In this article, we’ll look at how to decorate and furnish your residential rental property.
Is it Practical and Durable?
‘Will it save me time and money in the long run’? and ‘is it practical and durable’? These should be your main considerations when planning how to decorate and furnish your residential rental property.
Always use professional, qualified trades. This will most importantly ensure everything you do is legally compliant, safe, and carried out to a high standard. It might mean higher costs initially but will almost certainly save you time and money in the long run.
Cutting corners now, will cost you further down the line and may also attract the sort of tenants that are less inclined to take care of your property.
Think sturdy and practical. Good quality taps will last longer, a solid bath is less likely to get damaged and plenty of tiling will better protect your walls. Flooring is important here too. If the bathroom is on a first floor then be mindful that with a tiled floor, the boards underneath may move over time, so maybe consider lino with a good seal around the edges as a cheaper and lower maintenance alternative. Avoid anything that has the potential to rot or warp if not maintained, especially carpet – an absolute no for bathrooms under any circumstances.
If you decide to tile onto a bathroom floor and it has floorboards or chipboard, get a professional in. If you do decide to lay the floors yourself, make sure you do the basics well. As a minimum, use 20mm thick ply and screw it down with lots of screws to minimise movement. This will be your base to tile onto.
Making sure your bathroom has a bath is a necessity if you’re considering letting out to families. If you have the space for both a bath and a shower, then that will be perfect. If you only have room for a bath or a shower, then go for a bath with a shower over. Also make sure it has good pressure.
Sturdy, practical and neutral need to be your main considerations for a kitchen in a rental property. Ideally buy heat and scratch resistant worktops. These will withstand tenants potentially chopping and putting pans directly onto the work surface.
Stainless steel or ceramic sinks are better than any plastic-based ones, as they are easier to keep clean and are more durable. Also make sure your kitchen has an extractor hood and decent ventilation to minimise the risk of condensation related issues.
Finally, choose flooring that will cope with heavy usage and is low maintenance. No carpet or real wood and be sure that if you use laminate flooring, its one specifically designed for kitchen use, is sealed correctly and has a long guarantee.
Provide plenty of electric sockets throughout the house, possibly with USB charging ports built in. Otherwise, you are at risk of tenants using lots of extension cables, which in turn could become fire hazards.
If you have the space to build in some storage, this will prove popular with your tenants. It will also help them to feel like it is a long-term home if you make it easier for them to keep it tidy and clutter free.
Décor and Furnishings
Smooth walls and ceilings and white or magnolia paint every time. Do not ever be tempted to personalise the property. Its going to be somebody else’s home and you will limit your market in doing so. The bonus of keeping everything neutral is that when tenants move out, painting over white or magnolia is quick and far cheaper than if you have gone for fashionable colours or a wallpapered featured wall.
You might want to think about mould resistant paint for the high moisture areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms and go for good quality branded paint such as Dulux but not anything too grand. Keep your Farrow and Ball for your own home!
Explain to your local flooring company that your property will be a residential let and then go for the most durable and neutral flooring they recommend. Ideally, hard floors in hallways, kitchens and bathrooms and then carpets in the bedrooms. The living area can be either.
Where you have carpet fitted, invest in a good quality underlay. This will extend the life of the carpet and provide better heat and sound insulation. Also, you will not need to replace the underlay every time you need to replace the carpet.
Budget to replace your carpets, at least in the higher traffic areas every 5-7 years. Any replacements prior to this would most likely be down to tenants not looking after it properly. If this is the case then this should be covered by their deposit. After 5 years, it is the decent thing as a landlord to replace it yourself.
My advice would be that you do not furnish your residential let property. Letting a property with furniture that does not legally comply could lead to a hefty fine, or even prison for the landlord if something goes wrong. So, it’s just not worth the risk.
The only potential exceptions to this would be for you to provide a fridge/freezer, oven, hob and/or washing machine. However, all electrical items provided will need to be PAT tested yearly to be sure they are safe and legally compliant. You will also be obliged to replace them should they break.
It is a nice touch to provide window coverings to at least the main living area. This can be curtains or blinds but at the very least it wise to provide all the main rooms with curtain poles. From a practical perspective, do you really want tenants with little to no DIY skills drilling holes in your newly decorated walls?!
All the lighting sockets should have new, low energy bulbs at the start of the tenancy and possibly provide stylish but neutral light shades. The shades are cosmetic, but they look better than bare bulbs when you are marketing the property. This will also save your tenants having to splash out on bulbs the day they move in.
Set the garden up to be as low maintenance as possible. Check that fences will stand the test of time and that each tenancy starts with a tidy, weed-free garden. You might also want to consider removing any high maintenance plants or accept they may not survive a tenancy.
If you’re particularly fond of your garden plants or pristine lawn, then consider building into the rent the cost of a gardener. Another option would be to try to find a tenant that’s a keen gardener . Then provide them with the right tools to keep on top of it. Do not expect a non-green fingered tenant to do much more than mow the lawn and weed occasionally.
Providing a garden shed or garage space for your tenants where possible is also a good idea
Heating and boilers
Its best to get a well-known and established boiler brand, with a minimum of 3 but preferably a 5-7-year warranty. This is a larger initial cost but will save you money and time in the long run. It will be easier to get parts and local trades will have a better idea of how to fix any problems. Additionally, you’ll have peace of mind that should anything go wrong in the first few years, you won’t have a large bill to pay.
Extractors and ventilation
If you’re concerned about condensation in your property, then consider an air extractor or heated PIV (positive input ventilation) unit. This will cut down the potential for condensation and ultimately mould. This will make for a nice living environment for your tenants and lower long-term maintenance for you.
Windows, Soffits and Facias
Check these and repair or replace with UPVC as its lower maintenance than wood. If you must have wood, budget for these to be checked and maintained every 2-3 years. Where you can, replace windows with UPVC double glazing. This will add value to your property, be lower maintenance for you and reduce heating bills for your tenants.
Take an inventory
Take a full inventory with photos at the start of the tenancy. Then be sure that you and your tenants sign it. Be sure to give them time to make amendments to it in the first few days of their tenancy. This will reduce any potential disagreements at the end of the tenancy. The inventory should include any pre-existing issues, even slight cosmetic marks, or blemishes.
Please be mindful that you need to be reasonable with your expectations of your tenants. There will be some normal living wear and tear and you should allow for this.
Only deduct from the security deposit where there has been deliberate damage or negligence by your tenant. As an example, scuff marks, or slightly tired looking walls after a couple of years are to be expected. If, however, the house needs to be completely decorated after 6 months, then this would almost certainly be down to negligence by the tenant.
If your property is or is to be fully managed, you agent will take care of this for you.
Do not forget to that your property must be legally compliant – see my previous blog; Making sure your rental property is safe and legally compliant Get the correct landlord insurance and consider legal and rent protection insurance.
I hope this has now given you some useful ideas about how to decorate and furnish your residential rental property. Did I miss anything? Please contact me, Deborah at CAM Properties in Hayle if you would like further information about these requirements, or residential lettings in general.