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Furnished or Unfurnished? Strategies for Presenting Rental Properties

September 5, 2019

It’s one of the most common questions we hear from landlords: “Should I present my rental property furnished or unfurnished?” As it turns out, there’s no single answer. So, what to do when you’re letting your property and you’d like to attract reliable tenants?

The answers lie in the way you present your property; and in some cases, in the type of property you’re offering for let.

Woodford 4 bed

Family homes vs. apartments: Who will your property attract?

In general, families come with many of their own furnishings, so it often makes sense to leave family homes unfurnished or offer them partly furnished so that tenants may add their own personal touches. Longevity is among the key benefits to offering an unfurnished home, particularly in a location where families tend to put down roots, i.e. near good schools.

What if your property is an apartment in a metropolitan area? In this case, the opposite tends to apply: These areas tend to attract students and professionals who enjoy burden-free lifestyles. Offering a fully furnished, turnkey apartment with a well-equipped kitchen that includes everything from a cooker to barware is an excellent strategy for attracting a high-value tenant who wants a place to call home for the short term.

There’s a little more to the story, though. Here are a few more tips for presenting property according to tenant type:

  • Students - If your property is near a university and you’d like to attract students, it’s an excellent idea to offer your property fully furnished with practical, convenient pieces such as desks in bedrooms.
  • Employed Sharers or Young Professionals – In many cases, employed sharers are thrilled to find attractive apartments with contemporary furnishings, particularly when you place an emphasis on creating a welcoming space where tenants will feel free to entertain.
  • Employed Couples – Depending on the area, many employed couples prefer to rent apartments with well-appointed kitchens, good-quality fixtures, and perhaps a few basic furnishings such as a sofa and a dining set. Many employed couples have already purchased beds and some other furnishings, making part-furnished and unfurnished apartments a popular choice.
  • Short-term Professional Tenants – These individuals require attractive, turnkey spaces, and they display a strong preference for high-quality furnishings and professionally designed interiors. If your apartment comes with everything necessary for daily living and the furnishings are best quality, you’ll find it easier to attract this type of tenant.

Pros and cons of presenting properties furnished vs. unfurnished

In addition to considering the type of tenants you’d like to attract, there are some definite pros and cons to letting an unfurnished property vs. one that is fully or partially furnished which we’ve discussed below.

The main thing to be aware of is that whether you let out your property furnished or unfurnished your still have landlord responsibilities to upkeep; however if you let out your rental property furnished, you have a few more legal obligations in regards to furniture, furnishings and appliances:

1. Maintenance of appliances and equipment

2. PAT testing of small appliances

3. Maintenance of the property

4. Compliance with furniture and furnishings regulations

5. Compliance with gas regulations

6. Fixed wiring inspection

7. Energy Performance Certificate and Minimum Requirements (read the rules of minimum energy efficiency laws for landlords here)

8. Inventory of property

Portico Handymen can help with all of the above as well as the general maintenance of your property and ensure you are meeting your requirements. Though if you opt for a Portico lettings package, we will of course ensure you comply with all legislation.

Give us a call on 020 7099 6999 to make a booking or find out more, or click here for an !!!!instant handyman quote.!!

Letting furnished properties:

Pros

  • Attract tenants who are looking for immediate move-in; property spends less time vacant
  • Furnishings may be reused between tenants or even re-sold if in good condition
  • Certain costs associated with furnishings are tax deductible

Note: Since new rules came into effect in 2016, landlords can only get the relief for actual costs incurred in replacing items such as furniture, furnishings, appliances (including white goods) and kitchenware. Deductible expenses include both the cost of the replacement item and also the incidental costs of disposal of the old item.

Cons

  • Furnishings are subject to wear and tear over time, even when tenants are careful
  • Insuring furnishings is up to you
  • The cost of hiring an inventory agent pre- and post-rental is assumed by the landlord
  • There are limits to how much you can charge tenants for damaged property, i.e. chipped crockery, stained carpets, etc.
  • Note: Furnishings and upholstered furniture supplied by landlords must meet fire resistance requirements. The relevant regulations are contained in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 as amended by Regulations made in 1989 and 1993.

    Letting unfurnished properties:

    Pros

    • Less upfront expense
    • No need to insure furnishings that belong to tenants
    • No need to dispose of / replace damaged furnishings
    • Less to clean between tenants
    • Greater likelihood of attracting long-term tenants who prefer to personalise their living space

    Cons

    • Unlikely to attract students and / or highly mobile professional clients if that is the goal

    Letting part-furnished properties:

    Pros

    • The most flexible choice
    • Allows tenants some leeway in deciding how to decorate
    • Provides you with the option of removing furnishings if tenants prefer to bring their own
    • If a desirable potential tenant likes everything but needs an additional furnishing such as a bed or desk, you can opt to add it
    • Certain costs associated with furnishings are still tax deductible

    Cons

    • Furnishings are still subject to wear and tear
    • If you choose to insure furnishings, you bear the cost

    Are you obligated to provide furnishings of any type?

    When letting an apartment or home, you are under no legal obligation to provide furnishings.

    With this in mind, it’s important to understand that most tenants want a few basics even in “unfurnished” properties. At a minimum, consider offering your property with a refrigerator, a microwave, a cooker, a dishwasher, and a washing machine since most tenants – even those who own furniture – don’t own these appliances.

    Offering these basics will almost certainly help you attract tenants and get your property off the rental market as quickly as possible.

    Islington 1 bed

    What do tenants want in a furnished property?

    We have surveyed renters in the past, and they’ve shared important insights into how they prefer to have rental properties presented. The results might surprise you:

    • 41% of prospective tenants preferred simple, modern furniture in neutral colours. Contemporary laminate flooring was the preferred choice.
    • 38 % of tenants appreciated homely touches such as painted walls, unique pieces, and comfortable leather sofas.
    • 12% of survey participants loved the look of a quirky space with a wooden floor, neutral furniture, a few fascinating objects, and a fun feature wall.
    • Only 9% of prospective tenants longed for minimalism, where bright white walls, simple blinds, and chic but minimal furniture was on offer.

    Basic furniture arranged to enhance rooms and create a sense of spaciousness is vital in all cases, and spotlights were an advantage in homes of every style. (Here’s some great tips and a video on how to create the illusion of light and space. Neutral wall paints also help make a home feel more spacious, fresh and modern, so stay away from dark colours or feature walls.)

    You can watch the video of the preferred rental home here, and recreate the winning tenant look by using similar fixtures and fittings:

    Whether you’re opting to offer a fully furnished rental or one that’s partly furnished, remember that worn or outdated furnishings are frowned upon as are overly cluttered spaces.

    Our video on tenants’ top reasons for rejecting properties will help you avoid the mistakes that can leave your property vacant and harm your income.

    What to do if your property is still vacant? (How to avoid void periods)

    You can present your property perfectly, but you still may have to wait to find the perfect tenant. New landlord tax and legislative changes are already cutting into landlords’ profits, so you don’t want to add long void periods into the mix.

    Luckily there’s a smart way to avoid voids and actually increase profits - and seasoned landlords are beginning to cotton on.

    Airbnb is an increasing popular short-term solution for landlords (there’s an annual limit of 90 days for London Hosts), who are utilising the site to a) synchronise their tenancy to begin in a busy season where they can command a higher rent and b) avoid void periods by putting their property on Airbnb until they find a long-term tenant.

    We offer a cost-effective Airbnb management service, Portico Host, to give landlords the flexibility of short-term letting without the hassle. A month or so before your tenancy is coming to an end, let us know and we can plan to get your property ready to go live on Airbnb. Our team can time it so that by the time you’ve utilised your 90 days on Airbnb, we will have a tenant ready and waiting to move in.

    Find out how much you’d make per night on Airbnb here.


    The last word…

    So, should you let your property furnished, part-furnished, or unfurnished? If you’re still curious about which of the three strategies will work best for you, we can help.

    Portico’s agents are well-versed in attracting tenants according to property and type, placing you in the best position to reduce the expenses associated with vacancy while giving tenants a functional, attractive space to call home.

    If you want guidance for letting your property or if you want any more information about the different letting packages we offer, give us a call on 020 7099 4000. !!!

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