Every renter has their own unique criteria for what they’re looking for in a home. However, there are a few notable features that are always in high demand. Whether you’re a renter who wants to know what options are out there in the market or a property owner who is looking to get more eyes on your listing, here are ten features that are frequently requested by renters today.
For many renters, storage can be a make or break feature – and that’s including storage both inside and outside of the rental property. Inside the unit, renters are looking for closets in the bedrooms and hallways, and preferably some sort of pantry or broom closet. Pre-installed closet organizers in these spaces can be a plus, and make things more attractive on a walkthrough. If it’s a renovated basement suite with no built-in closets, consider installing free-standing storage units and wardrobes, instead.
External storage can also be very important. While most apartments and condos will come with storage lockers, renters looking at basement suites may need to negotiate coveted garage space or bins that can be kept safely and securely outside.
2. Outdoor space
Since many Canadians are spending more time at home, the appeal of outdoor space has never been greater. If you’re not lucky enough to have a private patio or balcony at your rental unit, there’s still hope. Many multi-unit buildings are adding in community gardens, where tenants get a small garden box or part of a larger, shared box, to tend to on their own. We’ve seen these on rooftops as well as on ground level. In rental homes or basement suites, many landlords are gracious enough to share their outdoor space with tenants, or at least have a dedicated space for the renters to use.
3. Office space
The pandemic drastically shifted the needs of renters. That Ikea is warning of a potential shortage of office furniture points to the fact that renters, now more than ever, need a dedicated space to sit down in front of a computer and remain comfortable and engaged while they work or study from home. This has caused the demand for multi-bedroom or bedroom-plus-den rental units to rise. If you’re an owner with a property on the market, consider staging a dedicated home office space to help renters envision themselves working in the space. If you’re a renter that needs a home office, while you scope out where to set up your desk be sure you also ask your prospective landlord about internet speed and capacity to ensure it meets your needs.
4. Noise insulation
Renters today are paying close attention to noise insulation, and noting whether a unit is in a wood-frame building or sits underneath hardwood or laminate flooring is important if you’re noise sensitive. Renters who work or study from home: aside from just asking the landlord about the quality of noise insulation, if you can, try viewing rental space during the day so you can experience it yourself. Owners: consider small, affordable upgrades you can make to the property to make noise more manageable.
5. Heat insulation
Again, as many people now work and study at home, utility bills have been on the rise. Ensuring the rental space has good heat insulation can ensure these bills are reasonable and that the renter is comfortable. This can include properly sealed doors, multi-pane windows, or a variety of other upgrades. Check out our post on energy-efficient features for more ideas on how to properly insulate a home, or what to look out for when you’re rental hunting.
6. Ceiling fans, central air, etc.
On the flip side, many Canadians are no longer able to benefit from the office air conditioning during the hot summer months. So, pay attention to cooling systems such as ceiling fans and central air. If the space doesn’t have either of those, scope out where you might be able to put a window-mounted or portable air conditioning unit in the property.
7. Carpet-free spaces
Even though there are some pros to having carpeted floors in a living area, many renters prefer hardwood or laminate flooring. Along with the style and aesthetic, this type of flooring is easier to clean and more durable, which is important for renters hoping to get back their security deposit. If you’re a homeowner thinking about renovations for your rental property, laminate flooring is a relatively affordable upgrade that can increase the value of and interest in your rental.
8. Kitchen counter space
Depending on the renter, the kitchen might be the most important room in the home. For that reason, many renters pay close attention to the amount of counter space the kitchen has. Ideally, the layout will accommodate a comfortable amount of room, but if not, both renters and homeowners could consider installing an island. You can find reasonably priced temporary and movable islands at stores like Canadian Tire and Rona.
9. In-suite laundry
Very few renters relish the thought of lugging laundry up and down multiple flights of stairs while paying $2.00+ per load, so having in-suite laundry is a huge perk. While this can be a bigger investment for a homeowner to put in a rental property, it does have the potential to up the value for renters who are willing to pay for convenience (and there are many out there!). Stackable machines are a great way to save on space, or deals can be found at appliance outlets stores, where it’s typical to find perfectly operating machines for a discount due to a cosmetic defect like a scratch.
Certain markets (Vancouver being one of them) are notoriously hard for pet owners. While there are many valid reasons a homeowner might not want pets in their rental property, there are also many valid reasons why they should. The BC SPCA offers a few benefits to consider.
First, pet owners are often willing to pay more monthly, in addition to putting down a pet deposit. Second, pet owners typically stay in their rentals for longer, which is one of the most important considerations of any landlord. Third, studies from FIREPAW have shown that there is no significant difference in damage between tenants with and without pets. Renters: even if the unit isn’t listed as pet friendly, don’t be afraid to ask the landlord about this and see if you can come to an agreement, as it could be in the best interest of both parties.