Buy-To-Let Decorating/Renovation Tips For Landlords

Buy-To-Let Decorating Renovation Tips

Tenants don’t give a shit about your property. Learn it, live it, love it.

While that’s not usually the case, it’s definitely the thought that runs through my mind when I’m undertaking any decorating/renovating projects in my rental properties in order to provide a practical living environment [for my tenants] and minimise maintenance costs.

Unfortunately, tenants are only but mere mortals. There are going to be times when they fail to remove their grubby shoes off their cheese and chive trotters before they enter their home. Similarly, they’re not always going to gag and strap their snotty, adolescent children to the boiler, preventing them from smothering the walls with their own feces. They call the consequences “wear & tear”, but it’s debatable, and I’m more inclined to call it landlord cancer. It definitely hurts.

These are incidents landlords should always consider, and consequently influence how they maintain their rental properties.

I’ve recently decorated/renovated a few properties in-between tenancies, and I’ve mainly focused on making them practical and durable. I believe that’s the key, focusing on durability. I don’t want to have to spend money on renovating between every tenancy; I want my properties to be long-lasting and endure the trials and tribulations of greasy tenants. At the very most, all I want to do between tenancies is touch-ups, and in most cases I believe that’s achievable if the pennies are spent wisely.

In one way or the other, buy-to-let properties take a beating, it’s the nature of the beast, and that’s why it’s important to decorate/renovate with that in mind. Like most novice landlords, I used to concentrate primarily on making properties aesthetically pleasing for as little as possible, but I quickly realised it’s a false economy, which no one benefits from. A healthy balance between aesthetics and durability is usually the best solution for both tenant and landlord, even if it initially costs a little extra.

Too many landlords pollute their properties with shiny cheap fittings and get possessed with keeping everything “light and airy”, while losing focus on the realities of buy-to-let and how people (especially tenants) live in the real world. Don’t be fooled by all the property transformation shows and the glossy good-living magazines, where the end product is of spacious rooms, with magnolia walls and carpets, and blooming flowers. It’s not real-living.

Obviously there’s a catch in all this. Making a property long-lasting isn’t the cheapest route, the initial investment will be bumped by the premium products required. But overtime, you’ll save a bundle, and there are of course, ways to save in other areas to make the final cost more bearable…

So here are my decorating/renovation tips for landlords:

Schedule your renovation

Time is money. The longer you spend renovating, the bigger the financial hit. Vacant properties won’t return sausages.

Make a realistic plan, and stick to it, but allow for contingencies. If you’re planning to redecorate in-between tenancies, start decorating the day after the tenants leave, and source all the tools and supplies well before the job. If you can start before the old tenants legally vacate/surrender with their permission, even better. You’ll know what needs doing during the final inventory inspection.

If you know you’re going to need outside help from professional labourers, it’s important to book their time in advance. If they’re any good, they’ll be in demand.

Unoccupied/Empty Property Insurance

Something to be wary of is that building insurance policies often become invalided if the insured property is unoccupied/empty for over 30 days (some policies allow for longer periods). If you’re going to be doing substantial renovation or maintenance work while the property is empty (which is common), then I recommend checking your policy to see how long your property can be empty for before your policy becomes invalid.

If your property will be unoccupied longer than your policy will currently cover you for, you should contact your insurer to notify them. You may need to purchase yourself some Unoccupied Rental Property Insurance so you’re still covered.

Apply for Council Tax Exemption

If the property will remain unfurnished and vacant during your renovation, contact your local council and apply for landlord council tax exemption. You may or may not succeed, but it’s worth shoving your rotten nose in their faces and enquiring.

Cashback credit cards

If you’ve ever thought about getting a cashback card but never quite had the cahoonas, there’s no better time to pull the trigger than before spending a considerable amount on renovating. You can get up to 5% back on all your purchases. More details on the MSE website.

I ignored cashback cards for a long time because I thought they came attached with small-print conditions that would later come back to chew my arse off. Turns out, as long as you clear your monthly balance, they’re actually legit (but still carefully read all the T&C’s). I opted for the Capital One card. Glad I did.

Use tiles where you can

Use tiles over paint/laminate where possible, especially in rooms that are moist and prone to mould, like bathrooms, utility rooms, and kitchens.

Tiles are much more durable, resistant to infestations and easier to maintain than paint. Dark tiles with a dark grouting is always a good choice (white/light grouting can quickly become grubby looking).

Be mould-proof

Mould is a common and often serious problem in properties, especially for landlords because it comes attached with potential health risks, and you don’t want to fight that legal battle. It can also slice through paint/plaster like a knife cutting through warm butter, which means it can be extremely expensive and difficult to remove/resolve, so it’s one of those cases where prevention is definitely the best cure.

I recently encountered my first experience with mould, which I fortunately managed to contain quickly, but it could have easily escalated out of control and been the cause of my post-traumatic stress disorder and my demise. Since then, I consciously take extra steps to avoid mould.

Avoid light paints and carpets

Getting caught in the “Magnolia” trap is an easy thing to do. Guilty!

Light colours provide the illusion of space and cleanliness, which of course is the perfect cocktail to entice prospective tenants. But the compelling illusion has an extremely short life-span, especially in BTL properties. A few months of practical living and the once-glowing shades of magnolia become gloomy and murky. It’s extremely difficult to keep light walls and carpets clean, and generally speaking, it’s work that most tenants won’t have any interest in participating in. Ultimately, applying a light colour palette is a sure-fire way to exhaust your funds on frequent coats of paints and replacement carpets. Avoid it.

I find that mid-toned browns and greys are most practical/durable. They don’t cast too much of a shadow (especially in rooms with access to natural lighting) and they’re neutral so they go with most other colours.

Spend a little extra on good quality flooring

Floors are the biggest victim of wear and tear in any property because they receive the most physical contact, and that’s why I always spend a little extra on thick and durable carpets that can withstand heavy treading and toxic carpet shampoos. Carpet retailers should be able to provide advice on which particular carpets are suitable for BTL properties. And, where I can, I use tiles on the floor (for reasons already explained).

With the combination of cheap and light carpets (e.g. £3.99 per m2) I used to have an extremely high carpet turnover. It was ridiculous and a total waste of money. Avoid. Spend a little extra on the heavy duty stuff.

There are mixed feelings towards laminate flooring. Some find them durable and long-lasting (which they can be), but they’re also prone to malfunctioning. For example, if they get wet/moist, they expand, and that can cause problems. This frequently happens in the winter due to the moisture in the air, but also, most people clean laminate flooring with a wet-mop, which is a recipe for disaster. However, I do think dark laminate flooring is a durable solution, because even if they expand, you don’t need to replace the entire lot (unlike with carpets), just the area which is in ruin.

Gap fill with mastic/filler

Don’t leave gaps unattended, especially around windows, sinks, baths, showers and cookers. Gaps can manifest into all sorts of unwanted problems.

Carefully and neatly apply mastic filler (assuming they’re not the size of my baggy butthole) to conceal gaps. Unwanted gaps can lead to leaks, mould, access routes for creepy crawlies, and breeding grounds for infestations. On a side note, you can get anti-mould mastic/filler, which is what I opt for.

Budget/Decorate for your target audience

I feel I need to cover two key points in this area:

1) If your property is going to realistically achieve £200 pcm, don’t spend £10,000 on redecorating because you’ll NEVER recoup your money in your lifetime, nor mine (I intend on outliving you). Budget with your audience in mind. If your property is achieving £200 per month, then you’re going to get £200 pcm tenants- they won’t be expecting much in terms of decor, and they definitely won’t be expecting high-end fittings. They’ll most likely expect 4 black walls, a urine-bucket, and some cockroaches.

2) If you’re trying to flog a 3-4 bedroom house, you should be targeting the family market. Decorate/renovate with your target audience in mind; consider what they will need/want as a family. Don’t try to please several demographics, you will fail by wasting time and money. However, sticking to a neutral theme will ensure maximum appeal.

Extended warranties & Insurance

When a cashier offers the extended warranty policy on a newly purchased product, it’s usually a patronising, “don’t be ridiculous, you’re wasting my time” moment. They get declined so often that you can tell they hate asking the question and a part of them dies when they utter the words, but with Big Brother watching, it’s clear they’re made to push the sale.

However, they can often be worth it, especially for landlords. Assuming that the price is right, I usually obtain the 3-5 year extended warranty when I purchase white goods for my BTL’s. I recently purchased a cooker for £320, and I think I paid £45 extra for a 5 year extended warranty. That warranty guarantees a product replacement service if any faults occur. Worth it.

So before you raise your eyebrows in disgust and snub away the offer, you may want to reconsider.

Keep all your receipts

Keep receipts for every purchase, even for a 99p pack of nails. Every penny spent on redecorating can be offset against your tax bill.

Don’t get personal with your taste

This is like the golden rule when it comes to decorating/renovating a rental property, but landlords seem to love breaking it. It reminds me of when people play Blackjack and hit on 14/15/16 when the dealer has a bust card. The decision is not even comprehensible, it’s just straight ghetto, but people still do it. In any case, go ahead, bust your shit up, see if I care.

Keep your shit together and remember that YOU will NOT be living in the property. Every “personal touch” you add to your property is a potential repellant to tenants. Try to keep everything neutral, so your tenants can apply their own touch. It’s a lot easier to transform a blank canvas into a home than converting someone else’s home, and tenants will consider that when viewing your property.

Avoid cheap bathroom fittings

It’s ok to cut costs in some areas when it comes to renovating a BTL property, but through years of experience, I’ve discovered that bathroom fittings is not one of them. Cheap and flimsy taps are definitely a false economy, especially when you consider the labour costs to get them fitted.

Good, solid taps should last forever, and they can be reused and refitted to most sinks.

Buy tiles & paint in excess

Buy a little extra when it comes to paint, tiles and laminate flooring, and store them in the property’s loft (if it has one). This will allow for easy touch-ups/replacements, and it becomes easier to purchase more of the exact same product. It’s amazing how many shades of the same colour there are, and to make it worse, every brand has its own unique tint. We live in a world where white is not always white. I always keep tins of paint in excess to avoid mismatching shades. I don’t even remember the name of the paint I applied to a wall last week, let alone when my tenants vacate in the forthcoming years.

Spend money where it needs to be spent

This lesson is usually learnt through personal experience, because most first-time landlords WILL spend as little as possible, no matter what anyone tells them. I know it’s extremely difficult to fight the urge (and many don’t), but I thought I’d waste my breath regardless…

There are certain areas where it doesn’t make practical sense to cut costs because you’ll end up spending more in the long-run. I’ve already mentioned a few, but here are the areas I usually spend a little extra on (i.e. don’t get the cheapest solution):

  • Carpets/flooring
  • Paint. I try to get specialised paint for specific areas e.g. anti-mould paint for bathrooms. Also, you’ll notice the difference in longevity when it comes to a brand name like Dulex and a retailer’s cheaper alternative brand.
  • Door locks. It’s particularly important to change the barrel between tenancies, especially if the relationship ended badly
  • Bathroom fittings
  • If there’s any anti-mould alternative for a product, I usually opt for it
  • Where appropriate, use tiles instead of paint

Call in the professionals when required

Don’t be stubborn and don’t be too cheap.

If a task is out of your skill-set and isn’t realistically acquirable, then get someone qualified in. It will usually work out cheaper than rectifying your badge-job anyways.

Quotes, quotes & quotes!

I can provide you with a dozen examples of when I’ve been massively over quoted for services. But I won’t. Just take my word for it. I think most of us have been there, anyways.

There have been instances I was being quoted almost double what other people would do the same work for.

Simply, always get shop around and multiple quotes for services and products, and not just settle with the cowboy that comes easily and/or first.

Avoid unnecessary furniture and fittings

A general rule of thumb of mine is to always go unfurnished. Furnished isn’t even an option for me. I know many landlords provide furniture, and there are some exceptions where it makes sense (e.g. holiday lets, student lets, HMOs etc), but mostly, forget it.

Furniture creates so much bullshit hassle (e.g. disputes over theft and damage), and the extra rent the furniture manages to drag in usually doesn’t compensate. This also includes unnecessary fittings, like shelves and decorative features. Bear in mind, extras like shelves alone won’t generate extra rent, so why provide them?

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.

Not convinced? Still tempted to go furnished? Fine! But before you make the biggest mistake of your stupid life, read my blog post on BTLs and Furniture.

Gas safe registered engineer

Any gas/plumbing work in a BTL property MUST be completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer. That’s not my futile, belligerent advice, it’s the law, unfortunately.

Well, there you have it. That’s the end of my incomplete list- I’m sure I could have expanded, but my fingers are starting to numb, and if history dictates anything, I’ll need the use of my fingers, hands and wrists for later tonight.

If you have any extra tips, please share! I’d especially love to hear any stories where your decorating/renovation inexperience has cost you…

49 Join the Conversation...

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Smithy 26th October, 2013 @ 11:50

I am a recent convert to a humidistat extractor fan, which runs all the time there is any moisture in the air. Have had them fitted into two bathrooms - one of which had a bad mould problem previously. Brilliant product. I will have them fitted to all my properties when it is convenient to do so - kitchens and bathrooms. With a ready power supply, my electrician charged £120 to supply and fit. This included channeling into the bathroom wall (we filled in the channel because we were decorating the bathroom anyway).

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Emma 28th October, 2013 @ 10:16

Magnolia and white all the way!!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 28th October, 2013 @ 11:02

You're a dangerous woman, Emma!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 28th October, 2013 @ 11:13


I agree! I always recommend installing extractors, I cover the topic in my combating mould blog post. Must admit though, I've never seen the humidistat extractors, they do sound practical. The ones I install just auto activate when a light switch is flicked on, and then disables 20mins after the lights are turned off. Will look into the humidistat ones next time though.

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Sarah Cumming 28th October, 2013 @ 19:08

Just had to deal with a tenant....painted certain rooms RED...told him that these rooms would have to be painted back to the original colour if he ever leaved. No..he wasn't leaving.. loved the house.. making it home..!etc
Out of the blue gave me 4 weeks notice. Thanked him for that and duly sent a letter what was required from him before leaving and the date for inventory and inspection of the house. He agreed. I am do not know the actual date he left as kept putting off all contact.
Result: a house with RED walls every where and carpets infested with carpet fleas and urination in all rooms.
Surprise..surprise contact details all changed!
Yes I had a deposit,yes I had a guarantor.
Oh all numbers and addresses changed!
It has cost me big time to put this house back into a rentable state and am still arguing with insurance company.
What else can you do..
A DPS in place.
Month up front in place.
Guarantor in place.
Photographs of inventory in place.
You still get F......d.
The tenant disappears into thin air!
That is just one of my tenants!!!
Boy..I can tell you alot more!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 28th October, 2013 @ 21:19

Ouch!!! Unfortunately there's no protection against scum-bag tenants like that! Been there, and it's beyond frustrating. They just don't give a shit.

It's actually the thought of having to deal with people like that which makes me stop and question expanding my portfolio!

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Nick 5th November, 2013 @ 23:50

Just found this blog (the whole site) and have to say I've found it very entertaining and informative to a first time landlord as myself. Been steadily reading all the landlord articles from the start of them. Keep up the good work.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 12th November, 2013 @ 14:21

Thanks Nick, very much appreciated :)

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John Tsigarides 12th November, 2013 @ 20:17

Sarah Cumming***

When we do the gurantor agreement we get signed agreement with both copies of driving licence or passport for both gurantor and witness attached. We also stipulate that gurantor has to be a home owner and we independantly check that the name and property tally ourselves with the Land Registry (£3.00). Surely you can locate the person if you had all of the information above? Appreciate sometimes that it just does go wrong though and with all the best security in the world, if someone is an asshole, they're an asshole!

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spud 26th November, 2013 @ 03:25

Hi Sarah, I could come back and paint your walls black if you like. I just dont understand why you didn't like them in red lol

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Mark 19th February, 2014 @ 15:53

I agree that light colors provide the illusion of space and cleanliness, which of course is the perfect cocktail to entice prospective tenants. Moreover these light colors make the rental area look bigger and spacious. First impressions count for everything when it comes to property, so it's vital your home looks its best for potential tenants. People should know that it is so important to make your rental property ready for renting! It means that you need to create warm atmosphere, heat, electricity, the Internet access, TV, comfortable furniture etc. As you know, when furnishing your rental apartment, each room needs to have basic and functional furniture. The kitchen also should have basic appliances, including a refrigerator, stove, microwave and dishwasher. If you have amenities (pool, gym etc.) it usually includes the maintenance of those things. Just think, if you can live in this property you tenant also can. You need to provide him with all necessary things that you need for living.

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emma 19th February, 2014 @ 16:02

Jeees, I'm coming to rent one of your properties !!!!

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Benji 20th February, 2014 @ 18:49

'Jeees, I'm coming..!!!!'

If only I had a £ for every time I'd heard that.........

........................................................I'd still have to give change from a fiver..

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Mitch 27th October, 2014 @ 12:12

Love this website and keep the comments coming. They are really helpful. We are just about to embark on our first buy to let (as a landlord). We have employed a letting agent because the corporate tenant requires this. However one concern we have is that they only hold (in DPS) one and a half months rent as a deposit. Is this the norm? As it is a high end rental property and will be fully furnished (high end), surely the deposit should be at least two months if not more?

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john the landlord 27th October, 2014 @ 12:18

1.5 months is about the norm or anything really from 4-7 weeks. If the place is high end and furnished you would probably want to go the higher end of this. If its a corporate tenant, why not make the company they work for a guarantor for the tenancy and then they will liable for either non-payment of rent or the pre-mentioned deposit not covering damage upon vacation?

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Mitch 27th October, 2014 @ 12:59

john the landlord....
Thanks very much for your post. Good point. It is corporate rental and we will ask if the company will be guarantor for the tenants.

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john the landlord 27th October, 2014 @ 13:26

No problem. I get one as standard with all my lets, its only a 3-4 template document that needs basic details filling in and some signatures. Make surr you get a good, independent and detailed inventory done before and after the tenant/s enter and vacate-it will be key if a dispute does arise over the condition your property was left in

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Mitch 27th October, 2014 @ 13:31

Thanks again. The Letting's company use an independent company for the detailed inventory. Everything on this let will brand spanking new, and we will make sure that apart from 'reasonable' wear and tear, all damage will be covered. We are confident in the people (senior professionals) but just covering our backsides as we should. Appreciate your advice, thanks!

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Keven 28th October, 2014 @ 17:49

I see above a few have had tenants from hell. My complaint goes back to the agents who put these people into our properties.
The tenants I had, lived like animals and in 4 months managed to wreck a modern house rented to them in great order. Radiators were torn off the wall, rooms painted extremely badly with no prior permission, carpets used instead of ashtrays, soiled nappies left in rooms and what must they have put down a white toilet pan to turn it so black I cannot imagine. They of course stopped paying rent immediately and a section 21 was used to evict them. Months after they left I was still receiving red bills and final demands etc, so one wonders how they managed to pass any credit check. The agents hide behind the data protection act when asked to supply any proof they carried out the checks!!! They appear to be totally unaccountable for placing tenants, despite their hefty charges.

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Barrie 30th October, 2014 @ 21:10

Any letting agent must show you proof of credit searches etc or do not let it to any tenants without seeing proof. Do not concern or believe the DPA hype it's lies

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Karen 29th November, 2014 @ 18:56

I am a virgin landlady! in the process of doing up a property having read some of your posts I'm beginning to wonder if it's a good idea. Have fallen into the magnolia & white trap (fingers crossed for nice clean tenants) Love the site keep up the good work.

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Uka 7th February, 2015 @ 20:36

Wow! Can't believe some of the stories I'm reading. Even animals don't leave like this surely.

I've rented my own flat out, found the tenant myself, could not have hand picked a better tenant if I tried.

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Fiona 2nd March, 2015 @ 20:28

Hi I am having to get a new bathroom and kitchen and I wonder how much to spend on each? I want to get good quality as its a rental but don't want to spend a fortune

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Hans 21st March, 2015 @ 20:26

MITCH - avoid corporate tenants - nobody takes responsibility and the tenant tends to not look after the place as their company pays the bills anyway - the more money they earn, the less respect they seem to have for your property (had a few of them, including an american on £10k a month (back in the nineties !)). Most of my tenants are single mums, working singles or vulnerable adults and all love their place and have been there for years - look after them and they will look after your property

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Isaac 1st February, 2016 @ 15:50

Does anyone here have experience with a Landlord's Insurance which included Rent Guarantee?
Is it worth taking up such an insurance?

Also, as I'm currently modernizing for the first time a house I've inherited in order to rent it out later, to what extent shall I refurbish it in terms of decorative items such as lamps, curtains etc.? I only intend to supply a cooker and a hob. Am I expected to also supply a fridge, dishwasher, dryer and the like?
Thank you for your help!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 1st February, 2016 @ 16:26

I personally think Rent Guarantee Insurance is worth it, especially for new tenants. I've claimed once, which otherwise would have cost me £1500 in rent arrears.

I usually get the policy for new tenants and then don't bother renewing it if they prove to be good/reliable after a year or so.

I don't supply curtains or lamps, but I do supply the curtain rails. Bear in mind, the more you supply, the more you will have to maintain.

You don't have to supply white goods, but it is desirable, and most tenants expect them to be supplied, at the very least a fridge/freezer. I usually provide a fridge/freezer and a washing machine.

Good luck :)

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Isaac 1st February, 2016 @ 16:37

Thanks a lot, The Landlord, for a prompt reply. As this is my very first development job, although the house was inherited rather than bought, I'm trying to learn as much as I can by doing the 'homework' required. If all goes well I hope to become a property developer and climb my way up gradually.

I must confess that this is quite exciting for me as I've recently retired and have been looking for a substitute occupation. I've read your tips on Buy to Let and found them very helpful as well as entertaining.

Glad to have found this forum!


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Isaac 2nd February, 2016 @ 16:40

Hi, when I'm decorating a house to let, as I'm doing now, I know I shouldn't spend more than my target tenant expects, or, in other words, I shouldn't decorate as if I was moving into the house. But what if I wish to sell after a year or two and the spec isn't high enough to appeal to a potential buyer? Does it mean I'll have to spend more money to upgrade the house to make it attractive to potential buyers?
Thanks for your feedback!

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Sarah 8th February, 2016 @ 11:04

Dear Isaac,
As an experienced land lady, for over 8 years, to several properties which I manage myself. Keep it simple!

Do not let your house out as furnished.

You will incur problems with your insurers as in furnishings fire proof, health and safety issues etc.

Supply only a hob and cooker as I can assure you these will be needed to be replaced after a tenancy!

Do not put any furnishings or other white goods in the property.

Paint it white throughout and take photos of the property with the tenants present at the time of viewing. and get them to sign that these photos were taken in their presence.

Keep onto top of your rental property with regular visits ( 48 hours notice, in writing, to be given to the tenants before a visit). Do this yourself. Do not assume the Letting Agent is doing this!

You will need an Electrical certificate and Gas certificate every year for the property to be on the safe side.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

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Isaac 8th February, 2016 @ 11:29

Thank you, Sarah. I appreciate your help as an experienced landlady.

One more question: is it wise to accept pets when renting out a property which will have been completely refurbished?


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Keir 17th June, 2016 @ 16:20

Great article thanks! Love the sarcasm... :)

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Lisa 23rd June, 2016 @ 15:52

Great article and very helpful, thanks! I'm just preparing a 3rd property for my rental portfolio and this has definitely made me think about a few things. :)

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Beowulf the Bold 11th August, 2016 @ 07:36

Interesting article. We have several properties which range from a BTL Barrett box to a large 4 bedroomed detached house that we kept on after relocating for work reasons. Each seems to require a different decorating approach. High end basic fittings work for the box, whereas potential tenants for the bigger property seems to look for something glitzy in the big house. The paradox is that the rental return is better for the box, and it's a lot cheaper to maintain.
Up here in T'north the idea of grey walls does not really work, as it's grey outside most of the time, so we stick to light warm colours.
Great blog, and how nice to know that there are others with mad bad sad tenants, as well as lovely ones who are worth their weight in gold.

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RonH 14th August, 2016 @ 15:22

I just LOVE the idea of "anti-moult paint for bathrooms" - and so would anybody else whose "barnet" is thinning!

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Henry 30th August, 2016 @ 01:21

For The Landlord, and others....

Paint and colours
My letting and management agents, owned by a couple who have well over 100 rental properties of their own as well as managing other people's gave me some advice:
- use Dulux Weathershield external paint for internal walls. It costs more but lasts far longer and withstands cleaning better.
- they only use white or magnolia, colours that Dulux Weathershield won't ever change. This has the advantage of being light colours to make places brighter, and would avoid The Landlord's problem of not remembering which paint he used (or it being discontinued). And avoids grey or brown. When they need to buy more paint all they need to get is more Dulux Weathershield white or magnolia. "Simples"

White goods
- their advice is tenants make washing machines go wrong and they're hard / expensive to fix (I don't know if warranties cover 'misuse' - don't know, never buy them as they're a rip off, although Argos staff advised me to get one for a steam iron in a hard water area and it was good advice given it covered limescale damage and the amount of ironing I used to do).
- their advice was tenants tend to have their own washing machines anyway (never had a tenant asking for one), and if they do I'd have to remove one I supplied, get it down a flight of stairs and find somewhere to store it.

- tenants seem to have their own fridge freezers in my experience, which avoids me having the potential problem of removing and storing one if I had provided it.

- their advice was to provide a cooker (mine are all electric ones even though I prefer to cook with gas). It avoids some idiot tenant trying to connect a gas cooker, or worse an electric one really badly.

- I needed to replace a very old cooker in a rental property recently and was tempted to go for the cheapest electric one: i.e. with a single oven. The advice of the agent's staff was to pay more for a double cavity oven, as apparently after grilling bacon in a single cavity, when it next used for something else you get bacon smells as an unwanted side.

- for replacing cookers (and white goods in my own houses I live in) I ask the local Euronics independent retailer for advice on what lasts longest. Euronics prices are on the web, and the local retailer will match or better, or throw in free fitting/ disposal or something. They'll pick up the keys from agents if tenants are okay with that or cannot be present, install and return them afterwards (saves me a 200 mile round trip - these things always happen when I'm not in the town). And to show I'm not brand biased, while the Coop is not know to be the cheapest supermarket, Coop Electricals online is quite competitive. When I got a fridge freezer for my house they were efficient about delivery and took the old one away (free I think) and I got Coop points on my little used Coop card (they closed my nearest supermarket).

- on their advice I provide hard wearing brown multi/fleck (i.e. not plain) carpets and vinyl/lino with a fleck pattern (not a white tile pattern). All so that any marks tenants make (and they will) don't show so much. Hair colour stuff marks anything white in lino and the fleck design stood it much better- I'd have had to replace a white tile design when they move, and as its wear and tear I don't think deductible from the deposit (unless someone knows different).

- I provide curtain tracks to save non-DIY tenants drilling holes in silly places and leaving the holes when they take the tracks on leaving. I don't do the curtains as tastes vary so much (I did once and found my brand new curtains dumped in the shed, covered in mildew once they'd moved out).

- I'm experimenting with their idea of hardwearing washable vinyl blinds for the windows of two properties (through a local supplier, cheaper than Hillaries etc). I'm so caring I've even put "blackout" blinds in the bedrooms. I'll see how this turns out for me.

Other than the above I don't provide anything that is not a fixture or fitting (so yes mirrors in bathrooms to save tenants knackering the walls with their holes in the wall). Lampshades, usually not. But I'm not in the student market, working or retired only.
Like the Landlord says, the more you provide the more they might wreck, and the more you are responsible for. And less 'stuff' means more affordable rents (as I once had to point out to the 'Princess' when she asked for a table and chairs in the kitchen - Wilkinsons do inexpensive ones of these, online or instore. If they can't afford that, what prospect of them being able to pay the rent).

Hope these might be of some assistance to other landlords, especially the new ones.

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serena 11th November, 2016 @ 16:15

Wow such helpful tips. I am about to convert a large farmhouse from commercial back to resi to be 2 houses and a flat. What tenancy agreements do you use - AST or periodic? Our letting agent charges £140 to renew the AST at the tenants cost and is really annoying the tenants just as they are having to face a rent rise. How often and what rate do you put the rent up?

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james ado 4th March, 2017 @ 05:50

Hi we are doing a flat up furnished to a good standard in a good secure area as a selling point. We intend to rent temp to people training in local hospitals. What sort of tennency do you think we should apply.

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Snogbot 8th March, 2017 @ 12:10

WOW, brilliant site & great advice.
Never forget that no matter how long you are an owner of rented properties for, there is always something new to learn.
So my small bit of advice for you all when buying a BLT is always have at least 1 parking space and small small garden preferably without grass to mow or fencing to repair (ideal courtyard walled enclosure).
Good luck and don't get disheartened when you have a gross tenant (worst one mended his motorbike in lounge/ sawed newel post off to fit sofa upstairs!!).
Learn from it and move forward.
Good luck

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Jon the landlord 21st May, 2017 @ 07:21

I've recently thrown a tenant out of a rental property of mine after nearly 10 years.. She was actually a good DSS tenant who had a young son. She looked after the property as much as you would expect and I never had any complaints. The council cutbacks meant they in my view targeted the vulnerable asking her to pay back over claims at the rate of £200 per month. This meant she fell behind on the rentrain. So began a year of wrangling and an eventual section 21 to remove her..The house is now a virtual bomb site with tons of work required. My mistake was allowing emotion into the equation. My advice is when the rent falls behind be firm with all demands and follow through.. My main role of Director at another business I own is the key bread winner meant we could cover the monthly losses but it's the re-furb costs that are challenging.

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Rob Richardson 13th June, 2017 @ 18:52

Great site just about to purchase our first btl
2 bed terrace near manchester

Just need some help ! Advice

Average cost for central heating system? (It doesn't have one ! 6 radiators needed

Average cost simple kitchen?

Average cost damp proof course?

Many thanks !

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Tina Reimer 20th August, 2017 @ 23:36

Found your site very useful as we are about to buy our first blt and will need to do it up a bit

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LordyLordyLand 10th October, 2017 @ 18:11

Really interest thread this. Something to add to 'walk ins'.

I know use a Go Pro camera on wide angle recording video and photos as I go. I have the tenants on camera going through the house with me, making sure everything is recorded. Later on if you get a dispute you have 1080 evidence, with them there with you, so you can argue their case. As well as that take panoramic pictures on a tripod with your mobile. Most phones offer this as a setting and its well worth doing.

Two questions:

The My Deposits dispute path. Has anyone been down that and if so what was the outcome? For the record I'm not in that position but it seems to me that it would be better to let the ex tenant chase you instead of having some monkey look at some made up cobblers they may submit in their defence.

Any recommendations on a kitchen refit?

Baring in mind what has been said before, I totally agree. These peasants treated it like sh*te but a few smart moves here and there, can result in extra bucks. Quite possibly just some replacement doors and vinyl / paint on the units.

Chin Chin.

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Jon 23rd November, 2017 @ 22:29

Hi - What are your thoughts on this....I have a tenant moving out after 2 years, all the carpets were professionally cleaned prior to move in. I'm I within my rights to ask that the carpets be cleaned when they move out?

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leigh brown 16th March, 2018 @ 12:56

Fitted two humid fans both run constantly electrical said they all do run tough tenant pays for air extraction just what Coucilhousingstandards want

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Sue 25th July, 2018 @ 18:06

Any tips to make sure your tenants are pretty descent people..this is my first property and getting workmen ... balancing finances ...getting everything up to standard has made me take off my rose coloured glasses

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 25th July, 2018 @ 20:32


Try these blog posts...

1) Early Signs Of Potentially Awful Tenants -

2) How Landlords Can Avoid Bad Tenants -

3) Tenant Referencing Guide For Landlords -

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Beverly Hills 7th December, 2018 @ 12:58

Such a helpful post. This is what I needed today

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Maxie 12th August, 2019 @ 02:01

Good article. I definitely love this website. Keep writing!
Billiga Fotbollströjor KimberlyW Maglia Real Madrid Leandroom

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Lord of the Pringles 31st October, 2022 @ 18:37

I’n here in 2022 and find this web massively entertaining and informative. Thank you.

I’m an accidental landlord whose first tenants are moving out after a number of years.

One of the tenants was a smoker (disallowed in the tenancy agreement.)

How can I get rid of the smell of smoke?

















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