Should I furnish my buy-to-let?

Q.  I have just invested in my first Buy to Let venture and beginning to get the property ready for my first tenant. It’s a brand-new property so needs everything except the white goods. A few friends have suggested I try renting it unfurnished to save on further outlays and expensive furniture but I am not sure if that’s the smart thing to do. At the same time, I am torn between putting carpet down or wooden floors, what do you advise?

A.  In Canary Wharf and London in general furnished properties seem to be the most sought-after type of rental. This is simply because of the type of tenants we are dealing with. Most tenants in London tend to turn up with a suitcase and simply want to start living and are reluctant to purchase furniture until they make the commitment to purchase their first home. The beauty of renting is the ease of transition from one place to another. In all I would say that 90% of tenants require furnished properties. There are a very small minority that require unfurnished and usually they are tenants moving from overseas as many foreign countries actually don’t offer furnished at all so tenants need to provide their own. These tenants naturally want to bring their furniture with so yes there is a very small audience for unfurnished. So, my biggest advice would be to furnish the property as you are likely to rent it far quicker than unfurnished. With respect to flooring I would advise wood flooring over carpet. Again, for hygiene reasons most tenants prefer hard wood flooring, and actually from a landlord’s perspective if you invest in a good quality hard wood flooring it can last for around ten to twenty years unlike carpet which can look tatty rather quickly especially when in a rented property. Given this is an investment for you I do believe that setting the place up right from the get go will guarantee that going forward your investment works for you and ensures your chances of having a void period are low. Please too remember to install good quality modern furniture, naturally you will always be fighting off the competition and if yours jumps out on the portals when advertised it will likely to be the first to be rented too.

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