Now before you decide whether to spend the day at Ikea, getting hopelessly lost and frustrated (but if you do, winner: cheap meatballs!)
Your decision should really be made by your target tenant market rather than your personal tolerance to shopping and flat-pack building. If you are letting a three-bedroom semi to a family, there is a good chance that they will have their own furniture and therefore would prefer an unfurnished property, but a young first-time renting professional might be looking for somewhere that is already kitted out with a bed, sofa etc.
If the preference of your target tenant in your local area isn’t cut and dried, here are the advantages of each to help you decide…
IN THE RED CORNER – UNFURNISHED
Letting an unfurnished property is, obviously, much easier for you because you don’t have to go to the expense of kitting it out. It will also make life so much easier throughout the tenancy because if an item of furniture breaks, it will be the tenant’s responsibility to fix/replace than yours. Also, at the end of the tenancy, there is no potential damage to your furnishings for there to be a disagreement about.
Another advantage is that, in our experience, tenants who move into unfurnished properties are likely to stay longer than those in furnished properties. We can only presume that this is because moving home will be much more of a pain (having bought all their own furniture) that they are in the mindset of staying put unless there is a very good reason to move.
That being said, it is becoming increasingly common to provide a fridge/freezer and washing machine in unfurnished properties.
IN THE BLUE CORNER – FURNISHED
We find that the most common items that need repairing or replacing are washing machine and other white goods, which (as we just mentioned) are often expected to be supplied even in “unfurnished” properties. If you do decide that furnishing your property is the way to go, it makes sense economically as well as practically to provide hardwearing furniture from the outset. So despite our reference to Ikea earlier, it probably isn’t the answer.
It might be cheap, but it is generally not hardy enough to survive more than a couple of years in a rental property.
Instead, try a specialist provider of landlord furniture – they provide furniture that has been specifically chosen to be durable and presentable as well as reasonably priced. There are lots of specialist suppliers around the UK, they also tend to offer “packs” – to save you putting together a shopping list and having to go to various different shops.
There isn’t an official definition of what “furnished” means, but at the very least, tenants would expect the following:
- White goods
- Sofas and a coffee table in the living room
- Beds with mattresses, plenty of storage space in the bedrooms and if renting to students a desk and chair
We would recommend not getting into the realms of cutlery or small appliances like kettles, these tend to be more associated with holiday lets.
For any furniture you provide (except for curtains and carpets), you must ensure that it complies with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. Any modern furniture will comply, but it is worth looking out for if you are buying second-hand or from abroad.
HOW TO DECIDE
If you are not sure what is most appropriate for your target market, jump onto one of the property portals Zoopla, OnTheMarket or Rightmove and search for “let Agreed” properties similar to yours to see whether the majority seem to be furnished or unfurnished. Ignore the ones that are still available to let, if there are a lot of unfurnished properties, it could possibly be because the furnished ones have already been snapped up.
If you are still in doubt… start marketing it unfurnished but advise in your advert that it can be either. If a few potential tenants remark that they would like it to be furnished, then you can do so and negotiate what they need – if however, it lets unfurnished, you have at the very least saved yourself some money!
If you need any help or advice, we would be delighted to help. Give us a call on 01243 252984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would absolutely love to hear from you!