Bikes are popular among renters these days, especially in busy urban areas or at properties located near bike paths. But storing bikes on a rental property can be challenging, as space is often limited, garages may not be available, and you don’t want to encourage your renters to house dirty bikes within their units.
That’s why it’s important to address this issue and explore options that will make renters happy while also costing you less. Experts recommend that you carefully consider:
- Why renters love bikes
- Why landlords need to provide bike storage
- The risks of improper storage of bikes
- Indoor bike storage ideas
- Bike hanging options
- Outdoor bike storage strategies
- Rules and restrictions
Don’t take renters’ needs and preferences for granted. Put yourself in their shoes and examine the best solutions for storing bikes on your rental property.
Why renters love bikes
Eugene Romberg, a real estate investor and home flipper in Fremont, California, believes more tenants own and use bikes today than ever before.
"Many bike to work, which saves them money on transportation. This may correlate to you getting your rent money on time," he says.
Brian Davis, director of education for SparkRental, a landlord resource provider based in Philadelphia, says he’s observed bike sales spiking during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"So many people are looking for safe and healthy recreational activities during this time of social distancing," says Davis. "That means it’s a better time than ever for landlords to provide bike storage for their tenants."
Why landlords need to provide bike storage
Robert Heidel is regional operations manager of GMH University Housing, a Newton Square, Pennsylvania–based real estate company that specializes in developing and managing university housing. Ask him and he’ll tell you that providing bike storage is crucial, "especially for college students. Also, some municipalities have a minimum requirement for the amount of bike storage an apartment has to have onsite to promote green modes of transportation."
What’s more, "in my experience, tenants who bike as a hobby generally understand how to take care of their property and can be a good type of tenant to rent to," notes Noah Brinker, owner of Cash Homes NWA, a home-flipping company in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The writing is on the wall for landlords: Disregard this penchant for pedaling at your own risk.
"If a landlord doesn’t provide proper bike storage options, their tenants are going to store bikes in whatever way is most convenient for them," Brinker adds.
The risks of improper storage of bikes
That brings up an important question: What is the best way and place to offer bike storage on your rental property?
If you only provide an outdoor storage solution, like a community bike rack, it could attract thieves and result in rusty, weathered bikes battered by the elements.
If you permit renters to store bikes within their units, that could result in dirty bikes being brought in and out of your building, leading to soiled floors and walls.
"Bikes go through the dirt, grass, and asphalt, which can cause a mess and even some property damage," cautions Romberg.
Say you install bike hanging solutions; if the hardware, hooks, or anchors aren’t properly fastened or installed in the wrong spot, the bike could fall and injure someone or damage your property.
For all these reasons and more, this is a challenge that requires prudent planning and shrewd strategizing.
Indoor bike storage strategies
If your property has a garage for each tenant, one obvious answer is to require tenants to store bikes within the garage.
If that’s not an option, but your building has a spacious common area like a laundry room or basement, perhaps permitting renters to store their bikes in this area is best.
Or, if you have spare land, you could build a separate bicycle shed on the grounds for tenants. This can be an expensive endeavor, but the price could be worth it if it keeps tenants happy, incentivizes them to renew their leases, and serves as a feature you can market to attract future tenants. HomeAdvisor reports that the cost to build a storage shed, depending on the size, type, and materials, can range from $1,679 to $4,663 or more.
"For most properties, a community storage area with a designated indoor area for bikes can be beneficial to a majority of tenants," Brinker explains.
Bike hanging options
One inexpensive and organized indoor solution is to hang bicycles.
"Install bike hooks in the ceiling of a mudroom, basement, or other semi-finished space," recommends Davis. "Just make sure you drill hooks into a stud or beam behind the drywall."
Alternatively, try implementing a bike hoist/lift that allows you to hang and suspend a bike from the ceiling or wall with less lifting effort.
"By having a hoist, you create more space underneath the bikes, and it offers a clean, organized look with less drilling required," Romberg says.
As a last resort, consider allowing tenants to store and, if possible, hang their bikes inside their units.
"For larger apartments or properties without an outdoor storage area, a landlord could offer a free indoor bike rack that mounts to a wall inside of the unit," suggests Brinker.
Outdoor bike storage strategies
Think about offering outdoor bicycle storage options, too. This can include a covered or uncovered area where you install a shared bike rack that can be anchored to the asphalt or concrete.
"Bike racks should be placed somewhere out of sight from street view and should be underneath a roof or awning so that the weather won’t rust the bicycles," says Romberg.
Heidel says bike racks often cost between $200 and $700 or more per rack -- a worthy investment in added convenience and peace of mind for your tenants.
Rules and restrictions
Davis advises adding a "security not guaranteed" clause in your lease agreements.
"This should explicitly state that the landlord is not liable for any theft, including bike theft, that takes place at the property," says Davis.
Also, require renters to use bike storage spaces and equipment responsibly. That may mean adding language to the lease agreement that says they can only bring cleaned/unsoiled bicycles indoors and are responsible for any dirt, grime, or damage that this activity will add to the property.
"Specifically state in your lease agreement that a community bike shed or storage area is neither guaranteed nor maintained by the landlord and is provided purely as a courtesy," Davis adds. "If the tenants wish to use it, they must clean and maintain it."