"Going Green" is now the popular thing to do to help save the planet and make it more productive for everyone. It might surprise you that it could also help improve the bottom line of your investment property as well. By improving or adding a variety of maintenance items, you can 1) save dollars during vacancies 2) use some as marketing incentives 3) attract better tenancy 4) promote tenant retention 5) avoid serious risks.
Take the time to review your investment property and see if any of the following items would be beneficial to both helping the planet and increasing your return on investment (ROI).
Add energy-saving incentives and savings
With the increase in gasoline, food, and utilities, millions of Americans are looking for ways to save. There are incentives that may attract tenants if they feel they may help them with their utility bills.
- Install ceiling fans with a switch that changes the airflow direction - residents can benefit from this when seasons change.
- Change light bulbs, such as porch lights, vanity lights, and fluorescent bulbs in kitchens, with new energy saving replacements.
- Weatherize doors and windows with weather stripping. Ensure they adequately close to avoid loss of heating and air-conditioning.
- Provide adequate insulation throughout the property.
- Provide attic ventilation to remove hot air to help keep air-conditioning bills down.
- Plug drafty areas throughout the residence.
- Replace old water heaters with the new energy efficient models when appropriate.
- Replace old appliances, if applicable, such as washers, dryers, and refrigerators with new energy efficient ones.
- Add low-flow showerheads and faucets to reduce water waste.
- Install low maintenance landscape and timed irrigation systems to maintain plants and reduce unnecessary water usage.
Not only will the above items reduce utilities, they are also tax deductible. You want good tenancy and the good tenants look for the best properties. If a property shows care and concern for their welfare, it will help attract the quality of tenants that you want. Many of these items will also help to reduce costs when the property is vacant and it is the property owner's turn to pay the bills until rented.
Avoid areas of risk
Many of the items above may already reduce some risk. However, there are certain high areas of risk in property management to avoid for obvious reasons and at the same time, reduce a lot of unnecessary waste.
- Running water: avoiding water waste both inside and outside a property is a key area to reduce waste of a necessary resource and to avoid serious risks. No tenant is happy with a running toilet or leaking faucets. If maintenance deteriorates and their water bill increases, it could inspire them to move. In addition, standing water can lead to mold, one of the highest risk factors today in owning and renting property. Settlements of lawsuits are often in the millions when awarded for negligence regarding mold.
- Heating and air-conditioning: have yearly inspections on heating and air-conditioning units to promote preventative maintenance and avoid costly bills. If necessary, replace units or parts to supply necessary heat and air. This will avoid another area where losses in court can be devastating.
- Lead-based paint removal: if built before January 1, 1978, it is a government requirement to remove lead-based paint properly and inform tenants in writing. Proper disposal of the paint is important environmentally and to protect your investment.
- Replace old electrical and remove outdated electrical strips. Install adequate covers on outlets to reduce drafts. Repair or replace smoke detectors.
- If applicable, have yearly chimney inspections. Make sure flues close properly to avoid drafts as well as loss of heating and air-conditioning.
Perhaps many of these items are already in place, you may need a few changes, or none at all. It is important to reflect on the welfare of your property and your tenants. Then, if it can also help reduce global warming and work toward saving our planet, the picture is even better.