The choice between letting a rental property furnished or unfurnished (or part-furnished) is an important decision for every landlord to make. It entirely depends on your target tenant, and the type of property itself.
For houses or flats that offer temporary accommodation, such as holiday lets or company lets (where a company rents a property on behalf of an employee), letting the property just makes mores sense in the same way that you wouldn’t expect a hotel guest or a bed-and-breakfast guest to bring their own furniture with them. Holiday tenants and employee tenants will have their own “main home”, and so are unlikely to be bringing any furniture with them to move in. This may also be the case when letting to asylum seekers or even some council tenants on social housing, as they’ll have limited funds to furnish the property themselves.
If you provide university accommodation to student tenants, you may find that there’s even a minimum standard required for furnishing the property so you should always double-check what’s required of you to provide in your particular case. The most obvious inclusion for a student bedroom is a desk for studying.
First-time tenants or young professionals who are just moving in may also not have their own furniture yet. Furnished property doesn’t only target those who aren’t in a position to furnish the property themselves; for some, it is simply a matter of choice. It’s easier to just move into an already furnished home without dealing with the hassle of buying all new things. They may even be saving up for the deposit of their own future home, and avoiding buying any furniture until they have a place that they can rightfully call theirs. Others who are comfortable in the knowledge that they’ll be renting long-term may be more inclined to purchase their own furniture and decor from day one.
Bedsits and HMOs with multiple storeys will typically let the property furnished, as navigating bulky items up and down stairs and in and out of elevators is no easy feat and may cause damage to the property or even cause injury to those doing the moving. There are some real horror stories of tenants who have difficulty moving the sofa back out, and so resort to pushing it from their window or balcony and causing some serious damage… It’s far easier to just rent these types of apartments furnished, to prevent any unnecessary stress and complications.
Any furniture that you do provide should comply with fire safety regulations, and be of good enough quality to withstand long-term use so that you won’t have to replace it too frequently or even at all. This doesn’t mean that it has to be brand new and expensive (although, if you are letting high-end luxury apartments in the city, then it may be something worth considering to justify a higher rent), but it should ideally be neutral to adapt to whoever moves in.
Alternatively, you could let the property part-furnished. This may include a few basic items, such as the carpet, curtains, and white goods, but affords the tenant the ability to choose their own sofa, chairs, and beds, based on their own style and preferences.
Families who are moving into a new property will most likely be bringing along their own furniture from their previous home, so are the unlikeliest category for wanting a furnished home. Similarly, most long-term tenants with a long history of renting will also have acquired their own furniture over the years. If you are specifically looking for families or long-term tenants, letting unfurnished may be the wiser choice. They invest more both financially and emotionally into their home, and are less likely to want to move out anytime soon. Another benefit is that you don’t have to worry about the condition of the furniture, nor are you responsible for replacing it if it becomes damaged.
One solution that covers all bases, if you have lots of storage space elsewhere in your portfolio, is to offer a choice to tenants whether they would like to rent furnished or unfurnished. This casts a wider net when searching for tenants, opening the property up to a larger rental market. Some prospective tenants may fall in love with your furnished property, but would like to move in their own furniture, and vice versa. Though not every landlord can provide this choice, for those who can it also gives you the flexibility to offer two different rent amounts based on whether the let property will be furnished or not. For example, for a higher monthly rent amount (it could be £20 extra; it could be £200 – depending on what the tenant needs), you could include a couple of sofas, a television, a microwave, a bed, a fridge, etc. The tenant would essentially be renting the items from you as part of their tenancy agreement.
If you do choose to let your property furnished or part-furnished, you will want to consider landlord contents insurance. This will cover your own contents, but will not cover your tenants’ so they will have to insure their own personal effects separately. Contents insurance is different to landlord buildings insurance in that it basically covers everything that’s not fixed to the building itself. If the removal of it would damage the property, then it comes under buildings insurance. You should be aware that contents insurance does not cover reasonable wear and tear that should be expected if a tenant has lived in the property for a while. What it will do, however, is give you peace of mind that if a fire breaks out, a tenant accidentally damages your furniture, or in the event of a burglary, your contents can be replaced.