To let a property furnished or unfurnished?

February 8, 2017

For a landlord deciding whether to let a property furnished or unfurnished can be a tough call.  Furnishing a house will command a higher market rent but will cost the landlord upfront, ensure compliance with fire and safety legislation and ensure the items supplied are maintained to a good working order. Alternatively providing a property unfurnished will command a lower rent but comes without many of the hassles of maintenance.  In reality, there is no hard and fast rule; it’s largely down to you as a landlord and your rental strategy.

A furnished property is most likely to appeal to those who move frequently or who haven’t accumulated furnishings or appliances of their own. Students and young working professionals often fall in to this category and with the cost of a  rental deposit, letting fees etc. a prospective tenant can often see the benefit of not having to pay out  further to purchase expensive items. Providing a furnished flat does come with additional responsibilities for a landlord however – all electrical appliances supplied must be safe and fit for purpose which normally involves having an annual PAT test completed. Similarly any soft furnishings left in the property must be fire safe.

On the flip side, tenants that move into an unfurnished property with all their own furniture are likely to want a longer tenancy as the cost of moving again is far higher both in time and money. Offering an unfurnished property also means as a landlord you are not responsible for insuring the contents of property and don’t have to worry about the ongoing maintenance of appliances or wear and tear. Many landlords severely over-estimate the official ‘life-span’ of decoration, furniture and appliances so can be very disappointed with monies apportioned if an item needs replacing due to tenant damage. Click through for a breakdown of the Wear and Tear calculations normally applied.

Part-furnished is a third option that in theory offers greater flexibility for both tenants and landlords, but in our experience can be the most difficult to manage. The formula relies on the tenant and the landlord having the perfect ‘yin and yang’ of furniture and white goods owned. For example how do you agree if the landlord’s or the tenant’s washing machine is included in the let when they both have one? What impact will that have on the advertised rent and where is the other one going to be stored? As a letting agent we typically advise against letting out a property part-furnished due to the complications it adds. Of course there is a certain attraction in offering a part-furnished property as a way of avoiding the disposal of items already in a property. This can very easily be a false economy though. If for example a washing machine is already past its recognised life span (3 – 5 years) and breaks then the landlord will have to invest in  the full cost of a new washing machine or pay for the repair of the existing one.

If you’re unsure as to which type of let would be best for you, contact your local Northwood team who would be more than happy to advise you on the best possible option for you.

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