Home Modifications for Short-Term Rental Properties
Short-term rentals are the new wave for travel-enthusiasts. They’ve offered more options for people interested in experiencing the true feel of new places and they offer a much larger range of prices that make travel accessible to a broader audience. However, in the wake of COVID-19, the travel industry has been hit hard by new safety concerns. Short-term rental landlords are struggling to find ways to make ends meet and optimize their rentals within the current vacation lull to hopefully survive the summer.
Start By Deep Cleaning Everything
It can be tough to find time to deep clean your entire rental, but especially now that the global pandemic has increased guests’ concerns over cleanliness, this is something that all guests will take note of. Before you re-list your short-term rental, take the time to disinfect, dust, and sanitize absolutely everything. Focus on common places but also smaller spots that don’t get cleaned as thoroughly like behind/around appliances, and under furniture. These are the areas your new renters will take as a strong indication that your rental is completely clean. For more information about how coronavirus has changed the short-term rental industry, check out our other article here.
1. Switch to Smart Locks
To provide guests with a fully virtual check in experience, some property owners have replaced traditional door locks with smart locks. Tech-enabled smart locks can be unlocked with a code or a virtual key sent to your smartphone. Guests no longer have to keep up with keys, and property managers can change entry codes from their phones. Smart locks help set the tone for your guests' experience. Respecting social distancing guidelines is much easier once you've created a virtual check-in process.
2. Make Your Rental More Accessible
Many short-term rentals are not handicap accessible and therefore may not be an option for travelers that have mobility restrictions. If your home has a ground-level entrance and all of your doorways are at least 32 inches wide, making your home wheelchair accessible could be as easy as building or purchasing a small ramp. Sturdy grab bars for your short-term rental units’ bathroom and shower cost anywhere from $25 - $75 before installation.
3. Make Sure Your Linens Are Luxurious
There’s typically a lot of wear and tear on the linens in a short-term rental. If you’re looking for affordable ways to make your properties bedroom feel more luxurious for your guests, replacing things like the sheets, comforters, or towels instead of the more expensive items like appliances, it is still a good way to refresh your unit. Landlords that want to imitate that perfectly-clean hotel bed feel can also purchase hotel linens from wholesale distributions online. Replacing linens is fairly easy for a property manager and the small details like this will be a strong indicator to your guests that your unit is both safe and luxurious.
4. Replace Mattresses or Mattress Toppers
Mattresses make a huge difference in the overall comfort of a rental. When they’ve gotten old, they can easily turn lumpy or uncomfortable. The last thing you want is a review that says your short-term rental doesn’t have comfortable sleeping quarters since having a place to sleep is the main reason people book a short-term rental. If you are looking for a less expensive option, buy a new mattress topper instead.
5. Upgrade Window Treatments and Add Privacy
The window treatments in your rental are a great way to add style and privacy. You can update the look of your rental with motorized shades and blinds, or add privacy to your rental with heavy-duty blackout curtains. Window treatments are damaged by the sun every day, and after a few years, they’ll certainly be in need of some repair or replacement depending on how you tend to use them. You can take this opportunity to install new curtains or modernize the treatments and give your unit an overall nicer look.
6. Repaint What Fits Your Budget
There are plenty of ways that a fresh coat of paint can completely transform a room, and you can choose what to repaint based on your budget. Whether you’re repainting the walls of the living room or the cabinetry in the bathroom, a fresh paint job makes a huge difference in how beautiful your short-term rental can look. Choose around three complementary colors when picking your palette. Walls are typically 60% of your visual impression of a room, the door, cabinets, and furniture make up around 30% and 10% is based on accessories and accents. Choose the part of your rental that you can repaint within your budget and give your rental a clean, fresh look.
7. Switch to Energy-Efficient Appliances
It’s easy to stick with what works when it comes to appliances. However, as they get older, they become less efficient which can actually cost you money in the long run. If it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded any of the appliances in your rental, or if you’re not using energy-efficient equipment, now might be a good time to consider replacing the appliances in your rental.
If you haven’t upgraded the heating or cooling systems in your rental, you could be losing money on the utility bill alone. It can be a costly process upfront but getting a new system installed needs to happen when your rental is unoccupied. Some states will discount the cost of high-efficiency systems that could reduce that upfront cost and allow property managers to take advantage of reduced cooling costs by 14% per year. This is the perfect opportunity for you to upgrade your heating or cooling system without losing out on revenue from your rental.
8. Create a Coffee or Reading Nook
A coffee or reading nook is a great way to give your rental extra character. Reading nooks present additional seating, but also a small, comfortable getaway for someone in the family be alone. Having space to quietly drink a cup of coffee is desirable for both parents and young adults. Anything that sets your property apart from other options is helpful, but few are as easy or as quaint as a reading nook.
9. Update the Decor
Even if you aren’t making major updates to your short-term rental, you can update the interior design by changing room accents and decor. Consider the overall theme and color palette of your space. Take a look at the latest trends, see what might be outdated, and make some changes to refresh the space. This can include new throw pillows, low-maintenance indoor plants, fun books that fit with the theme of your rental, or new art for the walls that accentuate local landmarks or culture.
10. Create Cozy Outdoor Living Spaces
After being inside for the past few months, outdoor living spaces are going to be a major draw in short-term rentals. If you don’t have an outdoor area now, it’s a great time to consider setting one up. This could be as simple as purchasing outdoor furniture or it could be a little more intense and require some contracting work to build a deck, porch, or patio. Find a spot outside that gets partial sun during the day, and make sure the area is clear and level. Make sure your furniture is not light enough it could become a projectile during a storm, or tie down your furniture to prevent it from blowing away. Creating an outdoor living space for your guests is an investment that will greatly improve the experience if they have to social distance or shelter in place at your unit.
Whatever updates and changes that you make to your living space, don’t forget to update your listing to reflect the changes! You’ll want to take new pictures, update your list of amenities, and add in any new mentions of features or updates to the rental. The competition will be fierce to entice renters when travel returns to normal. To make sure guests choose you above other rentals in the area you’ll want to make sure that they know what they’re getting that your competition doesn’t have. Choosing to make improvements to your short-term rental during this lull in business could help your property rent faster when travel returns to normal.