It’s an important question, a common dilemma and a key consideration for anyone who might be planning to enter the buy-to-let market. Should you let your property out furnished or unfurnished? Like most common dilemmas, there are pros and cons, positives and negatives on either side and persuasive arguments to support both.
In some respects, there is no right or wrong answer and, ultimately, it often comes down to circumstances, financial resources and personal preference. You might choose to create the perfect home for prospective tenants, or you might decide to leave a blank canvas and let them stamp their own mark.
The choice is yours and, furnished or not, getting into the buy-to-let market can reap great rewards, with rental properties a great method for securing a second income. Still unsure about which path to take? Our guide to furnished and unfurnished rentals will tackle all the main issues.
Furnished, unfurnished and part-furnished
You might expect such terms to be defined in law, but the truth is that ‘furnished’, ‘unfurnished’ and ‘part-furnished’ are descriptions open to interpretation. Our best advice is to exercise common sense. Furnished properties should be a ‘home-from-home’, with everything included and no need for tenants to traipse along to IKEA.
Unfurnished rentals include minimal fixtures and fittings – think carpets, and bathroom and kitchen essentials, but not much more.
Part-furnished flats and houses are somewhere between the two. Landlords might include beds and sofas, but omit soft furnishings, coffee tables, lamps and other luxuries. Still not sure? Talk to your letting agent.
Furnished property pros
If there’s one major advantage to offering a furnished property, it’s that you can usually charge a higher rental amount. It stands to reason really, and this is often the main factor that sways a prospective landlord’s decision. Creating that ‘home-from-home’ environment means maximising income, but it also makes your property more tempting to tenants and can help to attract different demographics.
Students and young professionals with little or no furniture will jump at the chance to rent a ready-made home, whilst those seeking options for short-term lets during a temporary relocation or placement will also be more interested.
Furnished property cons
If the pros are obvious, there are also some important cons to consider. For one thing, furnishing a flat or house is expensive, and you’ll need to have the resources to do this before starting to collect a rental income. For another, you’ll need to replace and update furniture that is beginning to look a little past it, whilst the responsibility for fixing and replacing broken items will be yours.
Furnished properties do attract renters, but a lack of personal possessions means it’s easier for them to move on, and a high turnover of tenants is to be expected.
Unfurnished property pros
For landlords considering the unfurnished approach to letting a property, there are numerous positives to take into account. There are fewer worries about wear and tear, for one thing, and no responsibility for breakages, as the furniture within the property will belong to the tenant.
Inventories are much shorter as a result – saving much time and effort – and occupants who bring their own furniture tend to be less demanding and lower maintenance. If furnished properties tend to lead to a high turnover of tenants, the opposite is true when it comes to unfurnished flats and houses. Renters tend to want to stick around for longer once their own furniture is in – and that’s never a bad thing.
Unfurnished property cons
If furnished properties can command higher rents, the obvious flip side is that unfurnished flats and houses may limit a landlord’s maximum income potential. Think about it: you’re just renting out an empty space, four walls and a roof, and tenants moving into a furnished home will typically be willing to pay more for all those all-important extras and the chance to live in a ready-made rental property.
Unfurnished properties are less attractive to some accommodation seekers and, in limiting the target market, it can be more difficult to find a suitable tenant. It might be easier to go unfurnished, but this is an option that’s not without its limitations.
Things to consider
There’s a great deal to take into account when deciding between the furnished and unfurnished approach, and those still pondering this important question must leave no stone unturned. Think about safety standards and compliance, Council Tax considerations and all the implications for insurance and be sure to think it through carefully.
If after all this the dilemma is still too great, speak to your letting agent and be sure to voice all your concerns. Should you let your property out furnished or unfurnished? The correct answer is out there for your own situation, so don’t be afraid to ask for more help when trying to find it.