If you are trying to decide whether to let your property furnished or unfurnished, there are a number of factors you should to take into account such as property type, tenant demand, the overall risks and responsibilities involved and rental return. Landlords should certainly not make the decision based on their own personal bias or preferences.
There is no obligation to let a property furnished and there is no legal definition or minimum requirements as to what needs to be in a property for it to be considered ‘furnished’. In some cases, furnished could mean the provision of everything including cups and saucers and in other instances could constitute the provision of just a bed and sofa. Very often, a more sparsely furnished property is called ‘part furnished’. The key thing is to ensure that any advertising of the property provides a detailed description of what is included as part of the rental so there is no confusion and disappointment for tenants.
Key considerations in making a decision
The key considerations when deciding whether or not to let out a property furnished are property location, type and overall tenant demand.
In certain parts of the country, furnished rental property is more common. In cities such as Liverpool and Manchester where there are lots of young professionals and large student populations, the demand for furnished accommodation is considerably higher than areas like Goring-by-Sea and Worthing. Similarly, in some cities such as London, there are a large number of Corporate lets which also increases the demand of for furnished property.
In terms of property type, flats are generally attractive to younger and more transient people and hence tend to be more appropriate for letting on a furnished basis. In contrast, larger houses and properties suited to families are better let on an unfurnished basis, as tenants of these properties have typically acquired their own furniture over a number of years.
Also, remember that any furniture used should be complementary to the property and consistent with the needs of the target tenant. If you have a modern studio apartment aimed at young professionals, you certainly don’t want to fill it with your grandparent’s surplus furniture and crockery.
Benefits to letting a property furnished
- Based on the location of the property, letting it out furnished could allow it ‘stand out from the crowd’ if there are few other competitive properties that are being offered furnished. While this strategy could limit the overall pool of target tenants that you have, it is a good way to differentiate your property. Irrespective of location, there will always be some level of demand for furnished property and if you are one of the few properties available, it should not take too long to let.
- Very often, tenants looking for furnished property move quickly as they don’t have to organise removal companies and there are fewer logistics involved. This can help landlords reduce void periods.
- Furnished properties can often command more rent than unfurnished, typically achieving a 5-10% premium.
The negatives of letting a property furnished
- As a general rule, tenants who occupy rented property tend to be more transient and stay for shorter durations. This means that landlords can suffer increased void periods and higher costs to find new tenants.
- Any furniture, furnishings and appliances that are provided with the property must meet the minimum legal safety standards. Furniture must comply with the requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations 1988. Consequence of non-compliance is liability to a fine of upto £5,000 and/or imprisonment. Any blinds must comply with regulations with regard to blind chains and cords and consequence of noncompliance is civil liability and potential criminal prosecution. And finally, while not a legal requirement, it is best practice to perform a PAT test on any appliances supplied with the property.
- It obviously costs money to furnish a property, however you will receive an allowance for the furniture as a tax deduction.
- Your insurance costs are likely to go up as you will need to place specific contents insurance to cover the furniture provided.
- The wear and tear and damage that you experience might be more considerable. It’s a fact of life that people tend to look after things more if they own them. This can lead to an increased number of maintenance issues as there are more things to ‘break’ or ‘stop working’ at the property.
- You will need to conduct a very detailed inventory, not only of the property, but also of the furniture and furnishings before each tenancy.
There is no right or wrong answer and before you make a final decision it might be worth talking to a couple of local letting agents to try to gauge the level of demand in the location your property is situated. Giving due consideration to the property type, rental premium and the risks involved should help you make a more informed decision.