Even unfurnished lets are not completely empty. You still need to provide:
- Appliances. Just about 99% of tenants will expect a decent washing machine, fridge-freezer and cooker
- Light fittings for wall and ceiling lights
- Curtains or blinds. Tenants will need these from day one, but finding the right size is a hassle, so do supply them. Go with neutral or understated colours and use poles rather than tracks for curtains as the latter tend to break
- Household basics. As a courtesy provide doormats to protect your floors, new loo brushes, dustbins, a few cleaning materials and loo rolls.
For furnished rentals, remove anything financially or sentimentally valuable to you. Also take out that glass table or white sofa that could easily get damaged.
But leave behind any specific items that you sourced to fit into quirky spaces. This can make the place feel bigger or help define zones in an open-plan kitchen/living room. Furnished lets should include everything listed above for unfurnished ones, plus:
Tenants will expect beds, mattresses, wardrobes and a chest of drawers in each bedroom. In the living room, supply sofas (with washable loose covers) and possibly a dining table and chairs.
A table and chairs is a nice addition to any garden. Consider a retractable washing line to encourage drying laundry outside – and cut condensation indoors.
Apart from maybe a mirror that fits above an imposing mantelpiece, tenants will prefer to hang their own choice of art. But at the lower end of the market they may not have the funds, so may want a few pictures. Consult them, but certainly don’t leave any valuable artwork.
Lamps, side tables and accessories
These come down to personal taste – yes, even the candles and vases that you think will add ambiance. They won’t bag you any more rent, so better to remove them. TV With the exception of built-in TVs, let tenants provide their own. TVs are relatively inexpensive nowadays, but if they break it’s a hassle for you to fix or replace them.
Don’t. Again, it won’t get you any more rent and the tenants will expect you to repair or replace it if it stops working.
Small electrical appliances
Another no. Besides the repair issue, toasters, kettles and irons pose a fire or electrical risk. Any such items should be tested regularly, creating more cost and hassle.
Crockery and bed linen
No. This is only an expectation if it’s a short let or a serviced apartment at the very top end.
When furnishing a property, less is more: a few good pieces are better than a house full of wobbly leftovers. Tenants will style to their taste with their own accessories, so you only need to supply the large key items. Whatever you do provide has to be kept maintained and safe.
If you need to furnish a property quickly from scratch, you could consider using one of the many landlord furniture pack suppliers. (Search ‘landlord furniture’.) They can deliver a coordinated set to fill a two-bedroom flat from around £1,500 the very next day. These firms hold large amounts of stock and negotiate discounts because they buy in bulk, so you could end up paying less than if you sourced it all yourself – without having to wait in, miss deliveries and fight with missing bits of flat-pack.
Prefer to do it yourself? Invest in an electric screwdriver to speed up assembly. Although Ikea is simultaneously our nation’s favourite and most despised store, it’s a great source of furniture for rental properties (see info panel below). The nature of flat-pack also means that it can easily be brought into properties with narrow doorways or winding corridors.
The little black book of lettings suppliers
Appliances. Ao.com delivers next day and removes old appliances at the same time. John Lewis (johnlewis.com) offers longer guarantees but often won’t collect the old appliances on the same visit – which means more hassle and longer lead times.
New furniture. Ikea’s better ranges, such as Besta shelving, Ektorp and Stocksund sofas, are good quality at great prices with quick delivery times (ikea.co.uk). Made.com sources well-designed modern pieces directly from the makers – saving you costs. Try Dunelm for inexpensive but chic smaller buys such as bathroom mirrors (dunelm.com).
Second-hand furniture. Antiques can be great value: they are well made from solid wood, lasting far longer than flat-pack, yet often costing less. Sunbury antiques market (sunburyantiques.com), in southwest London, is a trade secret, or find a market near you at iacf.co.uk. Search eBay.co.uk with product names to save on specific brands, or try council- and charity-run furniture re-use projects (frn.org.uk). But don’t buy any old junk – if you’re not prepared to live with it, your tenants probably won’t be either. Save on transport by booking shared space in a courier’s van via AnyVan.com.