FURNISHING A RENTAL PROPERTY
To furnish or not to furnish – that is the question for landlords!?!
Whilst this question may not necessarily being perplexing landlords since Shakespearean times, it certainly has always been a long-standing conundrum to most landlords.
The issue for landlords revolves around the two competing objectives of a landlord: that of maximising income whilst at the same time minimising the time and effort involved in managing a property. Providing furniture will undoubtedly increase the rent that a landlord should receive for their property. This could be as much as a third in some cases.
However, before landlords all shoot off to Ikea, landlords also have to factor in the extra cost; which can be considerable. To furnish a luxury apartment you can be talking in the region of £10,000, although it is possible to ‘kit’ out a flat for around £500 if you shop at the cheaper home ware stores. Then there is the extra hassle for a landlord of choosing (don’t underestimate the skill in purchasing the right things to create the right ‘look’) then buying, transporting, assembling and arranging the furniture. All this will take a considerable amount of time for a landlord. Alternatively you can purchase an ‘off the peg’ furniture package specifically designed for landlords.
Once the furniture is installed by the landlord there will be added work recording the furniture in the inventory to ensure that at the end of a tenancy the tenants haven’t disappeared with half your property’s contents. Landlords should be aware that once occupied the ‘wear and tear’ by the tenants may mean that the pristine furnishings do not remain so for very long.
Unfortunately, some tenants have the attitude that because it’s not theirs; they are free to use and abuse it. If landlords want to continue to ensure that they will achieve the significant premium over unfurnished accommodation, then landlords will need to regularly replace or clean furniture to ensure that it continues to look good.
There is nothing worse than a potentially attractive property that is furnished badly and poorly chosen furniture is more likely to put off prospective tenants than bring in the premium rent a landlord wants. So, what on the face of it is a fairly straightforward and clear cut choice for landlords becomes more complicated. However in a landlord deciding on their course of action; a landlord should consider the following before going down the furnished route: How confident is he landlord that there is sufficient demand for furnished accommodation.
Furnished accommodation is particularly attractive to short stay tenants, for example professional workers who are required to relocate for work for a short period. In this scenario they rather pay a higher rent and then not have the hassle and expense of having to organise furniture for what could be a relatively short stay.
Landlords should make sure that supply is not saturated. The increasing popularity of buy-to-let as an investment and of city centre apartment developments in particular means that there is an awful lot more choice now for tenants than every before. Landlords should be careful that they are not attempting to provide the same accommodation as all the other landlords in a saturated market. This is unless a landlord isconfident that they can do it better than the competition or a landlord is prepared to take less rent!
Landlords should ensure that they will obtain a sufficient premium to make all that extra work and investment worthwhile. I would require an absolute minimum of 25% over the unfurnished or part furnished rent.
Is a landlord happy to invest the extra time in furnishing the property and the maintaining it once in place.
If landlords do decide to furnish their property in order to get a premium rent, then the next question is….
What furniture does a landlord need?
There will be all the obvious items: a bed, sofa and appliances such as a washing machine, fridge freezer and cooker. A landlord will also need storage such as wardrobes and draws as well as tables and chairs for meal times. For a landlord to make the place feel a bit more comfortable it’s probably worth having some kind of coffee table for the living room and then some free standing lighting will help a landlord to show their property in its’ best light.
If the property is aimed at very short term lets then other items such as cutlery and cooking equipment such as pots and pans should also be provided. A few well chosen decorative rugs and pictures may also help to provide the finishing touch and help bring about a higher rent or quicker let for a landlord.
Not to furnish
It is true that a small amount of accommodation is also provided completely unfurnished. That is without even appliances. This is appropriate where a property is let long-term by a landlord under say an Assured Tenancy where the tenant has considerable security of tenure.
However, the most popular route for landlords is to ‘part furnish’ a property and provide basic appliances such as fridge freezer, washing machine and cooker. These items are now considered ‘essentials’ in most tenants eyes and are unlikely to be owned by young tenants below 35 years old who have not previously owned a property but who make up a significant part of the rental market.
This is the type of accommodation I have generally provided during my landlord career. For me it minimises the complications in managing the property. I personally don’t want to be called out every time a bed breaks or handle snaps. At the same time this arrangement seems to satisfy the demands of the largest part of the tenant market who are looking for clean attractive accommodation that they can personalise with their own furniture and possessions.
Finally last but not least…. window treatments
For most landlords, its curtains! These are the most obvious solution to bare windows for landlords. For the uninitiated landlords, don’t think it’s a straight forward business so that a landlord can just ignore it. It’s a serious subject and for the uninitiated landlord there is a lot to learn.
First of all, should a ladlord be putting them up at all, isn’t it the tenant’s job? It can be. Sometimes the tenant will express a preference to use their own. Generally in my experience is that most tenants are happy and even expect a landlord to provide them. What about the style and colour? Stick with the neutrals theme again. I would advise a nice cream colour. This should harmonise nicely with the cream walls and carpet! Seriously, landlords should remember the idea is to provide a blank canvas for the tenant. Not to dictate a landlords own design style or colours. I tend to introduce a little bit of interest by buying ones with a subtle pattern or weave.
If a landlord is buying an existing property there should be curtain rails already there. If landlords can, utilise them as it saves on the additional expense and hassle for a a landlord of buying and erecting new ones. Even if they are not great, once the new curtains are up no tenants will really notice. A word of warning for landlords! Before landlords rush off with their measurements to the nearest Ikea; make sure you are clear on the type of poles you have and the hooks you require. Don’t do as I have, career off with measurements in hand; only to arrive back with lovely cheap curtains, but the wrong sort.
What do I mean?
There are three principal types of curtain; the tab top, the track and hook and the hoop and hook. The former are fixed by a material tab, which slides along a pole. The latter uses wooden hoops, which are attached through curtain hooks whilst the other method uses hooks that attach to the curtain tape and then clip onto the rail allowing them to slide back and forth.
Which is best? The tab version tends to be cheapest as there are no hooks required although the ‘good old’ curtain rail gives the most satisfying ‘draw’.
Finally, I come to the mystery of the ‘drop’. This is a crucial dimension for window treatments. It’s critical in that it dictates the length of the curtains and is normally quoted as the 2nd figure on the packet of a pre made set. When you measure up you should allow the curtains to finish 1.5cm above the sill or 15cm below. Floor length curtains should finish 1.5cm from the floor. You should always measure from the top of the track or pole. The other dimension is the width. A rough guide to the width is that it should be twice that of the opening. For example, if a landlord has a window 2m wide. A landlord will need 2 * 2m wide curtains. If a landlod wants a ‘fuller’ curtain you might consider increasing the ‘gather’ by having 3m wide curtains.
Landlords should remember to measure from the rail and that the curtains will have to be longer than the opening to take account of the position of the curtain tape into which the hooks are inserted. If a landlord can, buy ready made, they will be half the price or less of having them made to measure. Standard sizes are shown in table X.
Table X Standard Curtain Dimensions
|Width||110 cm||165 cm||225 cm||280 cm|
|drop||135 cm||180 cm||225 cm||270 cm|
I apologise to any butch landlords if all this seems a bit ‘girlie’, not that I am suggesting in any way that curtains are at all effeminate. All I wish is that I knew what I know now. It would have saved me many hours of confusion and stopped me from ‘flying off the rails’ more than once!
FORMS FOR LETTING PROPERTY
FINANCE AND TAX ON RENTAL PROPERTY
RENTAL PROPERTY REGULATIONS
INVESTING IN BTL PROPERTY
WHAT TO BUY
BUYING OFF PLAN
KNOWING THE RISKS
MANAGING YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY
NON - PAYMENT OF RENT
GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK
THE TENANT WONT MOVE OUT
THE TENANT DOES A BUNK
RAISING THE RENT
REDUCING THE RENT
REPAYING THE TENANCY DEPOSIT
DAMP, MOULD AND CONDENSATION
LETTING RENTAL PROPERTY
LEGISLATION ON LETTING PROPERTY
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
HOUSING ACT APPEAL DISPUTES
THE LANDS TRIBUNAL
RIGHTS OF LIGHT APPLICATION
APPEALS FROM LEASEHOLD VALUATION TRIBUNALS (LVT's)
POSSESSION - SECTION 8 NOTICE
POSSESSION - SECTION 21 NOTICE
SECTION 21 TIMETABLE AND PROCESS
GROUNDS FOR POSSESSION
HARASSMENT BY LANDLORDS
RENT DISPUTES BETWEEN LANDLORD & TENANT
FAIR RENT (RAC)
MARKET RENT UNDER AST
LEASEHOLD VALUATION TRIBUNALS
MODIFICATION OF RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS