A harbor filled with boats

As a rental property manager I scheduled and supervised my share of property upgrades and renovations, but none were as lucrative and satisfying as the purchase of rundown, outdated properties that my team worked hard to turn into upscale rentals meant to capture the interest of the type of tenant who could afford to pay higher rents.

Your own investment properties stand ready to churn out additional income for you, too. In fact, you can as much as double your monthly rents by appealing to the upper echelon of today’s increasingly diverse population of renters. When planning upgrades and renovations, consider the following features many luxury apartment seekers include on their list of must-haves — and a few that’ll give your rental units an extra “wow” factor to seal the deal with highly desirable tenants.


If you want rents to look up, look down.

Hardwood floors sustain a long-lasting appeal for their durability and ease of care. Tenants love the look of them and the status they convey. In kitchens and baths, opt for real ceramic or porcelain tiles for a long-lasting upgrade that will quickly pay for itself with higher rents. Tiles are also an option for your kitchen countertops, as an alternative to luxury granite. You can use them, too, for backsplashes.

Floor Plans

Speaking of kitchens, the open floor plan concept is not likely to fade in popularity anytime soon. If it’s in your budget and safe to do, knock down any walls that separate your rental property’s kitchen from the rent of the unit.

My favorite alternative to the total knockdown is the kitchen pass-through, a feature from a bygone area that has made a popularity resurgence. With a wall pass-through to a dining room or living room, your contractors can create an open concept without losing valuable counter and storage space above and below the cutout. Extend the counter through the cutout into your dining or living room and add a few bar stools to create a modern must-have many discriminating apartment hunters will appreciate — a breakfast bar.


You’ll get a lot of bang for any renovation bucks you spend to upgrade light fixtures in your rental property. Even if you set a budget of less than $100 per piece, you’ll have a lot of lighting fixture options.

Pendant lighting over a breakfast bar, island or kitchen window can dramatize a kitchen in a way that appeals to high-paying tenants. Add a wall sconce to an entryway or interior hall for instant elegance and sophistication.


Prospective tenants seeking a luxury apartment require — and are willing to pay for — a number of extra amenities in their rented homes. If you’re turning an existing average apartment into a luxury unit, don’t forget to install a security system and see if you’re able to create an outdoor living space — either a garden, rooftop deck, or terrace — for instance.

In all cases, any renovations you do should make use of top-quality materials and experienced craftsmen. Luxury upgrades are not generally the best time to try cheap do-it-yourself projects. Remember that if your goal is to double your rental income and lure upscale tenants, skimping won’t get the job done.