To furnish or not to furnish… that is the question!

 

When bringing your rental property to the market there are many things to consider but one of the burning questions that over half of all new landlords ask is whether they should do the property furnished or unfurnished.  In addition, no one seems to have set definitions for what should and should not be included with both.

Definitions

So let’s kick off by defining the levels of furnishings according to City Lettings (these are not global definitions).

  • Unfurnished – No furniture and no white goods, just flooring, window dressings and light shades/fittings.
  • White goods – As above but will include fridge freezer, washing machine, oven, hob and if you are lucky a dishwasher.
  • Part furnished – Pieces of the main furniture but not the full set e.g. two beds but no sofas and wardrobes.
  • Furnished – All of the main items of furniture e.g. in a bedroom this would be a bed, a mattress, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers and bedside cabinets
  • Fully furnished – as above but will include all of the crockery, cutlery, pots and pans and sometimes bedding.

It is important to point out that even on Unfurnished properties we want our landlords to ensure that there is flooring in every room, e.g. carpets, laminate, vinyl and that there are light shades or light fittings in every room.  In addition we ask that landlords provide curtains or blinds.  The rationale behind this is that in a competitive market this can be the differential between someone taking your property and not and also the expense that tenants face when moving in is vast and if they have to buy curtains that inevitably they can not take to their next home (as they won’t fit) then is this really fair on them?

Considerations

So what should you consider when deciding whether to furnish your property?

1) Target Market

Who is your target market and are they more likely to want furnished?

For example, students always want furnished,  properties near train stations are good ones to furnish as you will tempt Monday to Friday contractors.  Family homes are more likely to let unfurnished as most families already have their own stuff.

2) Do you already have furniture?

You may be moving in with a partner, creating one household from two in which case you will probably have furniture already left over.  If so does it match the property? Are you putting old-fashioned furniture in a modern apartment?  Is your furniture compliant with the fire regulations

(The relevant regulations are contained in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 as amended by Regulations made in 1989 and 1993).

Will the furniture be to the tenant’s taste.

3) Time and effort

Bear in mind some people enjoy shopping for furniture and others find it a chore.  Searching for, purchasing and buying everything for a two bedroom apartment is not a two second job and taking delivery and building it is not either!  Have you got the time and energy to do all this.

One quick solution to this issue can be to buy an off the shelf landlord’s furniture pack.

4) Costs/Rent

How much is the furniture going to cost?  How much extra rent will you get if you furnish the property?  Will furnishing the property reduce your void periods?  Basically you need to work out if it is worth it.

5) Length of Tenancy

One thing that most Landlords fail to consider is that the average length of a tenancy is shorter when a property is furnished.  We would suggest that the rationale behind this is that tenants are less likely to move if they have hoisted their own furniture up the stairs and they probably feel more at home surrounded by their own furniture and are therefore less likely to leave.

6) Tax

As of April 2016, the 10% Wear and Tear Allowance has been replaced with a new tax relief that considers only those costs actually incurred for the replacement of furnishings, appliances and kitchenware in rented residential properties.

7) Repairs and Delapidations

Put very simply, more furniture equals more things that can break or go wrong!

In Summary

There are few hard and fast rules about furnishing your rental property instead there are lots of factors to consider.  It is not right for every property and it is not right for every landlord.  It is not necessarily a panacea to print more money.