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8 Things a Landlord Can Do to Get the Most Rent in Boston

11 minute read
Boston MA

The longer you spend in Boston real estate, the more ample wisdom and vision on the best Boston apartment leasing practices you'll learn. Owning and managing rental properties in Boston requires a significant amount of skill and finesse. Often, it is a culmination of little enhancements and tweaks that deliver the best returns so that you can keep putting money back into your income-producing properties to keep them ahead for many years to come. Neighborhoods can often change over a decade or less and noticing patterns as well as adapting your leasing practices to the current market conditions will most likely deliver the best returns. Just because Boston has a very low real-time vacancy rate compared to other cities does not mean you should just sit back and wait for customers. Far from sitting on your laurels, you should always be looking to maximize your rents because inflation and expenses continue to climb.

Your success as a landlord in Boston is important to us. No matter where your Boston apartment is located, regardless of bedroom count, or what rent you’re asking for, we have a few solid tips for you.

Renovated apartment

1. Upgrade the Interior.

Your apartment is vacant. The first question you should ask yourself is how is this possible? When the Greater Boston rental market consistently has less than a 1% real-time vacancy rate – you must be doing something very wrong. In life, we either have reasons or results- and real estate life is no different. The oldest, most overused phrase in apartment rentals is “It’s vacant for a reason.” That adage applies today more than at any other time in modern history because we have been undersupplied in housing for numerous years.

Our development policies are so antiquated and inefficient that we can’t ever seem to build enough units to satisfy demand. So it should be quite obvious to you that it might be time to think about doing some upgrades that makes you unit stand out and want to be rented. If your unit has been shown more than 20 times and you haven’t received checks and applications; it’s most likely your price is too high and/or you are not putting in the necessary details to make it attractive compared to other units.

As a landlord, it is time you faced the real estate music. 99% of units in the Greater Boston Area are occupied on any given Sunday. Why is your unit in the 1%? Visit your property with open eyes and start thinking of ways to make it look better. Start putting money into your apartment to allow it to compete in the open marketplace. The bottom line is that you may need to change of some of your thinking and stop peddling “it has charm.” Charm is mostly associated with renters thinking you won’t fix or upgrade things properly as needed.

Boston Pads 3.0

Go explore leading apartment rental websites and see what you are up against.

Try to go avoid national portals that are poorly monitored with lots of fake and outdated listings. Don’t be afraid to call some of the agents on these portals to actually see if the apartment is still available and how long it has been on the market. You want to start gathering your own intel. It could be a very prudent move to find a powerful local website that has the most listings that are easy to verify. When you have real rental information- you will be able to figure out the best pricing practices to know you are in the right price zone. You can also think about how your older worn apartment could capture a higher rent by seeing apartments with similar bedroom counts and sizes in your neighborhood and their prices when they are renovated.

Simply saying to yourself “well it has always rented before” doesn’t apply to today’s market. Perhaps you haven’t upgraded the property in over a decade and everything about it screams “outdated.” Time often goes by quickly for landlords. It is not uncommon to lose track of when the last time they put some working capital into their apartments. The problem can become especially acute when you have had several long term renters for five years or greater and a lot of wear or tear can slowly occur with a low turnover apartment. It’s time look at every aspect of your apartment and what can be done to win.

Boston upgraded interior space

2. Seek the Advice of Leasing Professionals.

Each day your property stays vacant is another potential month of zero rent coming in. If you are unlucky enough to have a vacant apartment – do yourself a favor and do as much possible work as you can while it is vacant. Now is the time to renovate your place to get the most rent in Boston that you can. The bottom line is that apartment seekers love renovated apartments. Do as much as you can afford to do. Most landlords have been deferring upgrades for years because it is hard to work in them while you have tenants. You are vacant and now is perfect time to get it done.

One of the best things you can do as a landlord is ask professionally licensed real estate agents that understand apartment rentals for advice. You want to seek out real estate companies with quality websites and vast search engine presence. They can tell you what they think your unit will rent for if you apply some upgrades. Ask them which upgrades to prioritize. The upward price swings of your potential renovations can be dramatic depending on location and the condition of the unit. Other times, just doing necessary upgrades to compete will put you at the same rent you were getting before, but you will not be vacant anymore.

Apartments for rent

Every day matters to get the best possible rent in Boston.

Seek the advice of professional apartment rental experts that have been in thousands of units. Always seek real estate companies that have their own private property owner portals where you can log in yourself and get real time pricing updates on how your apartment stacks up against the competition. Real estate agents that have the largest real time apartment databases can give you the most professional rental comparisons thanks to real- time rental data. There is also a huge difference in accuracy of pricing between residential real estate offices that primarily do sales vs. rentals.

Nearly all residential sales agents do not have the competency not real time data to give you the proper rents coupled with the optimum lease renewal notification dates to make sure you are achieving the best yields. When in doubt ask how many apartment rentals they have in their database and how many units they have rented in the last ten years. Most residential sales focused companies are probably going to offer you a lower rent so that they can “suggest” selling as a more viable and attractive option. Be leery of anyone that is aggressively pushing you to sell your investment property. You will want to explore all options and understand the market before making any quick moves.

Renovated Kitchen

3. Renovate Your Kitchen.

No matter who you’re looking to attract to your unit, having a nice new kitchen will bring lots of potential tenants. Sleek renovated kitchens always bring interest to an apartment. Even if you can’t renovate an entire apartment, the kitchen is a great place to start. Most of the leading apartment pictures on real estate websites start with either the kitchen or the living room. It’s one of the biggest click draws you see when people scroll through apartment galleries. Spend a little bit extra on your kitchen design. Avoid the cheaper white appliances and put in the stainless steel fit and finish to make it pop. Spend the extra several hundred dollars and have that refrigerator with the ice maker and water line in the unit. When in doubt spend a little bit more and it will work in your favor. Overtime you will find it was well worth the money. You will find it attracts tenants a lot quicker and they stay longer.

Bathroom upgraded

4. Renovate Your Bathroom.

Another room that’s important to tenants is the bathroom. People love having a sparkly new bathroom and it can make the whole apartment feel more new. Bathroom renovations can be less expensive than updating a living room or fitting a washer/ dryer into the apartment. It’s a good first step to getting more renters interested in your place. If you are pressed for money, at minimum switch out all the older lighting and vanity to make the bathroom seem like it is getting some attention. Nothing screams outdated and neglected than those decade old light fixtures.

Boston apartment hallway

5. Keep Up on What Seems Like the Little Things.

Keeping the inside of your property well-maintained can make it stand out from any other apartments potential renters could be looking at. Make sure to get your place professionally cleaned before tenants, call in painters when necessary, and keep an eye on leaky windows and doors.

You want to pay attention to the common areas. For example, many tenants simply do not pick up their mail anymore and leave it there to pile up. You want to get a handle on that and talk with existing tenants in the building. Ask them to maintain their mail properly rather than just leave it laying around. Previous tenants sometimes do not put a proper change of address. This leaves you to sometimes find very old mail arriving that you want returned to the post office. It’s often a good idea to contact your previous tenants and let them know that it might be prudent to have their mail forwarded to their new location. Don’t be afraid to bring several trash bags with you in your vehicle at all times to make those quick pickups of unexpected messes you can find.

Tenants will be impressed if they enter a house without any issues, and this can save you from a headache later on. If these things aren’t addressed before someone moves in, there’s a chance that they’ll ask you to fix them later on. It’s a good idea to get ahead of the curve and make any repairs before someone new moves in. It’s always a lot easier to fix a property when it is vacant than have to work around the schedule of someone that has to work from home. If you happen to be at the showing with the prospective renters – it never hurts to ask them if there anything they might like done to the property. Asking tenants what they like and don’t like about the property can often stimulate a deal to occur. “We love the location and price; but those floors need to be sanded” – and that could be the very thing you are willing to do to get it rented immediately. Never be afraid to ask – if you hear the same thing over and over – chances are you should simply take their advice and make it happen. Showing your property over and over is not time nor money efficient.

Cleaned Up Outside of Property

6. Upgrade the Outside of Your Building.

Keeping the outside of your building up to date and clean will make tenants more excited about moving it. With a sparkly clean outside, potential renters will feel better about the inside of the apartment before even stepping in. You can build a lot of confidence just by maintaining the outside appearance, including the front yard and the sidewalk. It doesn’t take much effort to swing by your property once in a while just see if any trash or other objects have littered the yard. If it is a larger multifamily building, you can also make sure that the barrels are in the correct location and are not overflowing with trash. It’s often the most obvious things that you barely think about that can make a difference when tenants out there have so many options.

Boston apartments

7. Put Laundry in the Apartment.

The direction of renovated apartments tilts towards putting laundry in the unit. More often than not we see landlords doing away with pantries and adding in a half bath with laundry to make it more modern and time efficient for tenants. When you add laundry to a unit you automatically get a huge advantage over a lot of the other apartments in Boston. At minimum put laundry in the basement if you can. Tenants have little interest in having to carry or drive their laundry all the way to a business to complete this task. This is especially true during the wintertime. Do yourself and your tenants a huge favor, spend the money and put in laundry. Even if you have to put coin operated laundry in the basement they will appreciate you. Let’s be candid; how long would you put up with going to the laundromat? Could you see yourself going to the laundromat for longer than two years? I bet your are saying to yourself – NO. Well think through that one. If it doesn’t work for you – then it probably doesn’t work for your tenant which is why you have a higher turnover and possibly contributing to why you have a vacancy.

Backyard

8. Maximize Your Outdoor Space.

Not every apartment has an outdoor space, so if your building has one you should take advantage of it. Making the space more appealing will draw more potential renters in, so don’t waste an opportunity. Depending on what kind of space you have, you can dress it up or do something as simple as putting up a fence. You should make sure any grassy areas are professionally landscaped, or add seating around the outside of any enclosed areas. Don’t forget that tenants will happily pay a little extra for a private area, especially with everyone stuck inside these days, so make the area feel secluded if you can. If you can’t find reliable landscapers, consider getting artificial grass, it has come a long way in the last few years. You will also want to buy slow growth, low water and minimal maintenance plants.

Get the Best Rent in Boston With a Few Simple Changes!

And there you have it! These tips might seem expensive and/or time consuming, but we promise they’ll pay off in the long run. As the largest apartment leasing team in the history of New England. We’ve helped thousands of landlords rent apartments all across Greater Boston and beyond. If you are looking for an experienced real estate professional to help you figure out what could work best to help you get rented, please feel free to contact us for more information!


Demetrios Salpoglou

Demetrios Salpoglou

Published March 11, 2024

Demetrios Salpoglou is the CEO of bostonpads.com which is an information and technology based services company that provides cutting edge resources to real estate companies. Demetrios has developed over 90 real estate related websites and owns hundreds of domain names. Demetrios also owns and operates six leading real estate offices with over 120 agents.



Demetrios has pulled together the largest apartment leasing team in the Greater Boston Area and is responsible for procuring more apartment rentals than anyone in New England – with over 130k people finding their housing through his services. Demetrios is an avid real estate developer, peak performance trainer, educator, guest lecturer and motivational speaker.