letting furnished or unfurnished buy to let property

Letting furnished or unfurnished buy to let and HMO property. What extent should you furnish a property that you want to rent out ? If you intend to use a letting agency then they may have a view on this, but most will leave the furnishing issue to you. Whether you’re a seasoned landlord, new to the industry or an accidental landlord letting furnished or unfurnished depends on who you are pitching your property to. It may well be that you prefer a more simplistic and less expensive ‘blank canvas’ route and opt for unfurnished. While a furnished property needs to show some thought towards furnishings. This important consideration will impact on the type of tenants attracted to the property.

Letting Furnished or unfurnished will depend on tenants

If you are marketing your property to students then the property needs to be furnished. If you’re marketing to professionals then unfurnished or semi-furnished is an option. However if you wish to cover all bases furnishing a property needn’t cost an arm or a leg. However be conscious of the quality as when property’s are marketed for sale or rent the furniture says a lot about the owner/landlord. There is no legal definition of furnished or unfurnished though there are some associated expectations. While unfurnished may conjure up an image of nothing more than bare walls the expectations are:

White Goods: A fridge, a freezer (Fridge Freezer), oven (with extraction) and a washing machine
Carpets: Carpeted throughout and/or wood flooring/tiling perhaps to kitchens/bathrooms
Curtains: Curtains and blinds (blackout) and/or while more modern and more expensive Plantation shutters.
Bathroom Fixtures: Toilet, sink and a bath/shower. Typically a P shaped bath/shower fits all needs.
Kitchen Fixtures: A typical built in kitchen as per white goods but may well include a breakfast bar and dishwasher.

If a property isn’t available with an item from the above list then make sure any prospective tenants are made aware. While photos of the property should present a true and accurate reflection mistakes can happen. Unpleasant surprises on moving in day should be avoided. Letting furnished or unfurnished also comes down to know your tenant. Professional tenants may well have a small amount of furniture but from experience this is limited to a quality bed and their own bedding. Perhaps together with any contemporary items such as a kitchen table and chairs.

Today’s professionals have high standards and are part driven by aesthetics and will shy away from ‘dated’ and ‘unappealing’. Conversely stylish furniture will encourage a higher rental and and the property will typically let quickly. Can there be anything more unappealing than a mishmash of tired plain furniture thrown together. Typically and sadly reminiscent of student lets with the omnipresent self assembled token desk. While the majority of landlords may have an innate angst towards letting agents it’s always worth asking their advice on letting furnished or unfurnished. Remember that they are in and out of properties 24/7 and they know what works. Trying to second guess what professionals ‘should’ like often falls flat.

When it comes to flooring most tenants prefer the contemporary, smart look of wooden flooring. Yet carpets remain the preference for bedrooms. Many landlords will have their niche as trying to cater for students, professionals and families can be a logistical nightmare. The adage of spreading risk is not as relevant as it once was given the strong demand for rental property. Therefore many landlords today may well not have too much of a mixed bag within their portfolio i.e. all HMO’s, apartments, lower cost terraced properties and so on. What an owner/landlord must remember is an impersonal rental property has to take on a welcoming ambience.

If you’re still trying to decide, here’s an overview of the pros and cons of both options to help you make your decision.
1. Some advise NO furnishing – rent your house out bare. Many prospective tenants may not like your furnishing tastes anyway, and some will already have their own furniture. Families looking for temporary rental after selling may have an amount of furniture and/or most may well be stored. Therefore again it comes down to what niche the investor pursues.

2. Others advise FULLY furnishing. This does save some prospective tenants the hassle and expense of doing their own furnishing, though some may have their own furniture already or their own ideas on home decor. Fully furnished is a pre-requisite for student accommodation.

But the reality is that if you want to get the best tenants to pay the best rent, fully furnished is often seethe most successful. Fully furnished is generally the best at getting tenants and higher rents. If you have a garden, then a mower and a BBQ are a good idea. Having a couple of framed paintings on key walls will also be a nice touch. Remember all items should be listed, a good video inventory will also include a comprehensive written document. View it as a written inventory with supporting video evidence, not as a video alone.

The written inventory should always correspond as closely as possible to the video. However there is still some debate as to whether there is a need for video evidence. Often seen by adjudicators and the deposit schemes as being landlord biased.