Should I Furnish My Let Property or Not

Should I Furnish My Let Property or Not?

Letting Focus asks, whether or not you should furnish a let property.

In any decision about this, the key issues should always be driven by speed of letting (avoiding void periods) and maximising the net rent.

If you are in the business of providing serviced accommodation or are in the holiday let business, obviously, you fully furnish a property.

If not, what is best will depend upon the needs of the local market.

But even then, there are no hard and fast rules and it can pay to be flexible as far as this is possible.

It’s always useful to ask a letting agent for their advice and to scan the market – to see what tenants who are looking for want in terms of furnishing! And get a sense of what the market is offering for properties like yours by looking at Rightmove or Zoopla.

Outiside of the serviced accommodation market, the different “tenant markets” can be broken down into 1) students, 2) young professionals 3) families, 4) expats, 5) corporate tenants, 6) those in receipt of benefits, 7) where your “tenant” is the local authority letting it under a private sector leasing deal to people in housing need.

And within those rough categorizations, some groups fall into more than one category, of course.

To Furnish or Not?

I would say, that in broad terms the only tenants who may usually want the fully furnished option are those on short term lets – where tenants typically may be an executive (possibly an expatriate worker or maybe someone from “out of town” on a temporary secondment) and typically working for a bank say & who wants a crash pad for the few hours he is not working. This end of the market, is, of course, a type of serviced accommodation. Where the contract is longer term than a few weeks or months, they may bring their families and demand unfurnished or just part-furnished. But bringing the family is the exception and in this market people will be generally looking for short term lets. And in this market segment you are often competing with hotels– hence the need, usually, for fully furnished. Your tenant’s rent may be being paid by the company who he / she works for, so you’ll need to validate the company as part of normal referencing processes.

Students renting house sharers may also expect more furnishings – and for there to be at least a sofa, table and possibly beds as well as all the usual white goods and TV. The arrival of companies like Unite and Emipric have raised the bar these days and “Young Ones” type of student accommodation may not be acceptable to todays’ students, especially overseas students.

In my time, I have let to all the other types of groups myself and I would say that it is possible to get away with “part furnished” – which in itself can mean a lot of different things to different people – but to most it means white goods only or, in a few cases, with the addition of a sofa and possibly a bed in the way of furnishings.

Families, (including those on local housing allowance), seem to have a preference for unfurnished as they usually with have all their own kit, including often, white goods. However, most will still want you to provide a cooker.

Where your tenant is a housing association/ local authority letting under a long lease from you and then subletting to tenants in housing need, they seem to prefer unfurnished in most cases.

So, for my properties which are mostly 2 and 3 bed flats and houses in Kent and South London, I tend to go for “part furnished” and that does me fine! I get tenants, no problem. Sure, I do lose a few prospective who want more furnishings – but not that many. And if I really like the tenant and they would prefer a few furnishings, I can always cut the rent a bit to get the tenant – and that way they can use the extra cash from the saved rent to get their own stuff. That usually works a treat. So, my advice is to be flexible, as far as you are able.

Advantages Of Letting Unfurnished

There are also some big pros of letting unfurnished or only part furnished……

  1. No need to worry about whether your soft furnishings comply with fire safety regulation. If you don’t supply any, then the problem is solved.
  2. No need for you to get expensive contents insurance, though many buildings insurances will include a small amount of content cover for things like white goods.
  3. Cuts the time to do the inventory – also thereby saving on some cost if you have someone else (a letting agent or inventory clerk) do this for you. (We advise you should hire a professional inventory clerk to do one, this will protect you in the event of damage beyond fair wear and tear).
  4. Less stuff to get damaged, so less chance of a dispute / arguments/ hassle at end of tenancy. Fairly obvious and linked to point 4, above!
  5. Tenants with their own stuff tend to stay longer. They really do!
  6. Tenants with their own stuff are more likely to appreciate the work that has gone into a property, therefore are less likely to default on rent.

If you let with some furnishings you used to be able to claim 10% wear and tear allowance off the net rent under old tax rules. This changed with effect from 6th April 2017. Now you can only claim for when you renew an item. Another Osborne change that many landlords say they could have done without.

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