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Rental house advice
Old 03-30-2016, 10:48 PM   #1
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Rental house advice

Hi landlords out there - I am updating a small rental house (just under 1,000 sq. ft.) in Seattle and would like to get some ideas on keeping it low maintenance:

1) What is the best flooring to use in the house. It currently has carpet in all rooms except kitchen and bathroom, which have linoleum. Seems everyone now prefers wood or laminate that looks like wood. I want to keep costs low, so don't want to use hardwood.

2) House has very small yard in front, sloping toward the sidewalk. Any ideas on low maintenance landscaping? Most tenants don't like to mow the grass and do upkeep. Anyone have any experience with the artificial grass I've heard about?

Thanks in advance for any tips or advice.
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Rental house advice
Old 03-30-2016, 11:03 PM   #2
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Rental house advice

Hi landlords out there - I am updating a small rental house (just under 1,000 sq. ft.) in Seattle and would like to get some ideas on keeping it low maintenance:

1) What is the best flooring to use in the house. It currently has carpet in all rooms except kitchen and bathroom, which have linoleum. Seems everyone now prefers wood or laminate that looks like wood. I want to keep costs low, so don't want to use hardwood.

2) House has very small yard in front, sloping toward the sidewalk. Any ideas on low maintenance landscaping? Most tenants don't like to mow the grass and do upkeep. Anyone have any experience with the artificial grass I've heard about?

Thanks in advance for any tips or advice.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:30 PM   #3
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go with laminate, its more durable than wood. Wood would get scratched up in no time and require refinishing.

I personally let my tenants mow.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:52 PM   #4
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Cactus is low maintenance.


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Old 03-31-2016, 12:15 AM   #5
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I have used that recycled rubber mulch - looks like bark you can buy it home depot or lowes - smells like rubber the first week it is put out, smell goes away, but the bark look lasts years
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Old 03-31-2016, 08:03 AM   #6
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Low maintenance flooring = Laminate everywhere except bedrooms.
Paint = Semi-gloss on all walls. One color for all walls. One color for all trim.
Low maintenance yard = grass. Hire a mowing service.

#1 word for higher profitability and low maintenance, STAY AWAY FROM LOW QUALITY TENANTS. Keep credit scores above ~625, for ALL occupants, even the 18 year old kid.

I could go on for an 8+ hour course on tenant screening and how to get good tenants, but most landlords already know it. And then I buy properties from them when they go broke... Many property flips are landlords that went broke and an investor bought the home.
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Old 03-31-2016, 09:05 AM   #7
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Cactus is low maintenance.


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Yeah! and stick out some agaves and that stuff spreads over a few years - keeps the tenants inside, burglars at bay, and the tax man in his car away from the windows.

Oops. Seattle. substitute blackberry bushes.
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Old 03-31-2016, 09:14 AM   #8
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Another duplicate post is here...
Rental house advice

Here is my advice.

Low maintenance flooring = Laminate everywhere except bedrooms.
Paint = Semi-gloss on all walls. One color for all walls. One color for all trim.
Low maintenance yard = grass. Hire a mowing service.

#1 word for higher profitability and low maintenance, STAY AWAY FROM LOW QUALITY TENANTS. Keep credit scores above ~625, for ALL occupants, even the 18 year old kid.

I could go on for an 8+ hour course on tenant screening and how to get good tenants, but most landlords already know it. And then I buy properties from them when they go broke... Many property flips are landlords that went broke and an investor bought the home.
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Old 03-31-2016, 09:22 AM   #9
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The mandatory tax law of depreciation is bad for landlords when the landlords marginal tax rate is below 25%.
So once a person retires, this effect starts to build up an extra tax liability each year.
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:00 AM   #10
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Thanks for the advice, Senator. I didn't see the related threads at the bottom of the page until now, and I will read those as well.
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:03 AM   #11
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Re: artificial turf: If there is a HOA, they will have rules about what you can plant in the front yard. We found that some tenants will mow small areas of turf, but none will do anything beyond that. You can either water/fertilize/de-weed it yourself, or hire someone to do it (landscaping cost is part of rent).

Ask your local nursery about low-maintenance shrubbery for your area. Put in the bare minimum of shrubbery to look decent. Don't let tenants plant shrubs, flowers, etc. or put in any kind of decorative pavers, spacers, whatsoever. They will pick things the HOA doesn't like, and then forget to water the plants. Then you will have to remove it all at your expense.

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Old 03-31-2016, 12:14 PM   #12
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Merged with the other thread, same topic.
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:43 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by calmloki View Post
Yeah! and stick out some agaves and that stuff spreads over a few years - keeps the tenants inside, burglars at bay, and the tax man in his car away from the windows.

Oops. Seattle. substitute blackberry bushes.

There are different kind of cactus. I don't have any that would hurt anybody, they are great for xeriscape. I have Korean grass, lavender, Mexican heather, thyme, none requires cutting. And it's been 3 years now.


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Old 03-31-2016, 03:06 PM   #14
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Great ideas everybody!

Fedup: I will check out those no-cut plants you mentioned. Maybe do some rockery with "hens & chicks", too.

NotKevin: Wow! I didn't even know they had such a product as rubber mulch - very interested in that 'cuz it sounds really low-maintenance. Gotta check it out!

Small house, so laminate floors it shall be for all the rooms, even the 2 small bedrooms. I was thinking the tenants can get large area rugs if they want to make it feel more cozy, plus they can pick whatever color/pattern they want.

Oh, thanks for the laughs, too! Traditional cactus in rainy overcast Seattle will not work. And I will beware of any creeping blackberry that tries to sneak into the yard. Hard to get rid of that stuff up here once it takes hold.
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Old 04-04-2016, 01:33 PM   #15
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Great ideas everybody!


Small house, so laminate floors it shall be for all the rooms, even the 2 small bedrooms. I was thinking the tenants can get large area rugs if they want to make it feel more cozy, plus they can pick whatever color/pattern they want.

Oh, thanks for the laughs, too! Traditional cactus in rainy overcast Seattle will not work. And I will beware of any creeping blackberry that tries to sneak into the yard. Hard to get rid of that stuff up here once it takes hold.
Here is my 2 cents based on residential and commercial rentals I own;
Laminate not so good. I installed Commercial grade Pergo which did not hold up in a small clinic we own, but lasted >10 years. In error, I installed some Costco grade laminate about 1 year ago, it absorbs water on the edges and is not looking pretty. I am planning on tearing it out and using LVT.

In the residential property carpets get trashed in 5 years, hardwood floors get ruts in them from tenants lack of care with furnishings.

Solution, I am currently installing 1500 sqft of LVT commercial grade plank. The Shaw product retails for $8/ft, I negotiated $3.10/ft. I am installing it over cork with a double glue down in high traffic. However, this product can be loose laid fit tight or perimeter glued. It is awesome looking and I would highly recommend it for residential everywhere. Since you can loose lay it, if one tile is damaged you can replace it easily. You can go modern slate look or wood. Glue down is essential for commercial, but has a 20 year Warrranty.

We live in Seattle area as well. I put in new sod at my one rental 2 years ago and the tenant let it go to weeds, but mows occasionally. I like beauty bark, which can be raked out, or added to each year. The rubber stuff is pretty pricey. Bark is about $28/yard delivered.
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Old 04-04-2016, 01:47 PM   #16
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Here is my 2 cents based on residential and commercial rentals I own;
Laminate not so good. I installed Commercial grade Pergo which did not hold up in a small clinic we own, but lasted >10 years. In error, I installed some Costco grade laminate about 1 year ago, it absorbs water on the edges and is not looking pretty. I am planning on tearing it out and using LVT.

In the residential property carpets get trashed in 5 years, hardwood floors get ruts in them from tenants lack of care with furnishings.
I am in the process of a major remodel myself now. Replacing the laminate, and I may go with the vinyl as an experiment on this one. Water is a laminate killer, as you have said.

I have use the Allure vinyl tile look-alike for a couple of kitchens. It seems to work great. Maybe the oak-look vinyl planks will work as well.

It is about 2x as expensive as my laminates, but should be easier to install. Less sawdust too.
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Old 04-04-2016, 02:14 PM   #17
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I am in the process of a major remodel myself now. Replacing the laminate, and I may go with the vinyl as an experiment on this one. Water is a laminate killer, as you have said.

I have use the Allure vinyl tile look-alike for a couple of kitchens. It seems to work great. Maybe the oak-look vinyl planks will work as well.

It is about 2x as expensive as my laminates, but should be easier to install. Less sawdust too.
After 9 years my tenant is moving out....I'm sad to see her go because she paid on time and looked after the place. But she has a job offer in Idaho and what she pays in rent in Boston will pay a mortgage on a nice home in Boise. So I am renovating the 1960s bathroom and kitchen. The bathroom floor will be tile and the kitchen will be hardwood to match the rest of the apartment.

I have had no trouble in finding excellent tenants over the 20 years I've been a landlord from local college housing offices and Craigslist. I ask for a couple of references and talk to their employer.
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:48 PM   #18
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Put vinyl tile (or Luxury Vinyl Tile - LVT ) in the kitchen and bathroom , as water will destroy laminate flooring.
They make great LVT now, even the 12x12 tiles are thicker than the cheap ones and you can put grout between them just like ceramic tiles if you want.
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:03 AM   #19
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Hey. I'm going to check out LVT. We have tile in the kitchen and a few are cracked. Thanks for the tips.

Senator is one of our Real Estate experts. His advice is wise.
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:27 AM   #20
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Thanks to Happyras for the tip about LVT planks. Did some research on it and found lots of good reviews on this stuff. Will check out the Shaw products and Allure brand. LVT, being water resistant/water-proof, definitely sounds better than laminate for kitchen/bathroom. At one time I was thinking of ceramic tile for kitchen/bathroom, but you have to use grout which gets stained, and I don't like that. LVT would feel "warmer and softer", especially in cool grey Seattle. Great advice!
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