To Furnish, or Not To Furnish?

Whether it’s a ten-bedroom house or a studio flat, the question of whether to furnish a property meant to be rented out is one that we often get asked by landlords. There are no rules when it comes to offering a property furnished or unfurnished – it’s completely up to you whether you offer it with bare walls and floorboards or with every possible kind of furniture, kitchenware, garden tools, kitchen sink (see what we did there?). Furnished properties can produce a higher rental yield and let more quickly than unfurnished properties, but the main thing to bear in mind is that the decision you make will affect the kind of tenant you find.

Is there ever a ‘must’ for furnishing properties?

If your property is a seven-bed student house in the heart of Cathays, then furnishing is a must for you! Students are unlikely to have any of their own furniture, especially as they may move house once a year, so student tenants will not look at unfurnished properties. Young professionals will also often prefer furnished properties – they might be more affluent than students, but they’ll often be graduates who haven’t built up their own collection of furnishings yet.

Who looks for unfurnished properties?

Established career professionals and young families will have accrued their own bits and pieces over the years they’ve been renting, and are likely to be drawn to something unfurnished or white goods only, as it gives them space to bring their own lives with them. Over the years, we’ve found that tenants with their own furniture are more likely to look for longer tenancies, not least because moving is a big logistical effort! Longer tenancies are advantageous for landlords – plus, of course, you won’t be responsible for the wear and tear to your tenants’ furniture.

I’m flexible on furnishings. Do I need to decide one way or the other?

Flexibility is always a bonus! We’re able to advertise properties as ‘flexible on furnishings’ in order to maximise the appeal to potential tenants – we’ll just let you know whether they want it furnished or unfurnished when they agree to take the place.

I don’t have storage space for the furniture in my properties – what if tenants ask me to take it away?

If tenants want furniture removed from the property, they can request it of you, but you do have the right to say no. They’ve rented the property ‘as seen’, so if they’ve agreed to take it furnished and you genuinely don’t have the capacity to remove items at their request, you’re not obliged to.

What are the drawbacks of furnishing?

There will always be concerns on tenant damage to furnishings within a property, and you’ll need to have an inventory to keep track of what’s there and what condition it’s in. You’ll also need to make sure that all furnishings in the property adhere to safety standards for fire resistance. Another good idea is for you to carry out a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) to ensure that all electrical goods are in good order and are safe to use.

Do I need to insure my contents in the property?

You aren’t legally obliged to take out contents insurance, but it’s a very good idea to do so. It’s up to the tenants to insure their items, but we strongly suggest that you protect yours too.

How do I protect myself against tenants damaging items I’ve left at the property?

It’s imperative that you have a record of everything in the property and its condition before the start of each tenancy. This will help you to keep track of the wear and tear on the furniture, and whether any of it is tenant damage. Many landlords hire an inventory agent who will make a detailed list of the property’s contents before a tenancy begins.

Are council tax exemptions for empty properties affected by furnishings?

Yes. There are two types of council tax exemptions you can apply for:

  • Class C exemption applies to unoccupied, unfurnished properties. The exact amount of exemption varies from one council to another, though in many cases it is a 100% discount for a maximum of six months.
  • Furnished properties can be given an ‘unoccupied discount’. Some councils offer 10%, others 50%. The discount runs up to the end of the tax year and you may have to reapply the following year.

Get in touch with your local council for specific details on what discounts might apply to your property.

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