What Furniture Should Landlords Provide?

Holy moly. The gaps between my blog posts are getting dangerously long now!

D’Know what the funny thing is? To help boost my horrendously low productivity levels I recently purchased a ‘disability over-bed table’ – yes, just like the one’s you see in hospitals and nursing homes next to the piss-filled bedpans, although my particular model isn’t the colour of oatmeal, it’s chromed out like an Italian espresso machine, but nonetheless, still found in the ‘Mobility, Disability & Medical’ section on Amazon.

Here you go, check it:

Overbed table

I’m not one to relish lie-ins or spending more time in bed than necessary, but the idea behind my recent acquisition was to make the moments I do spend in bed a little more productive with my laptop. NOW DON’T GET ME WRONG, I’m productive in bed as much as the next testosterone-induced lumberjack, but work-wise I could do with a little more encouragement.

While it hasn’t come to any real personal surprise, I can still disappointingly say that so far I’ve eaten dinner off it, rested my iPad on it while streaming YouTube videos, and used it as a permanent resting ground for my remote controls. And not much else.

Extraordinary fail.

So right now I’m just a perfectly healthy middle-aged Wally with disability equipment in his bedroom for no apparent reason. On a sidenote, do you think this constitutes as bad karma? Kind of like how some people use walking sticks as fashion accessories. Fucking idiots.

It’s sadly very ironic that the tool I purchased to help boost my productivity has had the complete opposite effect on me.

Anyways…

Ordinarily, as many of you already know, I usually start my blog posts with relatively lengthy and aimless insights into my current personal life (like I just have), and then abruptly jump onto a pre-assigned landlord issue. There’s never any real connection or flow between my intro and the core subject matter. In fact, I’m sure it’s utterly baffling for the one-off readers’ that arrive on my blog in search for landlord related information, but find themselves 6 or 7 sentences deep into a post titled, “How to terminate a tenancy agreement“, only to be still reading my ramblings on how I managed to dislodge a mushroom-stalk from my ear-canal after accidentally getting it stuck in there over the weekend, or something as equally stupid and irrelevant.

Lord only knows how disorientating and confusing that must be. They must think this website is an absolute joke and orchestrated by one sick-fuck. Don’t say a word.

However, this time I’m going to FLOW LIKE CRAZY, just like ‘Jam Master Jay’ (for those sinfully uncool, he’s an American musician/DJ with more flow in his pinky than the seminal fluid you were conceived by)… I’m going to stick with the ‘furniture’ theme.

What furnishings should landlords provide in a BTL?

My answer: None (kinda’).

Failing that, assuming there’s a gun the size of a dinosaur pointing at your head, provide the very bear minimum. My general rule of thumb is to always keep it simple.

Unfurnished BTL Property

To be honest, I’m not even going to try and do the honourable thing by being objective about the issue; I’m going to be a complete ignoramus- this will be going all one way.

While I’m sure many of you can provide glowing furniture-based success stories, I can say through personal experience that for the most part, none of the pros outweigh the long-term reasons for avoiding the practice like a pile of dogshit. In 97% of cases, providing furniture doesn’t make any sense. I’m actually surprised so many landlords provide furnished properties, and I say that on the basis that the vast majority don’t do it, and with impeccably good reasoning.

1) Increasing responsibility & maintenance costs

Let’s sling the obvious out of the way.

Mo’ furniture, mo’ problems.

I’m sure many landlords can quickly and actively make their lives a lot less difficult and expensive by removing the unnecessary fittings and furnishings they pointlessly provided in their BTL. Not mid-tenancy obviously (although that would be hilarious), but next time round.

The blatantly obvious point to remember is that the more you provide with your property, the more you’re making yourself responsible for; the more reasons you’re creating to be called upon when something falls on its knees and crumbles into disrepair. Each item you provide is like a loaded gun. If that concept doesn’t make you want to burn your furniture to ashes, nothing will.

I’ve discussed ‘minimising risks’ before (although I can’t remember in which posts for the life of me), particularly the benefits it can have on our health and profits, and how we should be looking to do it across the board with every decision; from finding tenants to furniture and fittings. MINIMISE RISK!

I think we can all agree that being contacted by a tenant because, for example, a £20 Ikea bedside table (…or a cool disability table) is ‘wonky’ and in need of maintenance sounds irritating beyond belief- and that’s because it is. It only gets more infuriating when it actually happens. So why put yourself in that position where you’re prone to that kind of senseless attack?

How many of you have actually been summoned because of a broken item that you actually didn’t need to provide in the first place for a successful let?

2) Disputes over damage and theft

I hear too many disputes about broken furniture and responsibilities. Not to mention, it’s not unheard of for items of furniture to miraculously go walkabouts. Either way, it’s usually such a gigantic waste of time

Generally, the tight-fisted landlord is the first to point blame for a broken item and the tenant is just as quick to deny all acknowledgement, so you end up with two disgruntled and unreasonable assholes pointing fingers at one another. That’s no fun.

The situation then escalates onto the tenancy deposits dispute resolution protocol, in which case the tenant almost always wins, usually because the landlord failed to compile a reliable inventory, or because the damage gets drawn up as fair wear and tear (even when it’s not).

You’ll be a blubbering mess then, won’t you?

Really, what’s the bloody point?

3) It’s easier to sell/dump the furniture

This is just so typical. Humans are natural born hoarders.

Landlords can’t be arsed to dispose of old/unwanted furniture, or they store items in their BTL believing they’ll call upon them in the future for personal use. However, the latter rarely ever happens, just like when we store junk in our lofts for later use, it almost always inevitably remains to collect mountains of dust and/or succulent rat-food.

Ultimately, you’re left with a delusional landlord that believes s/he’s hitting two birds with one stone; free storage and extra incentive for tenants. In reality, the hassle of providing furniture will trump both the mentioned ill-informed benefits.

Again, you’re creating more responsibility and maintenance unnecessarily. Either sell or dump your unwanted furnishings; stay clear from transforming your BTL into a storage unit for your own shit.

4) Furniture gets worn/out-dated

Furniture can be alienating if it’s total junk or doesn’t suit your prospective tenants taste, especially if it’s out-dated, worn or cheap. And if it’s not out-dated, it will be soon enough.

One of the best ways of minimizing void periods is to make your property suitable for as many prospective tenants as possible, furniture generally does the opposite, it creates limitations because you’re now catering to taste.

5) Void from Council Tax Exemption

Depending on the politics of your local council, you may or may not be able to benefit from council tax relief during void periods. However, generally, exemption is usually always unavailable for furnished properties, because in theory, the property is still in ‘in use’… albeit, a glorified storage unit.

In real terms, if you have a furnished BTL property vacant for a month, you may have to pay the full £100 (approx) council tax fee.

6) Responsibility to restock

Over time, through historic and wisdom-filled events, you may realise that some furnishings and fittings are more prone to fair wear and tear than others, so you intelligently come to the conclusion that it doesn’t make any economic sense to continue restocking/repairing those items.

However, you stupidly sold your property on the basis that it comes with those items, so that means you need to ensure your property always has those items in exchange for the agreed rent…

What a glorious waste of money. What a freakin’ pickle.

7) Most rentals are unfurnished

If most rental properties are unfurnished, that means most tenants will have their own furniture and look for unfurnished properties. From my experience, most tenants want to transfer their own furniture, as opposed to sell their own before relocating, so they naturally look for ‘unfurnished’.

So again, you will drastically reduce the amount of interest in your property if you’re providing furniture, which could create longer and unnecessary vacant periods.

However, I will say one thing, in this booming rental market, where getting on the property ladder is near impossible for the average Joe, there shouldn’t be any real difficulties filling any type of vacant property, despite using ‘furnished property’ as bate. But it is a smaller audience, that’s all I’m saying.

8) The extra rent achieved doesn’t usually stack-up

This is my main gripe with providing furniture, the fact it usually doesn’t generate any extra income in the long-run. I’d actually go as far as to say it costs more by eating into profits.

Sure, you can charge more for furnished properties, but the extra you make usually won’t compensate for 1) the added time required to repair and maintain 2) the extra overall cost for maintenance 3) longer vacant periods 4) the increased potential for disputes 5) the extra admin required e.g. a more comprehensive inventory.

I’ve even gone as far as paying extra to remove features like a fireplace or air-con units, because I know that over the duration they’ll cost more than they’ll make me. That’s the key, calculating how much money the furniture will actually make you.

But let’s be real, furniture adds very little intrinsic value, if any.

9) Part-furnished is even more stupid than full-furnished

From what I understand, there’s no real legal definition of what constitutes as ‘furnished’, ‘part-furnished’ or ‘unfurnished’. But as a general consensus, we can assume that part-furnished implies a few randomly provided items like a table and a chest of drawers, minus a sofa, chairs and beds, just for example.

Opting for part-furnished is probably the dumbest biggest mistake of all potential scenarios, and it usually occurs because of my previous point, where landlords use their BTL’s as storage units.

The reality is, those part-furnishings won’t warrant or generate a single penny in extra rent, and will provide ZERO extra incentive to convince prospective tenants to pick your property over a completely unfurnished property- a singular chest of draws tucked away in a bedroom corner won’t have any impact, and you’re probably clinically insane if you think otherwise.

So the question has to be asked, WHY provide the random part-furnishings items? If the furniture isn’t making you money, it’s costing you money! Don’t fall victim to using your BTL as a storage unit, stick your shit on ebay or take a trip to your local dump…. or just start a fire and vaporize it all. Burn it all to the ground (safely and responsibly).

It has to be said, I’ve been guilty of this crime to some extent. I remember I used to leave random pieces of furnishings and fittings in my properties, usually clean/useful items that were left behind by previous tenants, stupid items like garden plant pots. In hindsight, I was just opening myself up for senseless attacks.

Now I ensure my tenants remove ALL their belongings during checkout. Any form of excess fat is a liability. Keep it lean and clean!

10) Contents Insurance

Depending on the quantity and value of the furniture provided, it may make good sense to extend your standard landlord building insurance to cover contents.

More costs. More costs. And more costs.

11) It’s cheaper not to buy furniture in the first place

I’m not entirely sure why this reason popped into my puny mind at the closing stages of my list- I may currently be dangerously dehydrated- because it probably should have been at the top. It’s so obvious.

Forget escalating repairing and maintenance costs for a moment, let’s go back to the very beginning, where buying furniture in the first place requires more start-up capital.

If you really need to spend that money (I have no idea why that would be the case, maybe some dumb tax surplus benefit, or something), it can definitely be spent in better areas. For example, I’d rather spend my hard-earned money on a workhorse boiler that will withstand the test of time. Trust me, the tenant will benefit far more, whether he/she realises it or not.

12) Tenants that buy their own furniture stay longer

Moving is a pain for everyone. Period.

I can think of a billion other sadistic and painful things I’d rather do to myself than pack all my shit up and move.

It could be argued that tenants with their own furniture will be more inclined to stay longer, purely because the prospect of moving is that much more profusely sickening (and potentially expensive). I’m not just talking about the agony of lugging it around, but also furniture is typically purchased to fit around specific room dimensions, and often retrofitted to make the perfect fit. Furniture can act like shackles in that sense! Brilliant.

Of course, this could either be an incredibly good or bad thing. But generally, we all want long-term tenants as long as they’re not utter idiots.

If a tenant’s worldly possessions consists of clothing and a few appliances and can be contained in a few boxes, there isn’t much of a barrier to relocate.

13) Encourages D.I.Y idiocy

The last thing a tenant wants to do is sacrifice their deposit because of a broken piece of furniture, and who can blame them?

Hello “bodge-job repairs”!

Tenants will do almost anything to recover their deposit in its entirety, and that includes patching together a broken table leg with a bit of pritt-stick. It’s usually good enough to fool the landlord on first inspection, but the reality often surfaces after the deposit has been returned and the in-between cleaning/tidying preparation commences. If you’re terribly unlucky, it will bypass your inspection, and the next set of tenants will fall victim to a collapsing table while indulging on spag-bol, and now they’re angry at the piece of shit furniture you provided.

Not good!

14) Can’t afford to furnish… what does that mean?

I’m not sure how fair this final point is, but I can see the logic behind it, so I’m going to toss it onto the pile, even if it’s just food for thought.

If a tenant is prepared to rent a £1,200PCM 2 bedroom property, but makes it clear they can’t afford to furnish, it could give you a good inclination of their state of finances. This could be a dangerously poor assumption to make, but something about the concept makes sense, especially when put into the right context. So unfurnished properties could act as a detoriant for tenants that don’t have much disposable income.

So there you have it, 14 solid reasons to fuck furniture right off, right?

I hear the pro-furniture brigade are like animal-rights activists, a proper lively bunch, so go easy on me if I triggered any chemically imbalanced rage. Despite popular belief, I’m here to love. Hard & fast.

The exceptions…

I can think of a few scenarios where providing furnishings can make sense, but generally speaking, these account for a very small portion of landlords in the grand scheme of things, and cover areas of landlording which I have no involvement with…

Short-term home let

If you’re looking to let your own home for a short-period, for 6-18 months, because you’re having a mid-life crisis and consequently wanting to travel the world, it can make sense to leave all the furniture in there. But don’t for one second expect them to be in the same condition as you left it.

No one will care about your precious possessions as much as you do, and that means no one will care if your chest of draws is an inherited family heirloom. It’s just another shitty chest of draws to everyone else.

4+ bedroom house

I’m not all that familiar with larger bedroom BTL properties. I don’t think they make for good rental investments, I think the sweet-spot is anywhere between 1-3 bedrooms. However, I can’t imagine many private tenants looking for a 4+ bedroom will have the means or urge to furnish such large properties, purely because of the ball-ache involved. For those without furniture, it could mean an extra 2k investment.

So if you’re letting a large property, it can make sense to furnish it. Having said that, since more and more people are being completely priced out of the market, including many families (that come with their own furniture), I suspect that larger rental properties are becoming more sought after, especially in ‘family-friendly’ neighborhoods.

So who knows, maybe unfurnished 4+ bedroom properties have hope. If so, definitely go for it (I would).

HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation)

Houses of multiple occupation generally come furnished, or at least, the communal areas do, similarly with communal lodger areas.

Holiday lets

This goes without saying, and it’s a completely different kettle of fish from standard BTL’s.

By all means, furnish your quaint little cottage in the Cotswolds with your best china and Grandpa’s rocking chair.

Student lets

I guess this accounts for not only students, but also people in their early-mid twenties too, both of which whom usually don’t have the experience or means to come attached with their own possessions beyond a camping bag full of grungy clothing, and a couple of novelty shot glasses.

To be more specific, I’d say this applies to flats in student/trendy areas, that attract the youth by the masses, areas like Shoreditch and Bricklane- areas my sprouting grey hairs would stick out like a bunch of sore thumbs. Sigh.

Whatever the exception, I’d keep the furniture to a bear minimum. And it’s always worth asking, “will providing furniture actually make a difference to the rentability?” In many cases, it won’t.

What I actually do provide in terms of fittings & furnishing…

Most of the following doesn’t constitute as “furniture” in my opinion, but I do want to make the distinct clarification, just in case some plonker walks away from here with completely the wrong idea- they wouldn’t be the first…

  • White goods
    ‘White goods’ are pretty essential, and can make all the difference to desirability.

    Most rentals come with some form of white goods, and it’s unlikely a tenant will want to splash out an extra £1k to buy their own. I’m sure they’d rather spend that extra money on a better property that comes with them supplied.

    I typically provide a fridge-freezer in my properties, I believe most tenants expect that at the very least. Anything more and you’ll notice a difference in maintenance costs and ’emergency calls’ from your tenants, because white goods are usually used and relied upon regularly (e.g. washing machines), so they’re prone to breakage, and when that happens, you’ll be the first to know.

  • Oven/Cooker
    All my properties have built in or free-standing cooker/oven combo- pretty standard as far as I’m concerned.

    Does anyone actually go without providing an oven/cooker? That’s taking ‘unfurnished’ to the next level. If so, may as well get your tenants to supply their own toilet, too.

  • Beds
    I can get on board with providing beds, particularly with in certain demographics, like flats in a student/trendy area. At least, providing a bed in the master bedroom should be enough.

    I think they can make a useful addition, and generally, a good sturdy bed won’t just collapse and die, so the investment won’t be excruciating. Of course, the good thing about beds is that they can mostly be styled by the duvet, so they shouldn’t cause any offense.

    Since everyone needs/wants a bed, it’s one of those features that can play a factor in winning over the crowd. However, mattresses, that’s another issue altogether, their life-cycle is horrendously short as they generally get covered in all kinds of congealed shit. Literally. So if I do provide a bed, it comes without a mattress.

  • Curtains/Blinds
    Believe me, it’s better that you properly fit curtain rails and provide neutral curtains yourself, as opposed to leaving it in the capable hands of your heavy-handed tenants. From my experience, that’s a sure-fire way of repossessing your property with nasty gaping holes above the window frames.

    I provide curtains with erectile joy (I have no idea what I actually mean by that, but assume it’s inappropriate).

  • Bathroom mirror and bathroom fittings
    For the same reasons as providing curtain rails, I provide a bathroom mirror. There are a few other fittings that can fall under the same scenario – inexpensive items that all tenants will inevitably need, so it’s easier/safer just to provide them- but it usually depends on a case-by-case basis, so I’ll leave it to your better judgement.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you provide furniture? Can you think of any other reasons to avoid furniture like the plague?

If you’re one of the weird one’s that do provide furniture, I’d also love to hear your stance (“love” is probably a grossly inaccurate description, but either way, go for it) xo

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47 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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Malcolm Smith 17th February, 2016 @ 19:00

My properties are all in London and the majority of my potential tenants expect the flat to be furnished with the following: bed(s), mattresses, sofa, dining table and chairs as well as white goods. In my experience potential tenants sometimes have their own beds but this is rare. That said most of my tenants are in their mid to late 20s so they haven't had time to accumulate lots of furniture.

I would struggle to rent my properties as unfurnished, in London potential tenants expect flats to come furnished.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 17th February, 2016 @ 20:03

@Malcom

I hear ya' in regards to the bed/mattress. Totally agree, particularly with certain demographics e.g. a flat in a trendy area full of youngish students.

Although, I'm not entirely convinced about the sofa, dining table and chairs (unless you're targeting students, which is a different ball-game). I'm sure they will help sway some punters, but I don't think it would be a deal breaker in this market. Dropping the rent by £40pcm for example, could be enough to win back interest.

Of course, I'm just speculating. I have one property in London in a similar area to what you described, and I've never had any issues. Obviously I don't have the volume to say much more though.

Interesting comment/thoughts though, many thanks!

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greenlady 18th February, 2016 @ 08:25

Your post is very interesting to read. I have been following your blog since becoming a landlord for the first time last month! I find all information so helpful to help me to self manage the flat. I have a flat in South London, in a gritty ish area (Croydon) and the rent is quite pricey for the area (£1100) and we had plenty of interest in the furnished flat because the decoration and details is eye-catching. We put it on the market through Christmas which is the worst time for landlords and had about 20 requests to view it within 2 weeks. (What would it be like during the Spring/Summer!?!) I don't think landlords will have a problem letting out a small furnished flat in London as long it is nice and clean to live in. The population is huge here! Our flat is one-bed so I think it is good as a starter flat for professional couples or singles (all ages).

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Zazie 18th February, 2016 @ 08:40

I let my properties unfurnished, just the w/m and fridge freezer as you've described. These are Brighton flats. I've not once been asked to provide anything other and sometimes a tenant will ask for a w/m to be removed if they have their own. I'm definitely in the keep it simple/ reduce the liability camp on this one.

I like the blog. Thanks.

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Matty 18th February, 2016 @ 08:43

One of my biggest bugbears is a wobbly kitchen table, so one of the tips iv picked up along the way is get a table with 3 legs, it will never be wobbly because of uneven leg lengths. Sounds like something trivial but it can be one of those annoying things you get called out for.
Mostly I let to students/interns/young professionals in HMO's and have found that they required fully furnished rooms. Occasionally they have their own beds and a bookshelf but thats about it.
The furniture is practical and as cheap as i can get a matching set. The payoff of HMO is that you get more rent and this will pay for their replacement over the years from the maintenance fund.

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Zazie 18th February, 2016 @ 08:46

It seems like our experiences bear out what the blogger is suggesting. The demographic of the renter determines which is the more successful approach.

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Steve 18th February, 2016 @ 08:55

I basically agree with everything you say (at least in this post).
I have a student let (12 month fixed term) and it is furnished but I don't provide a TV or kitchen utensils etc.
There is an issue with mattresses as students (and probably most other single people) tend not to wash the mattress protector (provided by me) or even their sheets which means that after a year of dirty, sweaty student the mattress is fit for the bin. I usually buy new ones for each student change over at £80 a pop.
Also, new tenants when viewing a property would be unenthusiastic about sleeping on a used mattress.

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Crimble 18th February, 2016 @ 10:11

I've heard in conversation with a letting agent that the best bet (perhaps) is not to furnish, but to offer to make the new tenant a contribution of (say) £250 towards the cost of furnishing. No strings attached, the furniture belongs to the tenant outright. The agent also said that tenants who furnish their own homes tend to stay longer. He seemed a reasonable guy - why would he lie to me!

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PduC 18th February, 2016 @ 10:16

Good Blog, article reads well and informative, thanks. Keep popping the Pills!

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Pete 18th February, 2016 @ 10:17

I've been in rentals for years and never let out furnished because if a tenant decides to trash the place they'll trash the furniture too, or better still they'll sell it!

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Isaac 18th February, 2016 @ 10:29

Hi,
I'm currently modernizing an ex local authority 1950s 3-bed house in Telford, Shropshire. Time stood still in this house and everything is as it was 50 years ago with horrendous carpets and wall paper, to name but a few of the things to get rid of. I intend to fully refurbish it and then rent it out. Everything needs to be gutted and redecorated.

I intend to include a cooker/hob, and a fridge/freezer, but no beds.

In your experience, shall I include a fitted wardrobe in the main bedroom upstairs? I estimate the cost of a new one to be around £1,500 as it would occupy one entire wall.

Thanks for your advice.

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Aygul 18th February, 2016 @ 10:44

I agree with the post. I have a 2 bedroom flat in Nottingham and the people who viewed the property requested white goods, which I didn't have. I have an electric cooker there and will consider to buy a washing machine and a fridge in future. We did put two extra kitchen cabinets to make it more convenient. The property is rented out for a year as it is and I can't see the point of putting furniture there.

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Steve 18th February, 2016 @ 10:49

Isaac,

My opinion would be not to spend the money on the fitted wardrobe because of the potentially costly maintenance unless you are refurbishing to a high standard with the intension of attracting a higher rent.

Steve

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Katie 18th February, 2016 @ 10:51

I keep reading BLT and now I want a sandwich....

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George 18th February, 2016 @ 10:56

Hi,

We have only one property that we have rented out for the past two years without any increase in rent. Could you please let me know how should I go about increasing the rent. 1) Do I have to change the AST agreement? 2) How do I issue a change in DD details for the Bank (tenants have asked me to issue a letter which they would sign stating the change in DD details as they don't have time to go to the Bank). Any other details we should be looking into.

Your reply to this query will be appreciated.

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Katie 18th February, 2016 @ 11:02

George, you are a shining example of people that should consider using an agent! (Sorry that sounds a bit harsh) I'm sure it's a standing order not a direct debit and your tenants sound like they are just trying to stall your rent increase!

Landlord, I was so busy thinking about bacon I forgot to also say "great article" I agreed with every word.

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paul 18th February, 2016 @ 11:45

I have never furnished my properties,bar a few curtians left and of course you must provide a cooker.
I do have two larger 4 and 6 bed properties which I have no problem letting out.
Perhaps I was lucky in my investment into these,because I live in a town where there are larger families who need 4/6 bed.
I feel I fill a gap in the market as there are not many large homes in my area to let.
One house I bought,I left a sofa and it was ruined by her cat !it was the previous owners,so no loss really,but it taught me a lesson..
I now have one tenant in my 6 bed house who wants to buy it !
I may sell this later in the year,we will see.
Bottom line is ,you dont need to furnish (at least in my area) The best thing to do,is ask a letting agent for advice in your area/market. Simples !!!!

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jaykay 18th February, 2016 @ 12:45

Spot-on advice. The less there is to steal/damage of yours the better. You will recognise that I have had a bad tenant in the past ! Also, if things go wrong it is just more stuff to deal with when you finally get them out. Agree white goods but if they can't afford to furnish, can they afford the rent ? HMO's are different, obviously.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 13:50

Thanks for all the comments, folks! Some really good feedback, which has encouraged me to add to the list! The list has increased from 11 points to 14!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 13:50

@Greenlady
Thanks for your kind words, appreciated.

I think we're all benefiting from a booming rental market at the moment, so I'm not surprised enquiries came flying in.

I agree, I don't think furnished properties will cause major voids, but my overall point is, I think you would have had just as much success without the furniture.

Thanks again for the comment!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 13:53

@Zazie
Ahh yeah, good point actually. I think removing certain items is a common request. I've actually had a few tenants ask for my washing machines to be removed because they have their own. That can be a bit of a pain.

I think the most essential is a fridge-freezer.

Thanks for the comment.

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The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 13:56

@Matty
Haha, the reality is, fixing those little bugbears make for a greater stress-free life! Never thought about a 3-legged table being the solution for a wobbly table.

I'm with you, HMO and student lets are more inclined to be furnished. But that's actually one of the reasons I avoid them, because even if the extra rent does cover the maintenance, still extra hassle that I'd rather avoid.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 13:59

@Steve
Good point. I don't provide mattresses. I quickly included that point under the bed section.

Mattresses usually get drowned in all kinds of crap and fluids. A dirty one can be VERY off-putting.

Very similar to toilet seats- but I always replace them between lets! However, with mattresses, they're quite expensive, and I've never had an issue with not providing them- so I've never bothered.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 14:02

@Crimble
Ahh yes!!

I've added your point to the list, about tenants being inclined to stay longer if they buy their own future. That's so true. It makes moving so much more painful, so tenants will definitely think twice before doing it.

Thanks for the comment.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 14:03

@Pete
Agreed!

Providing a furnished property to a bad tenant is literally the worst situation! If you're going to end up with a bad tenant, it's better they're surrounded by their own possessions!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 14:08

@Isaac
I completely agree with Steve's feedback, I wouldn't provide fitted wardrobes unless it's finished to a very high overall standard!

Not only because of maintenance costs, but also because you're unlikely to recoup any that money- it's unlikely a tenant will pay extra rent for that feature.

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The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 14:13

@Katie
Ha, your comment left me baffled.

I initially thought you misspelled BTL, but I was left scratching my head over the sandwich remark (although it's obvious now I've read your follow-up comment, I was a fool).

Did you end up drowning yourself in fat-dripping bacon, and smearing the grease all over the leaflets you've been handing out to the punters? Lovely!

I'm craving Sushi right now!

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The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 14:15

@Paul
Ahh, you're right. What you said makes perfect sense!

Since more and more people are being completely priced out of the market, including many families that consist of two working adults, I suspect that larger rental properties are becoming more sought after, especially in ‘family-friendly’ neighborhoods. So I'm guessing unfurnished 4+ bedroom properties are just as viable in this climate.

Thanks for the comment!

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Katie 18th February, 2016 @ 14:19

I'm currently working in block management so no leaflet distrubution required but yes thanks I had a BT (was out of lettuce) and it was delicious :)

You cant go wrong with Japanese!

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The Landlord 18th February, 2016 @ 14:21

@jaykay
Your comment inspired me to make an update to my post (number 14 on the list)! A good point about the correlation between affordability of furniture and rent affordability.

Theft is definitely not unheard of. I've heard landlords report all kinds of furniture and appliances going missing, even small things like plug sockets! Crazy!

The less to steal, the better!

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Pete 18th February, 2016 @ 16:53

Sounds harsh 'but' quite a few of my tenants live in mess (their own) and so will show no respect for your furniture so don't do it as it could open a whole can of worms!

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Steve 18th February, 2016 @ 17:35

I agree in the main but what about the 10% offset against tax for furnished/part furnished lettings? I know the lovely George Osborne plans on abolishing this but if he hasn't yet is it worth keeping a few sticks of furniture around?

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Benji 18th February, 2016 @ 18:04

@ Steve,

Yep, that is the big one.

George Osborne and his advisers didn't understand the 10% wear & tear allowance. They thought all landlords claimed it. Didn't know it was only for fully furnished lets. As the comments make clear, furnished lets are a pain in the arse, the 10% W&T just about made it worth the hassle.

Landlords will stop doing it making a further barrier to mobility of labour very much against core Tory values.

10% W&T allowance scrapped in April this year. However, landlords will be able to claim for any furnishings on a receipts basis, whether it is a fully furnished let or not.

This might cost more than it saves.

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Paul 18th February, 2016 @ 18:08

Ref wear and tear 10% allowance,I would like to point out that you could never claim this for "part furnished "ever,as i understand this to claim you will need any buy to let to be fully furnished! ie appliances,beds,wardrobes,washing machine,fridge,in fact enough to live in without the need to buy anything else,
I always just claimed for items I replaced like carpets and as I have said previous dont furnish my properties ever.
So my claims would be for floorings,decor,perhaps blinds/curtains .
Hope this helps.
Anyone wanting more help,just go onto HMRC.gov.uk

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Steve 18th February, 2016 @ 20:02

Thanks Paul, I had a furnished place before but now can't be bothered with the hassle! Seems the 10% wear and tear is abolished this April anyway so no reason to furnish any more.

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Safetylady 19th February, 2016 @ 09:22

As a tenant (my rental is in another part of the country), I would prefer a consistent and agreed nationwide approach.

A washing machine is a big, heavy and expensive item. Some rentals provide, others don't. What am I meant to do with mine - bought for a non-provide - when I move to a rental with one in place? Same for fridge / freezer, although to lesser degree, and then sometimes a bed.

For a 6 month AST why are landlords not carpeting and curtain-railing at least? Do they really think it's fair to ask someone to commit to this investment & effort for potentially a few months?

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Paul 19th February, 2016 @ 10:37

Hi all
ref furnishing,as I have said before,my properties are let out unfurnished.
However you still need to provide a cooker,flooring,carpets,laminated,tiles or whatever,but you do need to have flooring down.
You can claim when you repair or replace them at what they cost.
Also you perhaps should provide at least curtain tracks/poles .
I have found some of my tenants have asked if they can put up blinds and I have said yes,as long as they are left when they leave !this has worked out ok
As making good would have to be paid for by the tenants.

I feel I am a good landlord,but feel it is not a level playing field.
Why should landlords be put to so much cost and trouble when a tenant breaks the contract ie does not pay rent and or damages the property.
Landlords should be able to evict at a months notice,they still will have losses and costs.

I have had one tenant who did not pay their last months rent,"saying I have paid you enough"
I said if you buy a car will the HP company let you off the last payment ? !
Needless to say I took them to court,with bailiffs costs etc they ended up owing me 2 times the rent and ongoing interest ! they still are paying me!
Then stopped !
I then found out they owned a house !!!!!!!!!!!!!!so put a charging order on it.
They cant move or sell or get extra mortgage on the house until they pay up !
Yes being a landlord is not easy,it great when you get great tenants !
Any new landlords on here,remember to protect your deposit,what I do is buy premium bonds with the deposit to keep it safe and separate,when you need to return the deposit(after any deductions for damages,cleaning,unpaid rents etc)
Often I am in a position that I can refund the deposit from the next tenants deposit! and retain the bonds and go on that way,until of course you come out of the business and perhaps would need to sell them,unless you have other funds.
On top of this I have won over £150 on bonds held this way !!!!!!!!!!!!!and of course no interest is payable on deposits held.
Remember to keep on top of your gas certificates,boiler servicing my tip is to insure your heating system,rads,boiler,timer,valves etc with a policy.
I pay £14 month to cover the system and this includes a service each year with landlords certificate(I have a local firm called gaswise who cover my area)so any problems with heating hot water etc are taken care of and will keep your tenant happy.
You can of course cost this in with the rent you charge,along with annual property insurance.
I dont cover contents and have never done so,I take the risk,calculated !
The tentants have to insure their contents,after all its their property not yours.
Perhaps we all can start chatting about what expenses you can claim for in your accounts,as some of you may be missing out !
eg did you know you can claim 45pence for each mile you travel in your business to visit property,meet tenants,inspections etc
so I have strated this off,over to you
Have a good weekend
Paul

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David 19th February, 2016 @ 11:53

I agree, provide as little as possible, I will never forget the landlord that has a complaint from a tenant because the toaster was faulty.

I would NOT provide a washing machine, it is a lose lose situation. They go wrong, they cost you money, the tenants expect them fixed very quickly.

No furniture at all, no beds, no mattresses, hell a cooker and fridge are a perk.

When I have rented it is a hassle if they have a fridge and I want a fridge freezer or if they have one that used £10m of electricity and I can get one that pays for itself in energy savings.

I disagree about a 4 bed place, such a tenant (unless you are near a US Airforce Base) will have collected their own furniture over the years and probably have it in storage.

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David 19th February, 2016 @ 12:16

Oh and about working in bed, I expect your next post to be about your nasty bedsores and sweat rash. Create a discipline of routine, make notes all the time on your phone about potential subjects, then put some meat on bone at dedicated time for writing.

Do what magazines do, rehash an old article and call it an update.

There are still a plethora of subjects to explore.

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David 19th February, 2016 @ 12:23

@Paul

WTF

"Any new landlords on here,remember to protect your deposit,what I do is buy premium bonds with the deposit to keep it safe and separate,when you need to return the deposit(after any deductions for damages,cleaning,unpaid rents etc)"

It is the law to protect deposit with one of the three authorised scheme organisations.

The only way to spend the money twice as you suggest is to use an insurance backed scheme, they have downside as you can be terminated and then fall foul of deposit protection scheme.

Premium bonds are not a good investment, even with the max holding. That has been proven elsewhere.

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Shaun 21st February, 2016 @ 11:43

Make them provide their own toilets! Excellent idea!! :)

@Paul
Good discussion to have, I have been letting property since 1998 and can still learn. Only discovered the 45p last month!

As David said, as far as I am aware it is a legal obligation to use an authorised Deposit Protection Scheme.

Landlord, only just started to read your blog but like what I have seen so far. I started out providing furniture but hit all the problems you mentioned. The 10% probably didn't compensate for the costs and certainly not for the hassle. I provide a clean tidy empty property (and I still get hassle but that's another story!) cooker but nowt else.

Never had to replace the toilet seat (yet)!

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Paul 21st February, 2016 @ 12:42

If you do furnish your let,may I suggest you take a higher deposit than unfurnished ? also you will need the extra cost of insuring the contents too.
If the tenant does not like this idea,well take that as a warning ! you may have the wrong tenant!
I have had 3 lots of tenants over my letting business who have caused damages
and or not paid rent.
In all cases I have taken them to court and won ! Then of course they still dont pay! do I give up,hell no !
I have sent in bailiffs (you see on TV) they have got the money ! its a hard life !
One is still paying me back £5000 ! at £50 month,one has stopped and has a charging order on a house they turned out to own !!!!
So dont give up.
The best thing to do is to insure your rent is paid I have learned a hard lesson. It only costs around £100 a year to take out a policy and this will cover you for all rent and getting the tenants out! so cheap for peace of mind.
So do it insure your rent !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Paul 21st February, 2016 @ 13:15

Just for info for new landlords here is a list of expenses you can claim for.
an allowance for a home office/room ( I think its a standard £150.00 pa)
postages,telephone,part line rental.broadband etc
travel 45p a mile,
Deposit protection fee,insurance building,contents (if you need this)
gas certificate,any insurance you take out to cover the heating and boiler.
repairs,decor,cleaning,carpet cleaning,outside painting,replacement locks and keys,pest control(yes things like fleas ! that one or two tenants have left me to deal with)I did think about charging them rent !until they had moved out !!!!!(the fleas that is !)
Accountants fees,
garden maintenance (that the tenants should have done but did not !)
This mostly happens when they leave .
Any agents fees for tenant finding references etc.
If you deduct from the deposit any costs like decor ect of course you dont claim again for them on your business.
I have been in the position of the rent not covering damages etc and still needed more money from the tenant,thus legal action as above .
claim if you fit double glazing ie pvc this is allowable,as long as it is not an improvement,ie ok to replace wood double glazed with pvc.
Other items you can claim for are repairs to fences,tree cutting .maintenance
fixing gates,broken windows,glass etc
And the normal things like new carpets,cooker (which you must provide )I would not provide any other electrical items ,like kettles,toasters,nothing ,as you will be liable to have them electrical tested (I think every year)
w/c seats dont break on their own,so right it in the tenancy,that the tenant is responsible to replace them,along with shower hoses,batteries,light bulbs etc
All repairs to gutters,building,doors,windows,well most things to do with your buy to let.
Not trying to teach anyone to suck eggs,just trying to help the newcomers.
Best things to do !!! Insure your rent ! insure you heating system !to include a boiler service and gas certificate for all gas appliances ! protect the deposit and hold it yourself !insure your building at least !a requirement if you have a mortgage ! silly not to anyway !most power companies
will insulate the loft and walls free!!!!if not upto standard (google it )
I may have missed something,happy days
Paul

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Paul 21st February, 2016 @ 13:17

sorry for some spelling mistakes,ie write in not right in !

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henry 21st February, 2016 @ 14:22

My properties on the South Coast have as little in as possible (I have had some bad experiences of things being removed/disposed of by tenants).
Providing a cooker seems necessary as few propsective tenants seem to have one and I've never been asked to remove mine. They are electric, so not adding to the items needing the anual gas safety inspection (and as they have to be hard-wired in its better I get this done once rather than rely on any DIY electrician tenant).
I've never been asked to provide a fridge/freezer, people have their own unless students and I don't have any of them.
Likewise a washing machine: like other comments they can go wrong and would be a pain to remove from an upstairs flat where a tenant had their own.
A trick told me by a letting agent who is also a large landlord: put a patch of hardboard/plywood where the washing machine goes as it saves a tenant ripping the lino when pushing or pulling their washing machine in or out or the space.
I do provide curtains, or increasingly blinds instead from a cheap local company, to avoid numerous or botched DIY attempts; especially in dormer windows. Also as there are so many different sizes of windows it seems a bit unfair making tenants buy new curtains. Same with all floorcoverings.
Yes I do bathroom fittings (mirrors, toilet roll holders) and have to replace toilet seats fairly frequently but they are cheap and easy.
One of mine is a large house. Tenants of this tend to have a house full of their own stuff already from a similar or smaller house they're moving from.
Tenants new to renting may not have all their own furniture, but will buy it for the future, especially if they are renting and saving up to buy their own flat. I agree with other comments that if they cannot afford to buy some furniture can they really affford the rent?

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Fee 28th February, 2016 @ 19:12

Agree with most things here... really thorough post as always! Except maybe 4+ beds being furnished. I think in today's market larger lets are being required more frequently and tenants are generally families that come with their own stuff. Also a lot of landlords with larger properties just don't do the interior/furnishings right and it's a mix of their own crap they no longer want and cheap ass stuff that doesn't fit in with the house which would put anyone off! So other than student lets and house shares unfurnished just makes sense. With of course white goods included but personally I've never included a washing machine as they can break and then it's an emergency for the tenant that needs it to be fixed within 24hrs or they will basically hate you. And of course the costs to repair it or buy new aren't great!

As I often like to peruse Right Move of an evening (sad, I know... but I know I'm not alone!) the most common thing I've noticed and have also experienced as a tenant myself are lazy ass landlords keeping randomly items in their apparently 'unfurnished' property. It really is plain laziness and for no good reason and depending on what junk they've left it may cause more hassle if the item breaks and the tenant wants to have it fixed/replaced.

My current house came 'unfurnished' but included - a dozen plant pots which I now can't distinguish from my own and fear I may end up accidentally stealing when I leave), a slightly rusting toilet brush & bin, a few sets of brown curtains that were swifts removed, vacuum sealed and placed in the attic and a single rather ugly terracotta vase in the hallway (again, placed in the attic). Oh, and the piece de resistance an ancient galvanised wash tub in the garage that I haven't a clue why someone would want, but know sells well on eBay. I of course wouldn't... but it's a fantasy of mine none the less :)

Other than the brown curtains (which were just a bad interior choice) everything else just shouldn't of been there when I moved in and simply created a longer inventory than necessary and could cause some kind of silly dispute whenever I vacate.... I'm thinking the plant pots here and the toilet brush I binned as I couldn't deal with keeping it in some kind of storage in the attic. Though I'm sure my landlord won't be that picky... I hope!

It's simple, make sure your previous tenants remove all their belongings when they move out or if it's previously been your own home, like in my case, don't be lazy and go to the tip/continue to be a hoarder and store the items in your new home.

On a side note I think your 12th point could be easily over looked but is soooo true. De-constructing wardrobes/beds and fitting large items through doorways is a pain and enough for someone to keep on renewing their tenancy to avoid that even if they are finding the property or area not their ideal. If someone can just pack a few boxes and a bindle in a day they're much more likely to move on sooner.

PS. Can we please try not to leave it 40 days and 40 nights until next time!!

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Toplets 9th April, 2016 @ 19:00

To furnish or not to furnish........that is the question?

The answer is "...it all depends..."

YES for:-)
Cooker. microwave, fridge/freezer, Dishwasher as when I bought new properties (all mine were) I negotiated for free and they stop wear on sinks/taps/worktops etc. Plus never had to replace one in 15 years+

MAYBE FOR :-(
Clothes washer usually wanted but subject to misuse and replacement.All my properties had one at new usually built in.
Curtain rails stop bad erections!

Central heating and gas boilers generate aggravation but usually/always wanted. Keep a fan heater or two spare as emergency help.
Electric showers usually wanted but wear out I find especially careless use of hoses. Most of my properties had these included but some have been replaced.

Curtains maybe. If tenant decides to replace mine usually end up in cupboard in bin bag in property. Naughty.

Types of tenant is the Key.
I go for YUPPYS or often execs who have been transferred from home and like fully furnished within reason.
Old tenants can often be very good though and will have all own stuff.
I negotiate hard as companies often are generous as rents are cheaper than reasonable hotels and exec has to pay for own food.
Sometime for my expensive flats I "show house Them". Thank God for IKEA. Never buy expensive stuff just stuff that looks expensive and stylish, fash and durable. I find this pays me and often avoids voids as I have storage at home and a cheap removals team.
Avoid families as they generate excess wear and tear. My worst long term tenant in a budget new 3 bed semi has had about 3 ovens, 3 electric showers, much gas boiler work so I signed up with a monthly firm with vans with £10,000 worth of spare parts who the tenant can contact but not spend outside the contract T's & C's and this has worked wonders such that as my gas boiler stock ages I go onto these monthly contracts but not with British Gas. Beats the local plumber usually hands down as they have to order parts and as boilers get more complicated and flimsy they seem to wear out at about 10 years. My own boilers an Ideal Standard is about 40 years old - built like a Victorian steam engine - and a Baxi that is about 15 years old - minimum electronics and reasonably economical and NOT without a tanked system that are killers for boilers with their On-Demand hot water and flimsy heat exchangers etc . As I have mega and cheap insulation this help a lot.

Amusing article though with lots of obvious experience but judging from Council Tax cheaper properties than mine.

The End
oOo

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