When you own a rental property (or several), one of your main goals as a landlord is to keep costs as low as possible. Doing this allows you to be more profitable without increasing the rent for your tenants. That’s why many landlords wait as long as they can about replacing the stove, the carpets, the HVAC system, and other essential fixtures in the home. If they still work, why replace them?
However, this isn’t always the same mentality you should use when it comes to windows.
Your windows serve a few vital purposes in helping you protect your investment. What’s more, they may also help to make your property more attractive to tenants. And most importantly, as a landlord, you have an obligation to your tenants to provide a safe, sound structure with everything in proper working order, including the windows.
So, should you replace your rental property’s windows if they’re not broken? The simple answer is: maybe! Here’s why you might consider new windows for your rental property:
1. New Windows Will Protect Your Property
Just like your rental property’s HVAC system, water heater, or roof, windows are subject to wear and tear over time. The outer parts of the windows are exposed to outdoor elements all the time. Eventually, they may create air or moisture leaks and no longer protect your home in the way they should.
Moisture problems can lead to more significant problems over time if left unaddressed — problems that can be more costly to fix than just the windows. Broken panes or closing mechanisms can also leave the property vulnerable to intrusion.
Make it a point to inspect your windows at least once a year. Look for signs of wear and tear that could affect your windows’ ability to protect your property. For example, take note of any condensation that accumulates on the window glass. It indicates that the window panes have separated and are allowing moisture to collect. Too much condensation can lead to rot. As a result, there will be mold and mildew within the home.
Remember, you might not need to replace all of your rental property’s windows at once. If you notice that one window is in bad shape compared to the others, you might only need to replace the one window, which can help keep costs low. Your window company can provide estimates for single-window replacement versus whole-home window replacement to help you weigh your decision.
2. New Windows Improve Living Conditions
As a landlord, your obligation is to provide suitable living conditions for your tenants. For that reason, it is advisable to replace your windows if they create drafts or allow bugs or debris to enter the home.
Granted, bugs, drafts, and debris can enter the home in other ways, too. How do you know if your windows are at fault?
If you can see any light coming through the window frames or feel cold air entering the home near the windows, then it’s time for a replacement. Also, if your tenants are struggling to open or close the windows due to window age or wear and tear, you should consider a window replacement.
As a bonus, newer windows may also improve your home’s insulating abilities. They can help retain heat (or cool air in the summer), which can drive down your tenant’s energy bills. A lower energy bill may be attractive enough to your tenants to continue renewing their lease, giving you a guaranteed revenue source.
3. New Windows May Attract Good Tenants
Aside from their practicality and functionality, new windows can improve the overall appearance of your rental property. Windows are a crucial component of your rental property and are one of the first things new tenants see. The appearance of your windows can make a good or bad first impression, depending on their condition.
Many windows show their age due to poor maintenance, which can drive down the aesthetics of your property. As a result, your tenants might wonder what else you’ve neglected on the property and may be hesitant to sign a lease.
That is one reason why many landlords choose low-maintenance windows when they upgrade. For example, vinyl windows don’t require painting and will typically wipe clean with minimal effort. Plus, they resist mold and mildew and can withstand extreme temperature changes and other abuse.
When a rental property looks nice and is well cared for, your prospective tenants will take notice. The faster you can find good tenants for your property, the sooner you can start to make back some of your window investment.
4. Bonus: Window Replacements May Improve Your Tax Obligations
Depending on the reason for your window replacement, you may be able to leverage it on your taxes. If you are replacing a broken window, then the window may qualify as a repair. For property improvements, you can depreciate the cost over several years. Work with your tax professional to determine your eligibility.
Can I Repair My Rental Property’s Windows Instead?
One of the biggest questions from property owners is knowing whether they need to replace or repair windows. In some cases, a window repair might make the most financial sense. If the frames are in good shape and the issue relates to air leakage, then a repair could be a viable option.
You can also repair foggy windows, but it’s not usually the best option. That’s because while the glass might be clearer, the process it takes to clear them forces the glass to function more like a single pane window than a double-pane window. You might save money on the front end, but a lack of insulation and a poor quality “fix” is usually not worth it.
Installing new windows on your rental property comes with several advantages that may outweigh any costs involved. It all depends on your priorities and the return on investment you hope to receive. Talk with your local window company to explore your options and ensure an outcome that will make you and your tenants happy.