Watching “Pretty Woman” for the 90th Time Sure Beats Repainting a Room

When my last roommate moved out, I had the pleasure of helping to repaint her tangerine-colored bedroom back to its original, glorious shade of off-white. I’m all for roommate bonding, but I’d prefer that it involve a box of (rather cheap) wine and my 90th screening of Pretty Woman, not toxic fumes and three coats of primer.

Wielding a giant paint roller over my head, I initially felt very free and inspired (insert some sort of “the world is my blank canvas” metaphor here), but that feeling quickly gave way to aching muscles and the dangerous task of removing errant globs of paint from an electrical socket.

Hours into the project, my entire body speckled in primer, I learned two important life lessons: Paint that is named after bright-colored fruit is nothing but trouble (mango, kiwi, watermelon…I’m talking to you), and paying a little extra for someone else to do the dirty work is well worth the money.

Many residents feel the same way, and would happily pay $100 for their maintenance team to repaint their accent wall. Independent Rental Owners (IROs) understand this, and are able to increase their ancillary income by coming up with creative ways to give the residents more of what they want (and are willing to pay for).

Following are a few of their ideas, as shared during a recent Independent Rental Owner Committee (IROC) conference call:

Carpet cleaning fee. APTly Spoken’s most faithful readers (a.k.a. my parents) may recall an incident I had several months ago involving the splattering of spaghetti sauce on my new, beige carpet. Between that and a poorly constructed gingerbread house that instantly crumbled off of the dining room table, my floors could probably use a good scrubbing.

Greg Guerrero, Owner of Tulsa-based Apartment Services Company, charges $35 (upon resident request) to clean a unit’s well-trafficked areas. A reasonable alternative to combing the carpet for ground-up bits of frosting, I’d say.

Lockout fee. Sharon Oglesby, Owner of Virginia-based Oglesby Management Group, charges a $25 lockout fee after business hours, the entirety of which is given to the maintenance employee on-call.

Had I resided at one of Oglesby’s properties in the last year, someone would have $50 in extra spending money right now.

Pet fees. Aside from my lifelong dream to own a pet prairie dog, I have no desire to care for an animal. This apparently makes me an unfeeling, selfish person, but if I did actually have a beating heart—and therefore a dog—I’d have to pay a little extra for it.

Kevin Wolfgang, President & CEO of Delaware-based Evergreen Apartment Group, charges a $500 pet deposit fee and rewards residents’ honesty by offering them a 50 percent discount on that fee to those who preregister their animals before move-in. A good deal, should I ever get my hands on a domesticated prairie dog.

For more ancillary income ideas, check out the IRO Insider in the February issue of units, which mails Feb. 8.