Becoming a landlord can be a daunting process, and one of the big questions new landlords ask us at Zoom995 is how to furnish a property for tenants.
Read our guide below for all the advice and considerations you could need on how to furnish your rental property.
Who is the property for?
Before rushing out to buy furniture for your rental property, think carefully about who you plan to rent to – families, young couples, students, single occupancy? – and the likely demographic of all your future tenants at the property. In fact, you may well not need any furniture at all.
Does it need to be furnished?
- It can be difficult to decide how best to present your property, but don’t assume you’ll get more rental income for a fully furnished property. About half of all prospective tenants are looking for unfurnished accommodation, and generally furniture does not increase the amount of rent you can charge.
- Furnishing a property may increase the number of people interested in the property depending on the type of property it is and who it appeals to. For instance, a flat with a university nearby is likely to appeal to students, but students will generally require at least a bed, wardrobe, sofa, table and chairs and potentially a desk if you’re letting through the university itself. Students won’t be interested in furnishing the flat themselves and won’t be able to take the furniture with them when they move back home.
- A property which appeals to a family or young couple may well be better left unfurnished as many young families want to make the space feel like their own home with their own belongings and taste, rather than a temporary measure. A single person is more likely to be looking for part-furnished.
You can always appeal to as many people as possible, especially if you’re unsure of who your market is, by making it clear in your advert that the property is unfurnished but you can provide furnishing on request.
What should I buy?
If you do choose to furnish or part-furnish the property, everything you buy needs to be hard-wearing and easy to clean.
- In most properties, particularly low budget or student properties, furniture needs to be easy to replace, especially if you plan on charging tenants to replace furniture.
- A more upmarket property can have more expensive furnishings if this is what is likely to be expected within the property and the tenants are paying a high rental amount.
- Corporate tenants and single tenants usually want their accommodation to be comfortable, at least part-furnished, which would include a bed, sofa, dining table and chairs.
- What you buy can depend on how long the tenant is staying. A property on a short lease of less than six months may need a few extra items to make it more homely, such as coffee tables, rugs and some artwork. This goes a long way in making sure you have happy and content tenants who believe you’ve gone above and beyond to make the property their home.
Whatever you do, don’t include anything valuable or irreplaceable when furnishing the property.
Tips for decorating
Generally speaking, you’ll want to keep colours neutral in rental properties and avoid over-personalising with “statement” items which are particular to your taste, or things that mean something to you. The properties which gain the highest rental income are often modern, light and fresh but also cosy and warm.
- Do not clutter. Avoid putting any unnecessary bits of furniture and knick-knacks around the house as tenants are likely to have their own and want to personalise it. Afterall, they’re living in the property not you and the more neutral the home is the more they can add items to their own taste.
- You can still make the place homely while keeping it neutral and matching. Think warm neutral lighting and a plain coloured rug.
- Many tenants are collecting their own furniture with a hope of buying their own home one day, so keep it minimal in case they do want to bring their own.
- You may want to put in hard flooring as carpets can get stained quickly and spillages can cause the property to smell. You can put in a cleaning clause into the contract so this can be dealt with after every tenant, but it may be easier to have easy to clean flooring from the get go. Consider a cheap alternative to wooden flooring such as laminate.
- Go for sofas with removable covers that can be cleaned in a washing machine, or real or faux leather so you can easily wipe it down. These types of sofas tend to last longer in general. Divan beds provide storage and are also less flimsy than other bed frames, lasting longer. Mattresses will last longer if you provide mattress protectors.
- You’ll want curtains or blinds in every room, whether you furnish the property or not. All tenants will expect a level of privacy from the moment they move in. Buy some low cost plain curtains from the likes of Ikea or Argos. Blinds instead of curtains will make rooms look more spacious, but curtains are actually easier to clean when your tenants move on.
- You don’t need to supply bed linen. While it helps if these items are present during the marketing period to make bedrooms look attractive, tenants will want to use their own during their tenancy.
Find out more hints and tips on our blog.
Where should I buy furniture from?
While this depends on your budget, it’s always a good idea to check for good quality second hand items as a starting point.
- You can often pick up fantastic second hand furniture on a tight budget on websites such as Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Shpock. You could also try an auction, second-hand shops or charity shops.
- It’s better to make sure you’ve checked the furniture properly before agreeing to take it with you, as tenants don’t want to settle into their new home filled with tatty furniture and mismatched items. It’s better to have an unfurnished property than have a tenant unhappy with the way it’s been furnished.
- Though you can pick up some great deals, you’ll want to be careful of bed bugs. Read up online about the common signs of bed bugs and inspect the furniture for bed bugs before taking it.
If you’re concerned about buying second-hand furniture, try out the likes of Ikea for some budget furniture which is at a good standard and modern looking. Ikea also has a fantastic Scandinavian style which is perfect for lettings properties. You want to furnish a property well to attract tenants, which you can still do on a budget.
Buy practical furniture to suit the space
Consider the number of tenants and how they will use the space. If you lived there, what would you need?
- If the property is a larger property for a family, consider how many sofas and chairs you may need or how big the table needs to be. If you have a large dining room or living room and two or more bedrooms, you’ll want to think about being able to seat six at a dining table and on the sofas.
- If it’s particularly suited to young families, consider whether more than one single bed should go in a bedroom or if doubles are more suitable, or whether there may need to be space for a cot. It may be worth waiting until you’ve got a tenant and discuss what they need before they move in.
- If the property is particularly small, you’ll want space-saving flexi furniture such as dining tables which can fold down, sofa beds and foldaway desks. Think stools which can be tucked away rather than big and bulky chairs and smaller chairs and sofas rather than oversized armchairs.
- Storage is always a problem in small properties, so think of inventive ways to create more. Try shelving if you can’t fit in a chest of drawers or a very tall wardrobe which maximises space. Try storage boxes which fit under the bed and cupboard organisers.
Recommended basic furnishing guide for a fully furnished rental property
- Sofa/chairs (three-seater and one additional chair, or two two-seaters)
- Coffee table
- Bed, mattress and mattress protector (preference for double beds or larger)
- Chest of drawers
- Bedside table
- Wall mounted mirror
- White goods
- Matching crockery, glasses and cutlery (one bedroom property requires four sets then additional two sets per additional bedroom)
- Basic cooking utensils
- Basic kitchenware (chopping board, casserole-style dish, baking trays, colander, sieve, measuring jug, washing up bowl, dish drainer, three pots, frying pan/wok)
- Toaster, kettle
- Ironing board, iron, brush, dustpan and brush, mop and bucket
- Rubbish bin
- Dining table for the kitchen-diner or dining room (four chairs minimum for one bedroom or six chairs for two bedrooms or more)
If you expect the garden to be maintained, basic garden tools should be provided.
Provide basic maintenance tools for the property to prevent unnecessary call outs, including:
- A set of ladders
- Basic tool kit
- Radiator key
Although not directly related to rental property furnishing it’s always worth giving the property a professional clean before each new tenant. It means you can charge tenants for cleaning at the end of their tenancy if the benchmark is set at the first stage and the property was cleaned for them.
Fire safety laws
- It’s a legal requirement that all soft and upholstered furnishings in rental homes, including mattresses and sofas, are fire-resistant, so make sure they have a fire-safety label attached. If they don’t, check with the retailer that they comply with regulations.
- Several firms sell off-the-shelf furniture packages for different budgets and types of tenant. They aren’t the cheapest option but they’re good for landlords who are short of time or inspiration and this way you know they’re safe if a company is doing the checking for you.
- As a landlord you will be responsible for keeping electrical appliances such as toasters, microwaves and lamps in good repair. Though it’s lovely to provide tenants with these items, be aware of this. Most white goods such as an oven, hob, fridge and washing machine are expected, but others such as small portable kitchen appliances and lamps are often brought by the tenant, saving you extra work, money and hassle.
- You can’t deduct the cost of furnishing a property from your tax bill, but items which you have repaired or replaced are tax deductible.
- Be prepared to replace furnishings after a few years. The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) guidelines are that all furnishings should be depreciated over 7 years. You therefore should expect some wear and tear and be willing to replace some furnishings during the course of owning your property investment.
Find out more about Zoom995’s lettings services here. We provide plenty of advice for landlords and prospective landlords to make the process of renting properties as smooth as possible. Get in touch with us today on 0333 358 3095 and let us help you find a tenant for your property.