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How to furnish your rental property to maximise your buy to let investment

With so many ordinary people investing in buy-to-let, how do you get the edge in renting out your property?

Although you might not get an increased rental return on a really well presented and furnished property, it can ensure you get a better quality of tenant and reduce your void periods in what is becoming a very competitive market place.

We find out how to finish and furnish your rental property to help you achieve the best return on your investment.

How should you decorate your investment?

It’s long been a known fact that you need to decorate your investment using neutral colours. After all, neutral is less offensive to people than strong colour schemes AND it will go with anything and everything they bring in to the property.

But how do you make neutral long lasting once your tenants have moved in?

Tenants might not take as much care in your rental property as you would like them to. What with all that coming and going as tenants move in and then out with all their worldly goods, it’s not surprising that the decor need to be robust enough to take the knocks and bumps that are an inevitable part of buy-to let life as a landlord.

Using a job Lott of magnolia paint will certainly keep your costs down, but try using a silk finish rather than the usual matt option. This way you can wipe down the walls in between tenancies without the need for a complete make-over. By using high durability paints, your walls and doors will be up to taking all those knocks and dumps it will inevitably take place once the tenant moves in. High durability paints contain Latex or acrylic and will cut down on the amount of remedial work you need to do to keep the property looking good for as long as possible. Water based acrylics also dry much faster than regular paints so they can really speed up the job so your property isn’t empty for so long.

Colours that ‘sell’ and colours that don’t!

White can look too cold & clinical in an unfurnished living space and should be used only in bathrooms, where cleanliness is paramount. Use softer shades in living and sleeping areas and contrast with soft furnishings to take the hard edge of cool colours. Warmer pale yellows, soft beiges and off whites work best.

But please use white on all the woodwork and the ceilings.

Keeping within a budget is important when you are preparing a buy-to-let property if you want to maximise on your budget. The Paint Quality Institutes website includes a calculator to help you work out the amount of paint required for the job and can compare the different costs of different paint options.

We’ve done the walls. What about the floors?

Depending on the market you are aiming your buy-to-rent property at, will determine what floor coverings to go for. Here are our top tips:

For the top end property or family home:

Good quality carpet in a mid tone colour. Don’t go too pale. The idea here is that a good quality carpet can be professionally cleaned in between tenancies. In fact many property management companies will include a carpet clean service as part of their management fee. Good quality laminate or wooden floors. These can work very well in apartment living or family homes in the living space. Carpets are still preferred in the sleeping space.

For the lower end property:

Lower quality, more cost effective carpet may be a better alternative. Budget to replace these carpets every 2 years. They don’t survive so well after industrial cleaning in the same way as a better quality carpet would.

Laminate can work in some areas but carpet is cheaper and lasts better than the cheaper laminate. Again, low cost laminate can start looking bashed about after a couple of years.

For all property – DO NOT use carpet in the wet areas. Either use ceramic tiles in top end property OR cushion flooring in lower end property. It’s much more cost effective AND durable and it’s what people are looking for. Carpet in wet areas just gets soggy, smelly and really dirty very quickly indeed.

Furniture & Furnishings?

You’ve got the right paint on the walls and the flooring is sorted. Now, should you furnish? What’s enough? What’s the minimum?

Owners of buy-to-let properties have a couple of choices when it comes to furnishing their property.

True, if you do furnish it, you have to replace the stuff should it get damaged. That said, for potential tenants who are working on temporary contracts, providing furniture can be a god send AND they’ll be happy to pay a bit more for it if its an option.

Even if you don’t intend to let the property furnished, getting in furnishings to market the property can improve your chances of getting a quicker tenancy AND a better quality of tenant.

What’s key?

By putting in the basics you can define each room. Here’s what’s needed for the key living and sleeping spaces.

  • Lounge: sofas, side tables
  • Dining area/room: table and chairs
  • Bedroom: Bed and bedside tables

If you are targeting the student or office worker as prime tenants you may want to invest in desk and chairs for one area or room to show how perfect it is for them to meet their study or work needs.

You may decide to buy in white good for the kitchen too. Cooker, fridge and washing machine tend to be the minimum here.

Look for sofa’s that are a durable colour with washable covers. Look for reasonable quality beds. Don’t spend a fortune because you will need to replace every couple of years, but don’t go too cheep either for daily use items or they’ll need replacing much sooner.

Fire Safety Regulations – what’s required?

As from 1997 all furniture in tenanted UK residential property must comply with fire safety regulations.

How to make sure all your furniture and furnishings meet current the current safety regulations.

Don’t buy or use second hand furniture if the items are more than 8 years old. Chances are they won’t be compliant. As it’s now an offence for a retailer to sell items which don’t comply, you shouldn’t find non compliant items in the shops if you buy new. All items will have permanent labels so if in doubt look for these. DO NOT remove these labels. It’s also a good idea to keep all your receipts as proof of purchase from the retailer.

As a first timer, you need to be aware that failure to comply with these fire safety regulations is a criminal offence and the penalty for non compliance can include a fine of £5,000 no complying item and a possible prison term of 6 months. If that wasn’t enough, your property insurance would be invalidated and the tenant may sue you for damages in the civil court.

There are a number of companies around who can provide everything you need to furnish your property. These people really know what they are doing, so make sure you have one of them on your expert team.

Source: Home Staging Academy