Whether you bought the property with the intention of renting it out or if it was a family home that you can't bear to part with, rental properties are an investment, so you need to have a clear plan of how you will make money. The cost of improvements needs to be weighed against the income potential. Here are five areas to focus your budget and get the most for your money:

Roofs Are Mandatory

Compared to the other improvements, maintaining a roof is not an option but an essential. A leaky roof can destroy the structure of the home, rendering it unlivable. If you already have tenants in the property, you may be liable for damages to their property or to their health as a result of roof damage. Roof repair or replacement can be costly, depending on the type of roof, but there are several ways to spread it out to avoid high out-of-pockets expenses. In most cases, financing against the equity of the home is one of the best options. Most banks and mortgage lenders have some form of loan for roof repair. Some of the larger, reputable roofing companies have financing options as well.

The Importance of Paint

A new coat of interior paint has both tangible and intangible value. A clean, fresh-looking unit will allow you to charge more for rent. It also shows that you are receptive to tenant needs. Research by Harvard University shows that rental improvements fluctuate erratically over time, unlike new construction that matches national economic indicators. Painting the inside of the house or apartment should be a routine task after any long-term tenant moves out.

The Perennial Plant Value

A yard full of lush grass and thriving plants increases curb appeal and creates a sense of community. These are both significant factors in a prospective tenant’s decision-making process. Landscaping maintenance is also beneficial for tax purposes. According to IRS guidelines, a new landscape installation is a capital expense and not a deduction. Normal upkeep of landscaping is a maintenance expense and can be subtracted from the net income of the property.

Lighting To Make The Home Look New

Upgrading light fixtures and ceiling fans has a two-fold purpose. Ornate brass fixtures can make even the most well-kept home look dated and drab. Upgrading to modern fittings gives the entire space a refreshed look and feel. Lighting also plays a vital role in the visual appeal of the home. Soft lights can make a house seem dark and uninviting. Instead, use brighter lights to drive away the shadows that can make a space feel small. Spotlights also work to focus a potential tenant on key features of the home.

Pests That Eat Your Money

Like roofing, pest control should also be managed at the first sign of an issue. On the onset, a cockroach or rat can be a deal-breaker when renting or selling a home. More significantly, an infestation can harm the structure and value of the property and your tenants have rights of compensation if this happens. Not only should you have the home regularly maintained by a licensed professional exterminator for normal pests like termites, roaches, and vermin, but you should also have him look for any bedbugs, fleas and ticks around the property.