Getting top rent may seem like a passive activity in the Greater Boston area, but rents are starting to flatten in general. With an influx of luxury apartment buildings coming  throughout the city, many individual condo owners are having a harder time maintaining consistent tenancy through transition periods.  Some landlord are even noticing that their rents are flattening or decreasing.  Here are five quick renovations you can do to stay at the top of the market:

1. Upgrade kitchen countertops. One of the quickest and easiest things you can do as a landlord is install granite or quartz counters int he kitchen.  They go a very long way in modernizing the space and are easier to clean than tile or laminate.  This upgrade breaths new life into the space and photographs well for rental listings.  Plus, it's more difficult to damage, so you don't have to worry about it as much.

2. Uncover hardwood floors.  Freshen up an old, dingy space by pulling up any carpeting.  This does a world of good for those who have allergies, and in general makes spaces more appealing.  It also allows you to consider renting to individuals with pets without having to worry about odors when they move out. If you're worried about damages to the flooring, you can always put a provision about floor coverings and rugs into the lease.

3. Install a washer & dryer. The least fun thing to do is go to the laundromat with a pocket full of quarters every single week. This is a big deal for renters. Give them this one nice thing.  You can even make it coin-op, but please don't make renters trudge around in the snow to go do laundry. 

4. Beautify outdoor spaces. Whether it's a full backyard, or a tiny balcony, make sure your outdoor spaces are well-kept.  These are a huge bonus for many renters, who dream of having a home of their own to entertain in.  If a backyard is moderately landscaped, or porches and decks are repaired and painted, it will go a long way toward renters seeing their space as a place to entertain friends and family.

5. Central Heat/Air. This is the most costly of the renovations suggested here, but it will also add value back to your property when you want to sell it, and it required very little maintenance beyond the initial installation.  This is a nice bonus for renters--generally HVAC is attached to a gas system, which is less costly from a utilities perspective, and the ability to control the temperature means tenants are comfortable year round.  And you don't have to worry about window units being installed and taken out (sometimes improperly) year in and year out.

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What do you think? Have you made these improvements and noticed any changes?  Renters, are there other improvements you look for or value more than these?