Once you have invested in a property, making it a desirable place to stay or live is the first step in attracting renters.  In my last post I gave an overview of the 3 different options for income properties in Toronto;   Short-term Rentals, Monthly or Seasonal Rentals, and Long-term Rentals.  In this post I will be diving into how to transform and update each type of income property to help stand out from other rentals and maximize profitability!

Short Term Rentals (AirBnB's)

Your guests are here for a good time, not a long time.

The goal here is to provide them with all the comforts of home, while also creating an experience that will keep them (and their friends) coming back again and again. Decorating your property as a short-term rental does not have to break the bank: first and foremost it should be clean, decluttered, and inviting.

Decor: Consider neutral colours for walls, floors and furniture, and have fun with accent pieces and decor. Here you can draw inspiration from the local area for colour and character – think beach vibes if near the coast, farmhouse chic if in the country. Furniture should be simple and durable, easy to clean, and easy to replace if damaged. Less is more here, keep rooms spacious and uncluttered.

Income Property - Rental Decor

Bedroom: Make sure to maximize the number of people your space can sleep by considering trundle beds and/or pull-out couches, provide a spare inflatable mattress (and pump), and have extra pillows and blankets on hand in the closets. Invest in multiples sets of linens – at least 2 sets for each bed, and enough towels for the number of guests your rental can sleep – again, you don’t need to spend a lot, but having a spare set for a quick turnover is a game changer.

Bathroom: Bathrooms should be clean and stocked with spare essentials (toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, etc). I also like to keep on hand, in nice glass containers tucked away on a shelf, elastics, first aid supplies, sanitary products, disposable razors, and anything else people may forget. Be sure to include laundry detergent if there is laundry for them to use.

Kitchen: Kitchens should be stocked with dishware, cups (water, wine, coffee), cutlery, salt & pepper, oil, butter, sugar, and most importantly, good tea and coffee!  You do not need to invest in top of the line appliances for the kitchen, but do make sure to provide guests with a good coffee maker (something with a one-cup option is a nice touch), kettle, and toaster.

Tech: Ensure that you have good, unlimited WIFI and provide passwords and clear instructions for TV, sound systems, and any other electronics they may want to use – I like to supply each room with a WIFI speaker or something like the Amazon Echo Dot in place of an alarm clock.

Lastly, and one of the most important things you will do for your rental, is to prepare a Welcome Package for your guest where you outline any rules or instructions for the property. Be sure to include a small map of the immediate area and highlight some of your favourite spots for food & drink, eat-in and take out. I like to use this opportunity to offer guests a free coffee or croissant at a local coffee shop as this will often be their first stop when they head out to explore and it’s a nice way to make them feel part of the community.

Monthly or Seasonal Rentals

When it comes to monthly or seasonal rentals, it’s all about location!

Large companies, educational institutions, and the film industry often have employees, contractors and consultants stay in Toronto for a few months at a time to complete specific projects; fully furnished properties are typically desired. Setting up a property as a monthly or seasonal rental draws on a lot of the same principals of a short-term rental, but you may want to consider higher end furnishings and finishes when decorating.

Income Property - Rental Decor

Decor: Keep the decor neutral, and furnishings simple yet tasteful. Don’t be afraid to invest in quality furnishings and appliances, as you will attract A-list tenants (think celebrities in town for a film shoot) who appreciate these details.  Ensure that the home is stocked with basic home comforts for everyday use (throw blankets, dish cloths, towels, etc.) as most will come with just enough for their stay.

Bedroom: A quality mattress, extra linens, pillows and blankets. Always a nice touch to have good hangers in closets, and be sure to remove all your personal items from the property so that they can feel completely at home during their stay. If guests are travelling with family, a few toys and games for the kids to occupy themselves with is a nice touch.

Bathroom: Ensure drawers are empty, counters clear, plenty of quality towels in various sizes on hand. Invest in good lighting and a double sink vanity if you have the space. Useful storage containers and cleaning tools (a good plunger and toilet brush is wise to keep on hand) are always wise to have on hand.

Kitchen: An inviting kitchen is where you can create some serious wow-factor for short-term tenants, and it’s worth the investment. You want the kitchen to be clean, organized and well-stocked. Invest in good appliances (fridge, stove, oven), and be sure to include at a minimum: a good coffee maker (include a single cup brew option), kettle, microwave, dishwasher, cooking utensils (good knives, spatulas, measuring tools), and a blender. Provide enough dishware for double the number of guests your rental can sleep, and likewise for cutlery.

Tech: Fast, reliable and unlimited WIFI is a must for any short-term or seasonal rental as many will be working during their stay. Clear instructions for how to use any equipment in the home will be greatly appreciated. Providing a smart tv with access to at least one streaming service is another great add-on to ensuring a comfortable stay.

And again, it is so important to leave your guests with an informative Welcome Package with everything they need to know about the rental property and what you love in the immediate area!

Long-Term Rentals

Long-term rentals provide stability and consistency for an investor and can be a great way to
cover the costs associated with owning an investment property while building equity. Renters
will be using your property as if it was their own, until the time comes for them to move on, and
so it is important to completely remove yourself (and any flamboyant design choices) in order for
potential tenants to see themselves in the space.

Decor: The first thing I recommend to any landlord clients is to do a fresh coat of paint – white paint!  Remember, neutrality is important in order to attract the largest number of potential renters. The second thing I recommended is to have the place professionally cleaned – and make it a deep clean. Keep lighting fixtures tasteful yet simple, and make sure they work! If the property lacks storage, feel free to provide extra shelving in closets or under stairs, but be prepared for the tenants to remove it if they do not like it.

Income Property - Rental Decor

Bedroom: Don’t leave anything behind, not even hangers – the space should be completely clear of any previous residents. A simple set of white curtains/blinds that you are not sorry to part with for privacy and working lights are all that should be provided.

Bathroom: These spaces should be sparkling clean, and should leave no sign of anyone who came before. I like to leave a new shower curtain liner (still creased) and a roll of toilet paper, but that’s it.

Kitchen: Clean and clear! All food should be removed from the fridge and cabinets; this is where you want the cleaners to really focus their efforts. Make sure the lights and appliances all work, that the proper garbage/compost/recycling receptacles are available, and be sure to provide your new tenants with a calendar for garbage pick up as well as a few extra tags for after they move-in.

Tech: People will typically set up their own tech to their specifications, but if there are any systems that exist in the house (including alarm systems), so be sure to leave detailed instructions as to their use. Tenants will be required to set up their own WIFI and cable/phone accounts.

When it comes to long-term rentals, the most important thing is to remove yourself completely.

Invest in good, dependable appliances, invest in warranties, and put systems in place for maintenance year round (HVAC, garden, pest control, etc.), and your design should be clean and neutral.

My top 5 rules for any rental property:

  1. A bright, clean, comfortable space – remove clutter, provide good lighting, and clean
  2. A working space – repair anything you may have gotten comfortable with “as-is”
  3. An efficient place – ensure that systems are in place so that the rental (and subsequent
    turnover) operates smoothly and stress-free
  4. An attractive place – for short term/seasonal rentals, you are creating an experience
    away from home for your guests, it’s the little details that will keep them coming back
  5. A profitable place – you have already made the greatest investment in buying a property, when it comes to setting it up and running it, make sure your money is working just as
    hard as you are.

Be sure to check out my next post –  How to Market Your Rental Property In Toronto.

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