Tiny homes are all the rage right now. Measuring, on average, between 100 and 400 square feet, tiny homes have lowered barriers to home ownership by making housing more affordable and environmentally friendly. But is there a marketplace for tiny home rentals? As these homes pop up across the country, more landlords are considering turning these small investments into big profits.
Houston’s Tiny Homes
The Houston area is already home to several tiny houses and Texas, more generally, is playing host to several tiny home developers. Texas Tiny Home Solutions sells small, custom houses as well as pre-built homes under 400 feet from a licensed manufacturer. There’s also Pratt Homes and Nomad Tiny Homes, among others. As a landlord, then, you have the opportunity to purchase work by local designers at a reasonable price.
Some analysts have expressed concerns that the tiny home trend will be short-lived but if you’re interested in investing in these miniature residences, the consensus is that tiny homes are here to stay. While some of the cachet may wear off, tiny homes solve a number of modern problems, including issues of space, sustainability, and economics.
Tiny Homes As Rentals
As a landlord, there are several ways to make tiny homes into appealing rentals and Houston with its large student population and growing tech industry is an ideal place to do it. Both groups are major players in the tiny house trend but may not be looking for permanent lodgings. Tiny homes may also appeal to snowbirds and tourists seeking short-term rentals.
If you’ve invested in tiny homes, these strategies can help you build a tenant base and turn your tiny properties into someone’s dream home.
- Long-Term Or Short-Term? The first thing you need to decide about your tiny homes is whether you want to market them as short-term residences for tourists or seasonal visitors or if you want to establish more permanent tenancy. If you’re interested in more permanent residents, reach out to your local student community. Board in college dorms is expensive and apartments in the Houston area don’t come cheap, so many students view tiny homes as a way to save money and gain independence. They’re more aesthetically appealing than a studio apartment and feel more like a home than a residence. Landlords interested in renting their tiny homes for shorter periods of time should consider several factors. First, snowbirds often seek out rentals for several months at a time. Advertise your property in feeder regions so that these annual visitors can get their housing arrangements in order. For summer rentals, look for connections on the festival circuit and around other local events. Visitors are most likely to seek housing via Airbnb and other home sharing services for these events, so share your rental opportunities there.
- Learn The Code
Tiny homes are often held to different housing code standards than traditional structures so it’s important to research your local regulations before investing in and renting out tiny homes. One of the leading factors that can cause trouble is if your tiny home is on wheels. If you’re purchasing tiny homes as rentals, it’s unlikely they’ll be on wheels since portable tiny homes are generally designed for permanent residents who want to stay on the move. It’s more likely you’ll encounter problems under regulations for auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs), a category typically used to regulate guesthouses and on-property cottages, not tiny homes. The specific issue is that tiny homes typically fall below the mandatory square foot size of an ADU and in many areas, ADUs are not permitted to occupy their own property. For more detailed information about housing regulations, contact your local government. They can tell you where tiny homes are permitted and what additional restrictions apply.
- Stage It Right
Staging is an important part of renting any home, but with a tiny house the process is a little more difficult. In addition to eliminating clutter and giving the space a minimalist look, you need to find the perfect multi-purpose furnishings. People don’t want to live in a tiny home if they think it will mean being deprived of their favorite luxuries or having no storage space. If you’re renting to students or travelers, you’ll also want to consider leaving furnishings in place and charging for furniture rental as your tenants may not have appropriate pieces of their own. Be sure to keep tiny homes well-lit when they’re being shown as small spaces tend to feel claustrophobic. Ditch the heavy blinds, turn on the lights, and decorate in lighter colors that make the rooms feel spacious.
- Make It Green
Finally, don’t forget that many people interested in tiny homes are concerned about their environmental footprint so emphasize eco-friendly design with these properties. They want to see structures designed from sustainable materials, basic smart home technology to reduce energy waste, and added features like solar panels. As an owner, you also benefit from applying eco-friendly principals to your properties. Solar powered buildings, for example, have low or no energy costs, cutting your expenses during periods of vacancy and the profit margins on sustainable structures are often higher because they reach a specialized audience. Ultimately, the tiny home movement is fundamentally linked to a call for greater environmental responsibility and that connection should be integrated into your design and marketing choices at every level.
Get Help With Your Tiny Homes
Juggling properties and tenants is a big job no matter how tiny the homes and no one should have to do it alone. If you’re a Houston area landlord, contact Green Residential today to learn how we can meet your property management needs. With over 30 years of experience serving the Greater Houston Area, Green Residential provides a deep understanding of the rental market as well as 24/7 customer service, property maintenance, tenant screening, and more.
Properties that enjoy comprehensive management are more profitable and report greater client satisfaction and lower renter turnover than independently managed sites, so why not give your tiny homes a boost? They may be small but Green Residential can help make your properties major players in the competitive Houston real estate market.