12 Tips for Turning Your Basement into a Rental Property

March 17, 2015 by Michael Brown

Turning Your Basement into a Rental Property

When many homes get built, the owners may opt not to finish the basement. They may put their washer and dryer in the basement and use the rest of the space for storage, but everything else goes upstairs.

Many people plan to finish their basement someday when their family grows, but most leave it as is.If you have a good-sized basement that you rarely use, this might be a good time to turn it into something not only useful but even profitable.

There’s a lot of square footage in a basement that goes to waste if you don’t make good use of it. Think about turning your basement into a rental property that will give you extra cash and create a use for the space that’s been going to waste.

Consider the following 12 ideas as you go about your renovation.

1. Get to know the zoning laws

Get to know the zoning laws

Some cities allow you to do whatever you like with your property, but others require you to undergo certain processes to turn part of it into a rental property. These zoning codes are intended to keep residents safe.

They might include limits on the number of people that are allowed to occupy the apartment, parking requirements, limits on the number of households in one home, and fire escape routes. These codes can hamper your basement apartment plans, but it’s better that you address them before you start renovating than to face a building inspection that requires you to make expensive and time-consuming changes later.

2. Assess your time

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Both renovations and taking on tenants in part of your home are very time-consuming activities. Renovations take time and often entail considerable stress.

You also need to make sure you have allotted sufficient time to market the apartment, give tours to potential tenants, perform a proper tenant screening, and come up with a contract agreement.

If you can’t handle all of this, you may be better off not attempting the renovation in the first place.

3. Decide who’s going to be landlord

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Do you have what it takes to be a landlord? Or should you have a property management company take care of it for you?

Being a landlord involves maintaining the yard and apartment for the tenants, collecting rent, and much more. Many people have found it preferable to outsource to property managers who know how to handle all your landlord duties for a monthly flat fee.

4. Check the plumbing

If you’re planning to rent out your basement, it should include a fully functional kitchen and bathroom, with a washer and dryer preferred. This is all going to depend on the shape of your current plumbing.

The pipes should be fully inspected and fitted for all of your basement plumbing needs. That’s especially important if you haven’t used plumbing in your basement before. You might have corroded pipes and leaks you didn’t know about.

5. Clean it up

This may seem counter intuitive since renovations tend to create a mess, but it’s important to clean up your basement before you make any changes. Obviously, you’ll need to move anything you’ve been storing down there to another location, possibly a separate storage facility.

You should also sweep and dust. Starting clean will allow you to get a better vision of what you can do with the space. It will also help you to spot any problems that need to be addressed, such as mold or leaks.

6. Keep a renter’s perspective

As you plan the renovation, remember that you won’t be the one living in the space, so you shouldn’t necessarily design it according to your tastes. Instead, think about what would be most attractive to prospective renters.

For example, you might want to go with traditional styles and functionality, such as an open concept living area and hardwood floors rather than leaning toward designs that you love now but are likely to change before the year is over.

7. Outside access

Of course, you’ll need to arrange access to the basement from the outside. Many homes are lucky enough to have that access already built in.

Others will require the addition of a door. This is a simple task, but it’s necessary for a successful basement apartment.

8. Dress the walls

Once you’ve put the drywall on the frames, you’ll need to dress the walls in a way that’s attractive to renters. They can use some texture, but not too much.

Also, apply fairly neutral paints or wallpapers to start with. Bright styles will scare some tenants off. If you’re concerned about people liking the color, let your tenants know they can paint the walls if they like.

9. Give your tenant some landscaping

Most of the yard will be yours, but it would be more attractive to potential renters if they had some nicely landscaped ground to themselves. Whether you allow them to use the entire backyard or give them a fenced-off section, this will raise the value of the apartment.

Some flowerbeds and/or a garden plot would be a nice bonus to go with the apartment.

10. Add (more) natural light

Basement apartments are notorious for lacking sufficient light, even if they have a window or three, and that can make them a little depressing and uncomfortable. If you want to attract high-end renters, do whatever you can to increase the natural light.

Some basements are far enough above ground that they’ll admit a sizable window in each room. Others may require window wells. Regardless, large windows that can also serve as emergency exits are a smart installation for a basement apartment.

11. Focus on the kitchen

The kitchen doesn’t need to be large, but it will need some attention. The kitchen is the most used area in any apartment. If your basement kitchen is well designed and functional, renters will love it.

Spend a little extra on your renovation here; go for granite counter tops, an island or bar, and high-end appliances. Skip the vinyl flooring and use tile or hardwood. If the space is planned adequately, the kitchen will be an excellent showpiece for your basement apartment.

12. Glam up the bathroom

The bathroom is the other part of the house that renters will automatically care deeply about. The bathroom(s) in the apartment need to be functional and large enough that tenants don’t feel cramped.

The vanity should offer plenty of storage space and the tub and shower should be spacious with good water pressure. Finished with neutral colors and good lighting, your bathroom can be highly attractive to renters without being too costly.

If you need any advice on your basement renovation, don’t hesitate to call us today. We can offer recommendations on a successful renovation, landscaping, landlord best practices, rent pricing, and property management services to keep your income apartment thriving.

Michael Brown

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