Should I rent my property furnished or unfurnished? Pros and cons for buy-to-let landlords

furnished rental property with sofa and lamp

Furnished or unfurnished? When advertising your rental property, will you provide furniture or let tenants kit it out themselves? Maybe you’ve made up your mind. Or perhaps you haven’t thought much about it. But which one is better? And what does furnished really mean?

What is a furnished rental property?

If a property is let furnished, it means that when a tenant rents the property, they also rent the furniture in it. The amount of furniture supplied is optional and decided by the landlord. Some go for the simple basics (beds, sofas, dining table and chairs), whereas others include smaller furnishings too, like coffee tables, lamps and kitchen appliances.

What do furnished properties include?

The amount of furniture and furniture supplied can differ from property to property. If a landlord has decided to leave their home and move in with their partner, they may have lots of furniture they want to keep in the property instead of taking it with them or storing it. On the other hand, a landlord who has just purchased an empty property may decide to just buy a few big things – like beds and a sofa – or opt for completely unfurnished.

Furniture found in a furnished rental property includes but is not limited to:

  • Dining table and chairs
  • Sofas and armchairs
  • Coffee tables
  • Television and TV stand
  • Bedframes and mattresses
  • Drawers and wardrobes
  • Bedside tables
  • Lamps
  • Mirrors
  • Curtains and blinds
  • Electrical appliances

It’s important to note that not every furnished property will include all of these things. What exactly is included should be explained to the tenant early on and specified in the tenancy agreement and the inventory and schedule of condition. This way, the tenants are clear on what’s being supplied and what they need to bring themselves.

Furnished or unfurnished: Are white goods considered furniture?

Some properties will be advertised as ‘unfurnished’, but still include white goods. These are large household appliances (that used to be only available in white, hence the name), including:

  • Fridges and freezers
  • Ovens and stovetops
  • Washing machines
  • Tumble dryers
  • Dishwashers
  • Air conditioners

There is no set definition of what ‘furnished’ rentals include – it’s up to the landlord whether white goods are part of your rental agreement or not.

If you are letting your property furnished, it’s best to clarify what white goods and furniture are included by specifying these in the advert description. If you’re open to removing some of the furniture, you should mention this too. Some tenants will love your property, but prefer to use some of their own furniture.

What do unfurnished properties include?

Unfurnished properties come with no furniture, but that doesn’t mean they come without anything at all. Properties advertised as unfurnished may come with an oven, fridge or other white goods – but no other furniture. They may also include small kitchen appliances, curtains, or blinds.

There are more unfurnished properties on the market than furnished, and unfurnished properties tend to be more popular as they offer more flexibility for tenants.

What do part-furnished properties include?

Much like furnished, there is no fixed list of things that all part-furnished properties include. Part-furnished properties provide some items, and the tenant brings along the rest. Some landlords may want to provide the big stuff (like beds, sofas and wardrobes) and let the tenants bring along other bits.

This is why it’s important to find out what furniture the tenant needs (if any) and make it clear what items you’ll provide in the advert description and at the viewing.

Tip: If you want to let your property part-furnished, choose “Any” in the Rightmove furnishing options. This will show your property to everyone browsing in our area, including those who’ve only selected “Furnished” or “Unfurnished”. This ensures your property is seen by the most potential tenants.

Do tenants want furnished or unfurnished properties?

Both furnished and unfurnished properties are popular with different types of tenants.

First-time renters may appreciate a furnished space, as they’re not likely to have much furniture to begin with and it saves them the cost and hassle of buying everything before they move in. Equally, some people prefer a ‘blank slate’, so they can add their own furniture, to match their personal style and taste.

People temporarily moving for work or letting on a short-term basis often prefer a furnished space as it’s easier to manage. Similarly, student lets are almost always furnished, as most don’t have their own furniture and it’s far more convenient, especially with students typically moving every year.

Those who have been renting for some time will likely have their own furniture and opt for an unfurnished property. Many people want to be surrounded by their own things in a ‘long-term home’ and will be put off by ‘someone else’s’ furnishings.

Can I charge more rent if my property is furnished?

As a landlord, the rent you charge is ultimately up to you. Furnished properties provide tenants with more, so you can advertise it for more than you would if it were unfurnished.

The rent must still be reasonable and in line with the market value, but furnishing your property does give you the opportunity to increase your rental income.

Not sure about your property’s rental value? Get an instant rental valuation here.

If you’re torn between furnished or unfurnished, consider how much furniture will actually cost. Bear in mind that tenants will want good-quality furniture, and you’ll want to avoid having to replace anything. Do you have the upfront budget to furnish the entire property to a good standard?

Can tenants bring their own furniture to a furnished property?

If you are letting a furnished property, but your tenants want to add their own furniture, they should discuss this with you beforehand. It’s certainly a question worth asking them during the viewing and application process.

Bringing smaller items, like coffee tables or armchairs, is obviously fine, provided there is sufficient room and the extra furniture doesn’t cause any safety issues. If tenants want to replace what’s already there – a sofa or bed for example – they must get your approval before moving in. If there’s not enough space in the property for both, you may need to arrange storage for your provided furniture.

If this situation arises, you should ask if tenants are happy to store your furniture – and cover the cost – or allocate space within the property to store it. As you’re letting ‘furnished’ it’s likely you will prefer furniture to stay, but you should be open to compromise if it helps you to secure a good tenant.

Should I let my property furnished or unfurnished?

Deciding whether to let your property furnished or unfurnished depends on a few things.

Do you have furniture or not?

If you already have furniture in the property – say you’ve moved into your partner’s place and don’t need your extra furniture – you may prefer to let the property furnished to save on removal and storage costs.

If you are able to put furniture in storage, you should seriously consider this option. Advertising as ‘Furnished or Unfurnished’ will provide more flexibility and open up your property to more tenants.

If you don’t have furniture, do you have the time and money to buy new? Or would it be easier to let unfurnished? Bear in mind that some tenants may prefer this, as they’ll want to bring their own furniture.

What type of tenants are you targeting?

Different tenants have different needs. Professionals on work placements want a place that’s furnished so they can move in and out quickly and with minimal hassle. If your property is in a student area, or near a hospital or university – where people want short-term stays – letting furnished may be your best bet.

Families and those who have been renting for a while are likely to have their own furniture. If your property is suitable for big families, consider advertising it as ‘unfurnished’ or being flexible on whether the furniture is included.

If you’re not targeting a particular type of tenant and are undecided on whether to let furnished or not, just list your property as “Any” or “Furnished or Unfurnished”. Let enquiring tenants know that you’re open to either, and make your decision based on the interest you get.

Related article: What do tenants look for in a rental property?

Furnished or unfurnished: Are there additional rules for furnished properties?

If you decide to let your property furnished our part-furnished, everything you provide should be in good condition and safe to use.

Safety in furnished properties

Any electrical appliances should be PAT tested to ensure they are working and safe. Any furniture and soft fittings that are flammable should meet the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988. This includes:

  • Beds, headboards, mattresses and bed-bases
  • Sofa beds and futons
  • Sofas, armchairs and footstools
  • Nursery furniture
  • Garden furniture suitable for use indoors (not parasols or deckchairs)
  • Scatter cushions, pillows and seat pads
  • Padded seats
  • Loose and stretch furniture covers

Under the regulations, any of the above furniture that a landlord provides in their rental property must:

  • Have a fire-resistant filling
  • Be able to pass a match-resistant test or be fitted with a fire-resistant cover
  • Be able to pass a cigarette resistance test
  • (if new) be labelled with a fire safety warning

Arrange professional PAT testing here.

Furnished properties and council tax

In some areas, you may receive a full discount on your council tax if your property is unoccupied and unfurnished. Furnished unoccupied may also receive a discount, but it will likely be less. Contact your local council to find out what your exemption rules are.

Contents insurance

Contents insurance is recommended for every landlord, especially if they have furniture in the property. Building and contents insurance is a requirement for most buy-to-let mortgages, but double check your insurance covers your furniture. Get a free quote for building and contents insurance here.

What happens if property furniture is damaged?

Landlords are responsible for providing safe furniture, but tenants also have a duty of care to treat the property and everything in it in a “tenant-like manner”. This means taking general care of the property and its furniture and not causing any purposeful damage.

If furniture breaks or is damaged at the fault of the tenant, the tenant should inform the landlord as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstance and level of damage, you may choose to replace it, ask the tenant to replace it, or claim for the damage on the tenancy deposit.

Furnished or unfurnished: who’s responsible for replacing furniture?

Any furniture supplied by the tenant is their own responsibility. Landlords are responsible for ensuring any furniture they supply is safe and fit for purpose, but tenants must treat these items with care.

If a landlord is made aware that the furniture they have supplied is breaking, in need of repair, or is posing a safety threat – they should look to replace this as soon as possible.

Some items, especially if they are old, may break from ‘fair wear and tear’ over time, but landlords can request any items broken due to neglect or lack of care be replaced “like for like” by the tenant. Some landlords may prefer to replace items themselves, and some may ask for the tenant to contribute. Landlords cannot demand that tenants replace any furniture with newer, better versions than originally provided.

Do you let furnished or unfurnished?

So, will you be letting your rental property with or without furniture? Maybe you’ll ‘meet half way’ and go for part-furnished. Tell us your experience and what you prefer in the comments below.

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