thomason

    Jacob Thomason is the CEO and co-founder of RentPost, software platform providing property managers, landlord or owners with the tools necessary for property management. Jacob is a software entrepreneur with with a vast array of expertise ranging from business concept design to software architecture and development. He is running RentPost for more than 14 years and helping property managers and property owners.

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