Competitive markets, limited inventory and the high cost of living are driving many Canadians away from prospective homeownership — and unlike previous generations, today’s young professionals are more accepting of the possibility they’ll be renting for life. As such, rental communities must up the perks and amenities if they want to appeal to this growing cohort of high-calibre renters looking for long-term places to live, work and play. Here, Lee Galka, Director of Business Development at Accora Village in Ottawa, shares seven ways to ensure your rental community stands out:
1. Pet-friendly features
Young people living alone often enlist a furry friend as a roommate and companion—which means their living area must offer pet-friendly amenities. Creating a rental community that embraces pets is more than just allowing them to live on the premises; it means sharing information about nearby parks and having waste receptacles available on the grounds to make it easier for pet owners to clean up after their pets. Whether your property has an abundance of green space or not, green turf carpets can be used to transform any outdoor space into a pet-friendly zone.
2. Fitness amenities
Many young professionals embrace fitness as a lifestyle rather than a trend; therefore, having access to an on-site fitness centre with flexible hours is an amenity many will not do without. Having a fitness facility just steps from one’s front door makes it that much easier for building residents to pop in for a quick workout on their lunch break or after work. In contrast, paying the extra expense of a gym membership elsewhere while also having to account for travel time is becoming less desirable and may deter prospective tenants.
3. On-site parking
For busy working professionals, the length of their daily commute plays a critical role in determining where they are willing to live—meaning on-site parking can be “make or break” as far as amenities go. Most car owners today will only seek out properties that offer on-site parking, and as EV charging stations become more coveted, your parking facility will need to provide these as well.
4. In-suite laundry
In-suite laundry is a perk for anyone living in a rental community, especially for those constantly on the go. While most older apartment buildings offer coin laundry in a common area or will advertise a nearby laundry facility, in-suite laundry is highly preferred, and studies show that offering this amenity will dramatically increase the desirability and value of the property.
5. Increased security
Another feature inching up the must-have list of young professionals is enhanced building security, with many single tenants seeking the additional safeguards that come from having desk personnel available 24/7. This physical presence, in addition to locked doors and limited access to elevators and stairwells, come in handy in other ways, too, by keeping residents informed of daily events and helping to foster the community aspect of a rental space. And if a tenant loses a key or has trouble with a lost package, someone is always there to help.
6. Recreational fun
Many apartment complexes try to advertise themselves as communities without putting in the necessary work to foster a feeling of one. A great way to work toward building a community is to offer recreational classes and events, like cooking or painting classes, board game tournaments or BINGO nights. If the property has a common room, add billiards or shuffleboards so that residents can use them at their leisure, with friends or with each other. Even without a central space for functions, equipment rentals can make for great special occasions. For example, having snowshoes available in the winter will invite tenants to get out and explore nearby trails and perhaps introduce them to a new favourite pastime.
7. Co-working spaces
Remote working isn’t just a fad, but a lifestyle that’s here to stay. Some working professionals who entered the workforce during the pandemic have only ever worked remotely. The transition to home offices has brought a myriad of challenges for property managers, but many rental communities have figured out ways to transform common areas into co-working spaces equipped with internet, desks, chairs, coffeemakers, and other office essentials for residents to utilize. For hybrid workers, it’s the perfect happy medium between avoiding long commutes to work while still getting a change of scenery from one’s apartment.
“With fewer and fewer young people looking to buy, the rental market is in high demand. Apartment complexes and rental communities can seize the opportunity to cater to young professionals looking for long-term housing solutions,” concludes Galka. “Rentals must implement more amenities and resources to stand out in the competitive market. Nowadays, young professionals are seeking out the many benefits and conveniences of renting… so ensure your rental is up to par!”
Lee Galka is the Director of Business Development at Accora Village in Ottawa. He specializes in strategic marketing/sales planning and execution, revenue generation forecasting and market assessment.