To Furnish or Not To Furnish: Your Buy-to-Let

Whether or not you decide to furnish your new buy to let property depends on many factors.

Probably the first of these is the state of your current finances. Buying the flat can be expensive enough but solicitors fees and other hidden extras can often mean losing a big chunk of your savings.

The second reason would be the type of tenant you're looking to attract. A family for instance would probably have collected a lot of furniture over the years and would be more in the market for an unfurnished property.

The third would be how much you'll have to charge for rent in order to cover the mortgage.

When you should think about furnishing

  • No doubt about it, the property will look far better if it's furnished. This means you're more likely to rent it out quickly and you'll be able to charge a higher rent because it's in demand, and it's furnished.
  • Granted you'll have to fork out to buy furniture but some of this expense can be written off when it comes to tax matters.
  • It won't be so tough next time you go to rent the property out since the furniture is already there (so view buying it as a long term investment).

When you should leave your flat or home unfurnished

  • If the tenants move in their own furniture then it saves you from having to insure furniture and there'll be no problem with wear and tear as far as you're concerned.
  • There will be no need to provide a large and detailed inventory each time you get new tenants.
  • If a family moves their own furniture in then chances are the property is going to feel more homely and they'll be more reluctant to leave.

Where to find furniture for a buy-to-let

Quite a few companies these days offer entire 'apartment furniture' packages. This can prove quite expensive but if you're time-poor or out the country then it can be a great idea.

Another idea is to get in a home staging company. This is where they'll 'lend' you the furniture so that the tenant can get a good idea of how a property will look when furnished (if you're selling it as unfurnished). It may be an expensive way of getting a tenant but it can be extremely successful.

The law and furniture for your buy-to-let

Always ensure that any upholstered furniture you buy complies with fire and safety standards, i.e. the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1983 (updated 1997). Look for a label on the chair or settee to tell you this is the case. The Act applies to all upholstered furniture - new, second hand or built by yourself. Other items in a rented flat which have to comply with fire and safety regulations include:

  • Headboards and mattresses (have to be BS 7177 compliant)
  • Pillows
  • Coverings eg throws
  • Cushions and seats
  • Outdoor furniture

Not complying could result in a fine and a ban - or something far more serious - harm to your tenant.

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