Is it better to let a furnished or unfurnished property?

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5 Aug 2015

Is it better to let a furnished or unfurnished property?

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Deciding whether to let a property fully furnished or unfurnished is a decision landlords should base not only on their personal circumstances but on the demand from tenants, to ensure minimal void periods.

“There is no right or wrong answer” comments Richard Chambers, Lettings Manager at Romans Reading, “and the type of property and location often determine whether it’s best to provide furnishings or not.

“In my experience of the Reading marketplace specifically, most of the apartments we let on behalf of landlords are furnished, compared to approximately half of the larger houses. This is mainly due to the tenant demand; apartments are often rented by young professionals who don’t own furniture and are looking for a modern home, whereas larger homes are rented by families who have accumulated their own furniture over the years and prefer to put their own mark on the property.

“These are, of courUnfurnished propertyse, very general assumptions and it’s important to seek advice from an experienced local letting agent before you make a decision on whether to furnish your rental property or not, as tenant types can vary dramatically from one town to the next. For example, in towns such as Camberley, Fleet, Maidenhead and Wokingham a majority of the properties currently available to let with Romans are unfurnished, whereas in Reading 80% all of the properties to let are furnished, with some landlords offering an option of furnished or unfurnished.”

Often landlords make the decision to furnish their rental property based on their personal circumstances. If, for example, you’ve inherited a property and you decide to let it out you may find it’s already furnished, or if you’re moving away for a while and you want to let out your home it’s often easier to leave the furnishings in place.

What constitutes a furnished property?

There is no legal definition for what constitutes a ‘furnished’ property. However, as a general rule of thumb, if you are advertising a property as furnished tenants will expect the following items to be provided:

  • A bed, wardrobe and/or chest of drawers in the bedrooms
  • A sofa in the living room
  • A table and chairs, if there is a dining area
  • White goods in the kitchen, including a fridge, freezer, cooker, and washing machine*
  • Soft furnishings throughout the property, such as carpets/wooden flooring and curtains/blinds*

*These items are also expected to be included in unfurnished properties

If you decide to let a property as furnished, you will need to make sure that all the furniture provided meets legal safety standards, including fire safety regulations, whereby all fabric furniture, such as sofas, must have labels proving that they meet this standard.

Also note that if you advertise a property as fully furnished tenants will expect to be able to move straight in, similar to a holiday rental, with items such as crockery, cooking utensils, and a TV included.

The benefits of letting a furnishFurnished propertyed property

  • If you already have furniture in the house it saves you the cost of removal and storage
  • It saves tenants money as they don’t need to buy their own furniture
  • You can often increase the rental price if it’s a furnished property
  • Once the tenancy has ended you still own the furniture, which you could sell or use for yourself
  • Your property may let faster than an unfurnished property, depending on the property type, location and demand from tenants

The benefits of letting an unfurnished property

  • You save money as you don’t need to pay for any furniture
  • It could quickly attract tenants with their own furniture who don’t want to pay for storage
  • If you decide the sell the property you don’t need to worry about removing furniture
  • You are not responsible for insuring tenants’ furniture
  • You have less concerns over general wear and tear if the tenant is providing their own furniture

Until recently, landlords renting furnished properties could claim a wear and tear allowance of 10% of the net rent. Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Summer Budget that this benefit will be replaced with a new version from April 2016. Before, landlords could claim wear and tear allowance even if there had been no actual expenditure, but the new allowance will only enable landlords to deduct the costs they actually incur on replacing furnishings in the property. The positive news is that all landlords, whether you let a furnished or unfurnished property, will be able to make claims against the new wear and tear allowance.

To find out more about the pros and cons of letting furnished or unfurnished properties book an appointment with the lettings team at your local Romans branch on 01344 985 699.

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