What would you guys want in an apartment?

MaryNYFebruary 28, 2004

We are putting a one bedroom apartment in our house (1 queen size bedroom, kitchenette, living room, bath with tub, diswasher and washer/dryer). We live in an area where we can ask a high rent, but I want to make sure we are being fair. What do you apartmet-dwellers look for in a nice apartment. We are gutting the area and buying everything, so it will all be brand new. Anything I am missing?


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Speaking as a landlord:

Layout is CRITICAL ... make sure the living space "flows" so the tenant isn't running wierd routes to get to things. It's nice to make sure the bathroom is accessible without going through the bedrom (privacy issue if someone is sleeping and a guest wants to use it).

Skip any fancy stuff (granite, imported appliances, faux finishes) and go for basic mid-range appliances that are reliable and easy to use (think really legible controls, not loaded with options) and easy to clean. Select surfaces (counters, flooring, shower surround) that are easy to clean and capable of standing up to the abuse tenants will inflict (think of them as toddlers - some are great, others are careless).

**** Maximize storage with good closet arrangements, ample medicine cabinets, etc. If you can provide a locking storage area for the tenant outside the apartment, it's even better. Make sure there's a coat storage close to the entry, etc. Ask on the "organizing the home" forum for ideas. And make the most of built-in storage ... tenants usually love them.

You can then afford to keep the rent below the area average and pick and choose from your tenants.

Think "light, bright and airy" with the selection of surfaces and colors. Think "doesn't show every track" flooring.

And be sure to get and read all the laws dealing with residential landlord rights and responsibilities. Get security deposits! Do walk-throughs with the tenants.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2004 at 11:43AM
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Keep in mind I own a condo now but I was always an appt. gal before the condo.
Don't let it look like an appt.
Most appt walls are white. Most have no borders or chair rails..most have ugly light fixtures... and the cheapest too.
You can get some white paint but then put up a border mid wall. Or paint white walls and tape off a few lines for a different color of paint to make a border of lines.
Or get colored paint. Nothing ghastly.
Or put a few accent tiles up in the kitchen back splash instead of all blue or all cream. A fancy tile is 1.50 $ buy 6...your done. Put in a ceiling light that has a touch of stain glass or bit of border accent color, to name a few.
Just a few simple touches a land lord could do to make people think this is my home..not appt.
I never ever looked at my appt as an appt...it was home.
Also. Our last appt. had sea foam green carpet and real wood stained cherry baseboards and door frames etc.
One bay window.
Every one who came over could not believe our appt was just that...an appt.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2004 at 4:19PM
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walls that you can't hear the neighbor through when he pees

    Bookmark   March 2, 2004 at 8:58AM
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I second Katel. Soundproofing in the walls between your house and the apartment is essential--for both of you.

I always look for enough kitchen storage--not only are there enough cabinets, but is the space in the cabinets usable? I've had enormous cabinets that had a lot of wasted space, and cabinets where the shelves were all 8.5 inches apart, so many things were hard to fit in.

Other storage is important. I don't think there can be too many closets--remember, what a homeowner puts in an attic or cellar, an apartment dweller must fit in the apartment somewhere. Where would someone store Christmas decorations, for example? or camping gear? or a sewing machine? If possible, a large walk-in closet with a combination of hanging space and shelves would be ideal.

I'm afraid I disagree with diydana. While I want my apartment to look like my home, I all ready have furniture and artwork that I want to use. I think keeping a neutral color palette (and that doesn't have to mean white everywhere) is generally best. You can paint the walls a beige or taupe that a) won't be white and b) won't show as much dirt and c) will still be neutral enough for most tenants. You might want to consider letting the tenant paint the walls. You can require that both the color and the kind of paint be approved by you.

On the other hand, diydana had a good point about adding some architechural interest if at all possible. I admit I rented my current apartment, carved out of a house built in 1820, in large part because it has a bay window, two fireplaces (that I'm not allowed to use), hardwood floors, great baseboard and crown molding and huge windows. It's a little quirky and doesn't have much storage in the apartment, but I do have a basement lock-up that makes up for that.

A bathroom big enough for a tub, not just a shower--which I see you are doing. A bathroom sink with a vanity cabinet--that storage thing again. A linen closet would be a luxury.

Oddly enough, even the cheapest landlords I've had, and I've had some doozies, have self-defrosting refrigerators in the kitchens. Apparently, a lot of people just never defrost the freezer.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2004 at 1:34PM
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camlan -
"Oddly enough, even the cheapest landlords I've had, and I've had some doozies, have self-defrosting refrigerators in the kitchens. Apparently, a lot of people just never defrost the freezer."

Right, which ruins the compressor bcause of the ice buildup. Or, if they do defrost, they try to gouge out the ice with a screwdriver and puncture one of the coils or make a hole in the freezer compartment. Both of those are expensive for the tenant, and a hassle for the landlord. The extre money for a self-defriosting one is minor. And as one of the cheapskate landlords, I buy used appliances anyway, so the cost is even less.

Same with things with pilot lights: I would never buy a stove or dryer with a pilot light because tenants can't be trusted to know how to use them. I always get the electronic ignition for anything I can.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2004 at 6:28AM
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    Bookmark   March 3, 2004 at 7:35PM
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Soundproofing is ESSENTIAL. I hear my landlords (my aunt and uncle) above me every day, and my downstairs neighbors (my cousin and his girlfriend) hear us. While I obviously don't want to say anything about it, never again will I rent or buy a place that has upstairs or downstairs neighbors. I guess I enjoy my privacy as much as Don!

Also, I love my hardwood floors. They're more healthy for us allergy sufferers than carpet and they look great. Just make sure they're installed correctly so they don't creak. My apartment is old, so it's a given that that will happen, but never again....

Access to a deck or outside space is a big bonus for some people as well. I'd love to have a garden of some sort, but I'm restricted to window planters. And regarding the upgrades, I have plain, middle of the road counters but recently got a granite-topped island and I love it! Some little things do make an impression. I have huge windows in a huge living room so a bench would have been nice as well. Sort of like built-in furniture. Granted, it would have to be made of very sturdy wood to last! And lately I've been getting the itch to get rid of all the white walls. Being able to paint would be a relief. I wouldn't mind repainting it white when we leave, or running my choices past my landlords before painting, but my boyfriend won't let me!

If you can't tell, we're going to be buying something soon....

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2004 at 2:20PM
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I appreciate all the responses. They were filled with great advice. We worked on the layout and included alot of closets. We already looked into soundproofing. Privacy is not an issue due to the setup of the house. Unfortunately granite countertops and hardwood floors are not in the budget, but we will be putting up molding and painting in nice nuetrals (I agree-no white!). Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2004 at 9:16PM
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i must admit that nuetrals are best.
i guess i was going on the thinking that the low life live in apts for the most part. i really have always had crappy neighbors that fight, beat or drink and live like scum.
did i say that out loud?
i know that good exists i guess i was thinking glass half empty.
for all you good apt people let it rub off on the not so good.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2004 at 6:50PM
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Make sure there is really good ventilation in the kitchen. My current apartment doesn't have a vent fan, so every time I sear food, my kitchen fills with smoke- if I put the microwave fan on, it just blows it into the smoke detector. Spring for a good exhaust fan in your stove, or make sure there is great cross-ventilation. You don't want the smoke alarm going off evertime they cook something.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2004 at 12:02AM
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: ) hardwood floors everywhere but the bedroom.


the right to paint, within reason (this is critial for me, and will not rent from someone who just says 'no painting'...only one ever asked me to paint over it when I left, several have kicked me back money on the rent for painting, and at the last one doubled the rent when I left- I'd also painted the front door and the porch columns, and done some no-maintenance gardening out front)

black-out shades in the bedroom are a plus... neutral curtians and nice hardware... gives a tenant the option of dressing up the windows a bit more, wihtout having them gouging up the woodwork trying to install their own hardware.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2004 at 2:18PM
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Molding, any kind of molding, will make an apartment-dweller drool.

Countertops and faucets and doorknobs that are not the cheapest-at-Home-Depot do wonders for the feel of the place. I'm not saying that you need to spend the big bucks; anything with a little style! Light fixtures are important, too. NOTHING with brass on it! No faux-crystal plastic knobs on the faucets, either.

Closets are great. A private entryway with room for a few pots of plants would be a dream. A private outdoor area would be out of this world.

I'd agree that letting the tenants individualize the space will do wonders toward 1) getting a tenant that cares for the space and 2) keeping someone once they've put effort into getting their space just the way they want it.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 1:01PM
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If there's an appropriate nook in your plans, any kind of built-in bookcase or display area would be very, very attractive. I wouldn't build in an entertainment center-- most apt. dwellers would have that furniture already-- but everybody wants extra display space.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 1:06PM
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Any apartment I have ever rented, never seemed to have enough electrical outlets, so having extra outlets would be a must! Of course, I never rented in any building that was less than 75 years old!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 11:28PM
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I agree that soundproofing is important. Since you're gutting the space (I assume that means plaster is being pulled out?) then now is a great time to install insulation between the walls. Not only does it cut down on noise but it allows you to set your heating at different levels. You may also want to insulate the ceiling, even if it's upstairs, as sound and heat will escape in to the rest of the house through there. And the floor could be improved too. This isn't the cheapest option, but it will last the life of the building when installed correctly, and being able to say it's a fully soundproofed apartment will make it very attractive to renters.

I've soundproofed several rooms/walls in my house. My house is a crazy mixture of brick and stud internal walls. I soundproofed the kitchen as it's a noisy room, and I did the bedroom and main bathroom. Untill you've lived in a house with soundproofed walls, you really cannot apreciate the calm silence it creates. Of course I still hear the house and activity around me, but it's pleasantly muted and inoffensive.

Another good choice would be quiet flushing toilets. There's something nice about pulling the chain and *not* waking up the whole house... If you allready intend to replace the toilet, it makes sense to buy a quiet one.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2004 at 6:44AM
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clean, clean clean

and in suite laundry...

    Bookmark   July 15, 2004 at 12:42AM
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Soundproofing and white walls. Not off-white or antique-white, but white-white. Goes with everything. Oh, and a little storage space, or extra closet.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 2:15PM
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