How to dress your rental property

Before and after: Dressing the bed and getting rid of personal trinkets transformed this room for viewings

Before and after: Dressing the bed and getting rid of personal trinkets transformed this room for viewings

To achieve the highest possible rent and attract the best tenants, you need to reduce barriers – tackle any issues that will deter tenants – and make it attractive by taking positive steps to style the property.

It can be hard to see the faults in your own property, especially if you’ve lived there and are used to the funny smells and décor. Ask an honest friend or good agent to point out any barriers that might put off tenants. An avocado bathroom suite or tired kitchen might need a refurb (page along swiftly to Chapter 16 ‘Make the improvements that matter’ for more on this). However, many problems are far simpler to fix.

» Eleven full bin bags stuffed up flat’s appeal

Here’s how not to dress for lettings success. Swift once took on a rental property laden with half-melted candles, 17 vases, piles of pink cushions, two old sleeping bags and a fondue set – some left by the owner in the hope that they’d be of use, then successive strata of nick-nacks were added by tenants, until all the storage in the flat was full. It had snowballed to the point where Swift had to remove 11 bin bags of paraphernalia that only served to narrow the flat’s appeal.Unless you want to target a narrow market (hoarders with a taste for mini Eiffel towers, say), remove all such trinkets and leave the property neutral but not bland.

Here are 10 ways to attract the widest possible selection of tenants:

  1. Clean properly. People have different cleaning standards but most will mind grubby basins and mouldy walls.
  2. Fix the obvious snags. Those long-forgotten picture holes in the wall and the sofa used as the cat’s scratching post make the whole property look scrappy.
  3. Wipe the front door clean – first impressions and all that. Have the windows washed, too, for instant sparkle.
  4. Put away any bins that stand in front of the property. Pick up litter and pull up weeds on the pavement directly outside the entrance. If there is a communal entrance, vacuum it and whisk away the piles of old pizza flyers.
  5. Do the gardening. A quick garden tidy-up will help communicate that the property is looked after. Pressure-hose the patios to make them look like new.
  6. Put mattress protectors on all the beds. This will hide any stains and prevent further damage. Ideally dress the beds with linen, duvets, pillows and maybe even a throw.
  7. Stage the property. If the flat is empty, hang colourful artwork temporarily on existing picture hooks in strategic places. Simply borrow a few pictures from your own home to do this, along with some cushions and lamps for atmosphere.
  8. Free up space. If you do still live there, keep bulky items like pushchairs and golf clubs in the car for the time being.
  9. Declutter. Banish toys, stacks of old magazines and the hoard of shoes and coats by the front door to stylish storage boxes, crates under beds and baskets on top of wardrobes.
  10. Clear the kitchen worktops. Remove kitchen items that you don’t use every day, such as the bread machine, food processor and ice-cream maker, and store them.

You may not be able to do all of the above if you have tenants in the property, but do what you can.

With your property now looking its best after you’ve ticked all the boxes above, you’re ready to market it with maximum appeal. Voids, be gone!

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