Do tenants prefer a furnished or unfurnished property?

Do tenants prefer a furnished or unfurnished property?

It’s a tricky question to answer, as it really is just personal preference.

Some landlords prefer to rent just the shell of the property and leave furnishing to the tenants, while others run very successful furnished property portfolios.

Surveys suggest that around 60% of tenants prefer to rent an unfurnished property. This may be true for a number of reasons – from wanting to invest in pieces that are to their taste to wanting to put their own stamp on their rented home.

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However, this can really vary depending on the type of area your property is in and the type of tenant you’re looking for.

Who are you looking for?

To answer this question, it’s best to figure out what sort of tenants you’re hoping to attract. Would they want furniture provided?

For example, if your property is located in a student town and you’re looking to attract students, they are on a pretty tight budget so are going to be looking for a furnished property. The same is true if you are renting out a HMO; as these properties are traditionally rented by graduates and young professionals taking their first steps in their career, potentially in a new city, they’re likely to also be grateful for furnishings as it’s one less expense for them.

Short term lets are another type of let that will do better furnished – it’s unlikely that someone is going to want to move all their furniture in and out over the course of a few months.

If any of these are what you are looking for, it’s best to invest in some basic, neutral furniture.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to rent your property for the long term, perhaps to a family with children, it’s far more likely your tenants will want to put their own stamp on the property with their own furniture.

Where are you located?

It seems a strange question to ask, but furnished properties do better in large towns and cities. These areas tend to attract the young professionals and graduates we mentioned earlier, who would be grateful for a furnished property. 

What’s the cost to furnish a property?

Basic furniture for a furnished property includes:

  • A sofa
  • Coffee table
  • Bookcase
  • TV
  • Table and chairs
  • Bedframe and mattress
  • Desk and chair (especially important now that so many work from home at least part of the week!)
From somewhere like IKEA, with technology from Currys, this should set you back around £900 – £1,000 for a one bedroom flat. This will obviously scale up and down, depending on the size of your property.

You should definitely consider this an investment in your property. Rather than go for the cheapest option, choose items that are likely to last. Remember, you will be responsible for fixing or replacing any broken or damaged items, so it’s worth investing in longevity, as this will save you money in the long run.

What’s the cost to maintain a furnished property?

As mentioned, this will depend on the furniture you buy – cheaper things that break easily or just don’t last, will likely cost you much more over time.

There are also some legal requirements that will cost you.

Furniture, including soft furnishings like curtains, must conform to the legal fire-resistant standard and all sofas, chairs and mattresses should carry labels as proof that they meet this standard. If yours don’t, look to replace them as soon as possible!

New regulations came in on 1st April 2020, that all tenancies must have an electrical installation condition report (EICR). This means that all new and existing tenancies must have one, and all landlords must ensure that electrical safety standards are met and that the property is regularly inspected and tested.

PAT testing isn’t yet a legal requirement in England and Wales, but while you’re getting your EICR, it’s best to get all of your electrical items – fridges, washing machines, toasters, etc. – tested, just in case!

Can you be flexible?

Every landlord’s dream is a long-term tenant who loves the property as if it were their own, but to get that perfect tenant, you need to be flexible.

Open up communication to potential tenants and see what they’re looking for. Would you be willing to compromise for the right person if they wanted it part-furnished, for example? 

Can you charge more for a furnished property?

OnTheMarket research suggests you can – around 21% more than the same flat, unfurnished. But remember, that’s only if you find a tenant who wants it furnished. If your target tenant tends to prefer unfurnished, you’ll struggle to find someone so won’t be making 21% extra on anything!

It’s worth taking your time to do some research on RightMove and Zoopla, to see what the local area tends towards. If you have space to store excess furniture, you could also advertise your property as ‘furnished or unfurnished’.

Whatever you do – the best advice we can offer is not to make a snap decision! Consider what is right for your property and your potential tenant, before you splash the cash!

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