How to Create Cash Flow When Buying a Multi-Unit Apartment Building

Renting out vacant units for weekend conventions provides regular income for apartment owners.

Renting out vacant units for weekend conventions provides regular income for apartment owners.

You've purchased a multi-unit apartment building as an investment, but that doesn't mean you can't earn some cash from the rental building beyond the regular rent collected each month. Normal channels for rental cash flow include charging extra fees for parking spaces or garage access and increased charges for apartments with special features, such as a patio, but there are numerous other ways to create a regular cash flow from your new apartment building.

Short-Term Apartment Rentals

Building owners of apartment complexes with vacant units have an opportunity for additional cash each month by renting the empty apartments to travelers during peak vacation times. If your town hosts conventions or annual festivals, these events also offer chances to fill any vacancies at a higher per-day rate than you would typically get with income from monthly rental fees. This short-term rental operation requires purchasing a basic set of apartment furnishings for use in the unit, but this set moves throughout the complex as units become vacant and you rent the unit for short-term tenants.

Renter Services

Contracting with local firms to provide services to your building renters creates a cash flow from each business partner. Collect income from monthly access fees to your renters or take a percentage for each service contracted from the companies by your apartment renters. Charging a fee, for instance, to allow firms to distribute door hanger advertising services to your tenants or charging vendors to place fliers in an apartment building lobby brings you some cash each month. Examples of contracted services include apartment cleaning operations, snack-food and media-vending machines and partnerships with internet, cable or land-line telephone providers. This service arrangement allows your renters to contract for services directly with the provider and you avoid any direct commitment or responsibility as part of the service agreement.

Rental Equipment

Apartment owners create a regular cash flow from washer and dryer rentals in the individual units and from a central room with coin-operated machines. Other cash flow ideas include temporary rentals of vacuum cleaners and small kitchen appliances, including toasters, blenders and hand mixers. Computers and routers for internet service provide income sources for the rented equipment. If your building has a pool or spa, offering weekend towel rentals during warm weather or poolside drink service also provides extra income.

Cleaning Supply Sales

If your tenants have limited access to transportation, selling washing detergent and dryer products in the coin-operated laundry room creates a small, but regular, cash flow. Adding sales of ordinary apartment cleaning supplies available from the central rental office offers another source of cash, particularly when your multi-unit doesn't have easy access to shopping centers or local grocery stores. If your apartment building caters to college students, selling a starter cleaning package with a broom, dust pan, cleaning cloths, sponges, dish dryer and dish towels provides shopping convenience for your out-of-state student tenants who arrive without basic household equipment.

About the Author

*I have written chapters and articles for Oxford and Harvard University Presses, ABC-CLIO, and others. Arcadia Press published two of my local history texts and I have also written for numerous "article sites," including Pagewise in 2002. My "How to become a...real estate agent" is available as an online text from a Canadian publisher. *I taught writing courses at a branch campus of Indiana University. *I held a California real estate license and have remodeled four of my own homes and advised others on financing homes, repairing credit to qualify for loans, and managing construction (including meeting local, state, and federal regulations for restoration and development grants). *I served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer and wrote nearly $75,000 in small education grants (under $1,000). *My travels include frequent road trips in Canada, Mexico, U.S., and Europe. I attended school at Cambridge University and used this as a base to explore the UK and Europe.

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