Outdoor spaces are often overlooked. However, outdoor living space is a top rental feature that tenants look for. When it comes to outdoor space, having something is better than nothing.
Especially in urban areas, accessibility to natural light and fresh air from a balcony garden or rooftop is overvalued. By putting a spotlight on outdoor space, you can increase your rental yields if you understand how to make it tenant friendly.
From a tenants perspective, a great outdoor space has:
Outdoor seating provides a cohesive connection from indoor to outdoor. It turns an outside space into a recreational space where a tenant can enjoy a morning coffee or unwind with a glass of wine after work. To reap the benefits of outdoor space, tenants prefer maintenance to be made easy. In fact, communal outdoor spaces can be more appealing to a tenant than private space as they are often maintained by contractors.
Looking after your outdoor space increases your curb appeal. Therefore it’s smart to maintain and improve the outdoor areas of your rental. Focusing on exterior home improvements goes beyond a balcony or a backyard. It’s important to attend to the surfaces in the outside living space of your property. This includes:
Fully furnishing your outdoor space as you would the interior of your property offers tenants an outdoor space ready-for-use. Furniture can be used to zone sections of your outdoor space to separate outdoor cooking and eating areas. If your outdoor space permits, a staple set of balcony garden furniture requires a set of chairs, a table, and a bench. In choosing furniture suitable for outdoor exposure, you'll have sturdy materials like wrought iron and coated aluminum that can resist moisture well. Equally important is furniture that fits the space. Apartments on higher floors can be exposed to high winds so opt for heavier outdoor furniture less likely to fly away.
The windows and doors visible from the exterior of your property enhance the security and appearance of your home. Weather and pollution lead to outdoor wear and tear. Regularly cleaning glass, frames, and casing will reduce debris that can jam windows. Frames should be inspected for signs of moisture infiltration which can result in unsightly rot. Avoid your outdoor doors and window frames looking shabby by re-painting or staining worn down wooden and metal surfaces. To give the outdoor facing windows and doors of your property a facelift, consider a replacement front door. Alternatively, add shutters that can make your windows appear bigger and offer tenants extra privacy.
The access areas surrounding your property can detract value from your apartment building if neglected. Dirt and grime can be washed off your outdoor paving with a pressure washer. To avoid bumpy surfaces reseal unsightly cracks in your driveway. As a bonus, motion-activated outdoor lights also increase security. Tenants want lit entry-ways and well-lit after dark outdoor space for recreational areas.
Summer: Slow growing, drought tolerant shrubs and flowers are an ideal option for rental gardens. During the summer months check for insects or disease in outdoor flowers. Remove deadhead faded flowers and prune back shrubbery. Don’t neglect soil, which will require watering more often in the summer to keep it moist.
Fall: This is the season to store away your outdoor garden furniture and tools in preparation for winter. Keep on top of raking and composting leaves during fall. And plant spring-flowering bulbs, which look most natural when planted in clumps or drifts.
Winter: Check for cracks, crevices or holes around the perimeter of your property that can be an entryway to rodents. Have measures in place for snow removal by providing tenants with snow removal tools, and stocking up on salt to tackle built-up ice. At this time of year drains can clog, so make sure to clean the gutters.
The outdoor space around your rental will be most used during the spring and summer months. The most typical ways in which a rental tenant will make use of outdoor space are:
Who wouldn't want the option to socialize in their outdoor areas? This often involves eating al fresco. Grill areas are popular with tenants for cooking outdoors. However, there can be restrictions in place for grilling outside, like The NYC Fuel Gas Code that prohibits the use of Propane grills.
A majority of tenants like to turn an outside space into an outdoor living room for relaxation. This includes decorating outdoor space with water-resistant outdoor interiors like weather-resistant cushions, outdoor rugs, and soft lighting.
It goes without saying that a balcony or backyard not used to cultivate plants, flowers, vegetables, and herbs is wasted space. Container gardens are popular with tenants for growing edible gardens without having to dig up the soil around your rented home. And planter walls are often used by tenants as a way to decorate a balcony garden.
For starters, rules for smoking in the outdoor areas of your rental can be written into a tenancy agreement. Although smoking outside can prevent the smell of smoke lingering inside your property, precautions must be in place for outdoor smoking. The smell of smoke may enter neighboring apartments, especially in windy areas. And cigarette butts that are not properly disposed of litter the surrounding area of your building and cause a fire hazard.
Outdoor rental space can be a danger zone for children. Child-proof your outdoor areas with fencing and remove patio furniture and planters from the edges of your balcony.
Plants are a way to enhance outdoor space. Yet watering plants on a balcony or patio area can result in liquid seeping into neighboring outdoor apartment areas below. Prevent trickling trails by providing drainage trays. To maximize your outdoor space, group tall and short plant together to create a sense of height.
Tenants in pet-friendly apartments may opt to make use of outdoor space to groom their pet. This can cause pet hair to travel into the outdoor areas of tenants nearby. To avoid airborne debris you can request that tenants groom their pets inside the rental property.
As a landlord, you can encourage your tenants to keep your balcony garden clutter-free. Storage space is a sought-after rental feature. However, your outdoor space should not become an alternative place to store items. Fall is the best season to store outdoor furniture to get a rental ready-for-winter. Make storing furniture manageable by providing tenants with furniture that fold away easily and rolling planters.
Wondering what to do if you have little or no outdoor rental space? Tenants are still attracted to outdoor space in the vicinity of your rental. Highlight your locality to a local park, green space or public recreational area as a selling point to attract tenants.
At Blueground, when we market our listings we make it easy for tenants to view outside space and outdoor amenities close by our apartments with online maps. Our tenants also enjoy the convenience of cleaning on-demand via the mobile application, taking the hassle out of looking after a balcony garden (and, of course, their indoor space). If your interested in how we can market and maintain your property, inside and out, get in touch!