10 Rental Unit Updates with the Highest Return on Investment


When it comes to maximizing the return on investment for rental properties, strategic updates and renovations play a crucial role. By making targeted improvements, landlords can attract quality tenants, increase rental rates, and enhance the overall value of their rental units. In this article, we will explore the top 10 rental unit updates that have consistently shown the highest return on investment, along with some tips for making those updates effectively.

Fresh Paint and Flooring

A cost-effective update with a significant impact is applying fresh paint and updating flooring. Opt for neutral paint colors that appeal to a broad range of tenants. Additionally, consider installing durable and low-maintenance flooring options such as laminate or luxury vinyl, which provide an updated look while being budget-friendly.

Tip: Prioritize high-traffic areas like living rooms, hallways, and kitchens for flooring updates.

Fresh Paint and Flooring

Kitchens are often the focal point for tenants, making kitchen upgrades a wise investment. If a full renovation is not feasible, focus on key elements such as replacing outdated appliances, updating countertops, and upgrading cabinet hardware. These targeted upgrades can give the kitchen a refreshed appearance without incurring excessive costs.

Tip: Look for cost-effective alternatives like resurfacing cabinets instead of completely replacing them.

Bathroom Updates

Bathrooms are another area where targeted updates can yield a high return on investment. Consider replacing fixtures such as faucets, shower-heads, and towel racks. Updating lighting fixtures and mirrors can also provide a modern touch. Ensure proper ventilation and address any plumbing issues for tenant satisfaction.

Tip: Consider replacing outdated tiles or re-grouting existing ones for a fresh look.

Lighting and Fixtures

Updating lighting fixtures throughout the rental unit can significantly enhance its overall ambiance. Opt for energy-efficient options like LED lights and install dimmer switches where possible. Replace outdated fixtures with modern, stylish alternatives to create a more inviting atmosphere.

Tip: Focus on key areas such as living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms for the most impact.

Curb Appeal Enhancements

First impressions matter, and curb appeal can attract quality tenants. Invest in landscaping improvements, fresh exterior paint, updated entry doors, new house numbers, and improved outdoor lighting. These relatively inexpensive updates can instantly boost the property’s value and attract potential renters.

Tip: Keep landscaping low-maintenance with drought-resistant plants and easy-to-maintain greenery.

Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Incorporating energy-efficient upgrades not only reduces utility costs but also appeals to environmentally conscious tenants. Install energy-efficient appliances, upgrade insulation, and consider double-pane windows to enhance energy efficiency. This not only adds value but also attracts tenants seeking eco-friendly options.

Tip: Look for energy-efficient models with high Energy Star ratings for maximum savings.

In-Unit Laundry Facilities

Tenants highly value the convenience of in-unit laundry facilities. If feasible, install a washer and dryer or stackable units within the rental unit. This feature can justify higher rental rates, particularly in areas where communal laundry facilities are the norm.

Tip: If space is limited, consider compact, stackable units to optimize functionality.

Smart Home Features

Integrating smart home technology can make your rental unit more appealing and justify higher rents. Install smart thermostats, keyless entry systems, and voice-controlled assistants to add modern conveniences. These features attract tech-savvy tenants seeking a connected living experience.

Tip: Research affordable smart home options and ensure compatibility with popular smart home ecosystems.

Additional Bedrooms or Living Spaces

Converting existing spaces into additional bedrooms or living areas can significantly increase the rental value. Transforming a den, attic, or large living room into an extra bedroom can allow you to command higher rents,

especially in areas with high demand for larger accommodations.

Tip: Ensure proper egress, ventilation, and legal compliance when adding bedrooms.

Enhanced Security

Investing in security features can provide peace of mind to tenants and justify higher rental rates. Install a monitored alarm system, security cameras, and reinforced entry points to enhance the overall safety of the rental unit. Highlight these features when marketing the property.

Tip: Consider well-lit common areas, motion sensor lighting, and secure locks for added security.


By strategically investing in rental unit updates, landlords can significantly increase their return on investment. Whether it’s fresh paint and flooring, kitchen and bathroom upgrades, or incorporating energy-efficient and smart home features, each update plays a vital role in attracting quality tenants, maximizing rental rates, and enhancing property value. Prioritize updates based on your budget, target market, and local rental trends to ensure the best return on investment for your rental property. Remember to conduct thorough research, plan effectively, and seek professional guidance when needed to make the most of your rental unit updates.


Chad Gipson

Content Director at PortfolioBay