If you've recently purchased your first single-family home (SFH) rental, you may be wondering what to expect as a first-time landlord. One of your main priorities may be whipping your property into rental shape -- including low-maintenance landscaping, fencing, and even interior paint to help reduce the amount of wear and tear your home goes through while under the care of renters. Choosing the right fence could save you hours of yearly maintenance and ensure you don't need to pay for repair or replacement for years; meanwhile, choosing a fence of less sturdy material or that requires care your renters may not show could require you to make costly repairs on an annual basis. Read on to learn more about some of the fencing options best suited for your rental home.
Which fencing options are the most low-maintenance?
While you may wind up with model tenants who have no problem keeping your rental home's lawn and landscaping trimmed and fence washed, you'll likely need to choose a fencing material under the assumption your tenants will do very little regular maintenance to your fence. Choosing an option that has a relatively low cost per linear foot and also requires nearly no maintenance will help ensure you get your money's worth out of your rental home's fence.
Aluminum fencing is lightweight, rustproof and comes in a variety of colors and styles. Because of their resistance to water (and rust), aluminum fences are an especially popular choice to border a pond or swimming pool. The only maintenance this type of fence will require is a periodic hosing down to remove any dirt or debris (like grass clippings or mud) that could cause premature corrosion.
- Composite lumber
Another durable option that won't require much upkeep from your tenants is composite lumber. Unlike raw or treated lumber, composite lumber is composed of a mix of wood fibers and plastic, making it significantly stronger (and less likely to splinter) than treated wood. The plastics used for the composite lumber mix can be treated with UV-resistant chemicals, helping the final product avoid fading or sun damage. Like an aluminum fence, a composite lumber fence should only need to be washed or rinsed off periodically.
- Chain link
The most utilitarian (and often cheapest) option is a simple chain link fence. This can be especially handy if you're planning to rent to families with pets, as these fences allow more air flow than solid fences and can help a pet owner keep an eye on his or her animal even while in another unfenced part of the yard. Chain link fences are also made of aluminum, which means they have the same rust-resistant properties as aluminum panel fencing. If you have the necessary equipment to install the fence posts, you may even be able to build this fence yourself, saving more money. In general, you'll pay less than $1 per linear foot of chain link fencing, plus any installation or additional material costs (like concrete).
Which fence materials should you avoid for a rental property?
If your home has slow renter turnover, you may find that several years or more go by before you can visit this home and give it a good cleaning between tenants. For homes without durable fences, this length of time may often be long enough for major problems to develop.
Because wood fences need to be stained and sealed periodically to protect against rot, insects, or other potential sources of decay, this may not be the best option for a rental home -- unless you choose a waterproof and antimicrobial wood like cedar, your fences may begin to show their age fairly quickly. Wooden fences can also be more easily damaged by children or pets than other types of fences.