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Letting your property furnished or unfurnished – which is better?

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You’ve purchased your buy to let property or decided to rent out a place you own. One of the first things you need to decide is whether you will be letting your property furnished or unfurnished.

Letting your property furnished or unfurnished

 

There is no right or wrong answer – you’re not legally obliged to furnish the property and demand for unfurnished places is growing. However, there are plenty of pros and cons whatever you decide. You will need to give the issue some thought, taking into account the type of tenant you’re looking to attract as well as the location of the property and what’s practical for you.

Generally, large homes are better rented out unfurnished – they will appeal to families who often come with quantities of furniture of their own. Smaller city-centre flats will be targeted at young professionals, who are likely to move around a lot and expect at least some of the core furniture to be provided. If you are using a letting or estate agent or property management company, ask their advice about the local picture first.

For short term corporate lets you’ll be expected to include most furniture, fixtures and fittings including wifi, cable, cutlery, crockery, bedding and towels – of a high standard. You might need to add the odd comfort touch, such as rugs, cushions or wall art too.

If you are renting to students, you will need to supply a bed, wardrobe and desk in every bedroom and a sofa, dining table and chairs in the communal room.

If you’re still struggling to decide, think about the pros and cons of each option:

The pros of furnished properties

  • You may let the property more quickly as it will be suitable for people who want to move straight in.
  • A recent study showed that two-bedroom furnished flats in the UK can attract higher rents – by as much as 21% – than unfurnished properties.
  • Corporate and overseas tenants may be willing to pay even more to live in a well-furnished property.
  • Buy sturdy, good quality furniture and it will be an investment to be used again in future properties.

The cons of furnished properties

  • There is more hassle associated with furnished properties. You’ll need to draw up an inventory that covers everything and inspect carefully for damage when your tenants move out.
  • It will be your responsibility to repair and replace items which you have provided – unless you specify otherwise in the tenancy agreement.
  • You will need landlords’ insurance contents cover for your items.
  • Many tenants prefer to buy their own furniture. You might put off potential tenants if your furniture is dated or not to their taste.

The pros of unfurnished properties

  • Tenants who move into a place with their own furniture and belongings may be more likely to stay long term.
  • You won’t need to worry about damage caused to the furniture or having to replace any items.
  • You won’t need to take out contents insurance, if furniture is owned by a tenant.
  • If you decide to sell the property, you won’t have to dispose of furniture.

The cons of unfurnished properties

  • Your property will be less appealing to certain groups such as young professionals. If it’s a city centre flat, this will limit your pool of prospective tenants.
  • Empty rental properties can look unappealing at viewings.

Or there’s part furnished

Rather than providing a fully furnished place, many landlords now offer a middle option of part furnished. This gives the tenant the flexibility to choose the furniture they want, from the items you have available – they may choose to have shelves, but wish to add their own sofa, for example. A flexible approach from the landlord at an early stage will be received positively by potential tenants and may encourage them to stay longer.

In any case …

Whether you go for furnished or unfurnished, there are certain items you’ll be expected to provide. These include washing machines, cookers, fridge freezers and sometimes dishwashers. You will also need to put blinds or curtains up for the windows and add ceiling or wall lights and mirrors.

If you go for furnished

Before you buy anything, think carefully about exactly what you’re likely to need and shop around. You want the furniture you buy to last. If you are including items you already own, remove anything of sentimental value, that is breakable, valuable or of a personal nature.

Everything should be hard-wearing, easy to clean and, easy to replace – it will undergo a lot of wear and tear. Go for neutral colours and simple, attractive pieces, with a light, bright feel. Avoid anything too bold, which may be off-putting.

Go for sofas with removable covers that can be machine washed or wiped clean. Divan beds generally last longer than cheap bedframes and provide useful storage. Mattress protectors are a must!

What does the law say?

It is a legal requirement that all soft and upholstered furnishings in rental homes are fire-resistant, so make sure they have a fire-safety label attached. Any electrical appliances you supply should be PAT tested. You are responsible for testing them regularly and will be liable if they cause a fire. For this reason, it’s better to allow tenants to supply their own toasters, kettles, irons, microwaves and TVs.

Gas cookers, fires and other appliances must comply with the law on gas safety and must be installed, maintained and checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Can we help?

Renting out property for the first time can be daunting, with lots of difficult decisions to be made. As an alternative, get in touch with Assetgrove. Our guaranteed rent scheme provides you with a fixed income for up to five years. Find out more or contact us today.

Neil Jennings

Neil is the Operations Director at Assetgrove Lettings, London's Leading Rent Guarantee Company, providing Landlords with no voids, property maintenance, fee-free property management and stress-free service.

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