Furnishing a Rental Property
You’ve got a property to rent, you want to furnish it but you also know that this is where you can get it horribly wrong in so many ways… You want it to be attractive, robust, functional and also low in cost. If you choose the wrong furniture, you might put people off! You might end up spending more money on furniture that doesn’t last long. You could end up with tenants that don’t stay long. You might even put your tenants in danger! So, how do you choose the right furniture and furnishing for a rental property?
In this guide I’ll show you how to choose the right furniture for your property. I’ll show you what you really need and what is ‘nice-to-have’. I’ll show you what you don’t need unless you love throwing money down the drain. If you like burning money, you should read my guide… How to be a terrible investor. I’ll help you with the right colours, designs and things to look for but I’ll tell you why. I’ll also show you where to get these bits from if possible. Let’s have a go…
Let’s separate this room by room so hopefully you can follow this guide step by step. Shall we start with a regular residential property? Yeah let’s do it. We’ll tackle student property at the end.
For this, I’m assuming you’ve got a normal house or a normal flat. For the ease of writing, I’m going to refer to everything as a house. If you want me to send you this exact guide but specifically for a flat, drop me a message on Facebook or email me.
Let’s start with the LOUNGE.
Is it a lounge, front room, living room or sitting room? For those that have mansions, there is a difference. For everyone else, they’re pretty much the same. Anyway, what furniture do you NEED…
- Sofa (or two)
- Armchair (or two)
- TV Unit
- Curtain Pole
That’s it. The sofa should ideally be leather. It’s easier to clean, lasts longer and survives wear and tear. I want to assume you’ve decorated your walls white and your carpets dark grey as described in my guide How to Decorate Your Rental Property. For the sofa, go with dark colours like black and grey but my favourite is a dark brown. Sounds weird but the dark brown leather really goes with the grey carpet and white walls. If you have a large lounge, go with a three seater and a two seater sofa. Try to avoid unusual colours and designs that might not be appealing to tenants. That’s the nice bit out of the way, let’s get serious about furniture. You have two options here, buy new or buy used. Buying new will cost more obviously but you’ll probably get a warranty (for what it’s worth). Buying used furniture will be cheaper but you won’t get that same warranty. You MUST also ensure your furniture complies with The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations which should display the appropriate fire label. Trust me, don’t miss this or you’ll be in trouble. Follow the same rules with an armchair.
You can pick up good leather furniture from Oak Furniture Land in Ocean Retail Park. They’ll be a bit pricy but if you’re focussed on only buying from large companies, this might help you. There’s a McDonald’s there too so you can grab a quick double cheeseburger for energy. Alternatively, go and check out Mack and Sons on Fawcett Road. They’re well known in Portsmouth and Southsea and have a decent range to choose from. HINT: You can haggle the price a bit too if you’re buying multiple things. Don’t tell them I said that. I’d also ask about their furnishing service. They’ll come to the property and check out every room so they can fit out the whole place for you. It’s a really helpful service which saves you time and effort. They furnish thousands of properties for landlords and I’ve worked with them before, they know what they’re talking about. I’m not being paid to say that either so it’s a personal endorsement. Lastly, if you want to buy used furniture go and check out Facebook Marketplace. Hire a van from B+Q next to Fratton Park and you can pick it all up. There are some absolute bargains on there. Remember to check for the fire label in every instance.
TV Units are easy to buy because so many people put their TV up on the wall nowadays. They’ll sell off their old units to save the space. Why am I telling you to buy a TV unit? In my rental property, I don’t really want the tenant to put TV brackets on the walls because it means a load of holes in the walls. It’s not the end of the world but if they’re not put up properly they can cause damage. It can also cause damage if they put the wrong bracket. Your TV unit should be a simple design and black wood works really well with the white walls and grey carpets. Alternatively, an oak (or oak effect) works well too. IKEA, believe it or not, it a really good place to get this. You can also get some good IKEA stuff on Marketplace too. There’ll be loads of them!
Curtain Pole… Put it up for your tenant. It sounds like a very minor thing to do but it encourages the tenant to put curtains up instead of installing blinds. It also means you can put them up properly and make sure they’re not going to come down. You’ve probably seen those places where the curtain rail or pole is half-hanging off? If you put a robust curtain pole up properly it won’t come down (unless Little Jimmy is hanging off it of course). Choose a chrome pole.
If you have one… Things to get:
- Dining Table
- 4 Chairs
That’s it. This is the easy bit. Go for a wooden table, preferably oak or oak effect. Oak is the most appealing type of wood and also goes well with most décor. Again, buy it new or second hand. I don’t think you can go too far wrong with a dining table as but I would also have a look underneath and see that the table top looks secure. Cheap tables will have table legs that look like they’re attached in a cheap way. This means they’re likely to come loose over time. I actually think it’s a good bet to go second hand here as you can pick up some solid tables which have passed the test of wear and tear. However, if you prefer new go and check out B+Q by Fratton Park, they actually have some really decent stuff there.
Chairs will probably come with the table but if they don’t, you’ll need to find matching chairs which is a pain in the a*se. However, if you get an oak effect table you can get a ‘close-enough’ set of chairs which will be fine. The thinner the chair legs and frame, the more likely they’ll break.
Arguably the most important room in the house. It’s your selling point and also the place where most stuff can go wrong. So what do you put in here…
- Washing Machine
- Nothing Else (unless you’re renting to Students)
Realistically, all you could put in a kitchen is the electrical equipment and white goods for your tenants. I don’t like doing that myself but if you’re set on doing so you’ll need to remember a few things…
First, the white goods WILL go wrong at some point. There will be a cost involved to either replace them or fix them. So why would anybody supply white goods? If you buy the white goods, you know they’re safe and compliant. You know they’re good quality and you know they’re tested. If the tenant supplies their own white goods in your property, you don’t know if they’re compliant or safe. You can request proof of such compliance of course.
If you’re comfortable absorbing the cost of the white goods, you can take out something like British Gas Homecare or similar. You may find a local firm that supply this too. Alternatively, if you have to replace the washing machine and dishwasher every 5 years, it’s not that much of a cost really so you could look it that way.
You’ve probably already got a toilet roll holder. If not, get one and install it. There should also be a towel holder. Just chrome is fine here. I would also add a mirrored cabinet. Admittedly, this is a ‘nice-to-have’ but I think it helps attract the most interest to the property. Plus, you can make sure the cabinet is installed properly. I would check out The Range or try Wilkinsons in Commercial Road. They have a load of really nice looking cabinets which won’t be too expensive.
The easiest and also the most annoying room to furnish in the house. Why? BEDS!!! So what else do you need…
Choosing the bed is a real pain in the butt because no matter what, the slats will break at some point. You can get a divan bed which solves that problem but they don’t look as nice. So, if you get a normal bed frame with slats then I’d actually recommend IKEA because you can buy replacement slats online and they will always have the same designs. However, if you buy a used bed frame try and go for a frame that has excellent support in the middle of the bed. That’s the area that breaks most often. We don’t need to talk about how they break, let’s give the tenants a bit of privacy. Now for the mattress… If you get a normal spring mattress, it’s going to be cheap but uncomfortable. If you get a memory foam mattress, it’s going to be expensive but more comfortable. If you get a Tempur Cloud or something like that, it’s going to be mega-expensive but also mega-comfortable. You can get premium pocket sprung mattresses which are low cost and also quite comfortable. I think they’re a good bet. A good mattress should last 10 years.
The wardrobe is fairly easy and I’d probably go with a second hand one here. However, if you like new stuff you can get yourself to B+Q and grab pretty much any wardrobe. I’d go for the biggest one you can fit in the room. As always, oak is good but expensive. A black wardrobe will go with your décor so IKEA is a good place to go. As a rule of thumb, check the backing of a wardrobe. If it’s flimsy cheap crap at the back of the wardrobe it makes me think the manufacturer hasn’t really focussed on 100% robust quality. That might be wrong but it’s my opinion. If the backing is a decent wood and feels reasonably solid, it means the rest of the wardrobe is more likely to be robust. I’m probably opening myself up to a debate there so I welcome alternative opinions.
If you’ve gone for a furnished Student rental property, you’ll need to go above and beyond. Most students will come to the city with nothing so you’ll need to supply everything. Including:
- Desk Chair
- Cooking utensils
Go with the basics here. Matching equipment will be more appealing but stick with the main brands so you can be sure they’re robust and tested. You can get cheap and robust stuff from IKEA and it’s really cheap too. Get your electrical stuff from Curry’s in Ocean Retail Park or go to The Range. Get a bagless hoover… A bag hoover will never get changed and ends up stinking the place out. Get a TV from AO.com. They have good deals most of the time and come with a warranty. If you buy second hand, make sure it’s got a HDMI cable port. The desk should be wood and must follow the same guidelines as the dining table. If it looks like you could break it easy, it will get broken easily. Get yourself down to LAM near Burrfields for desk and chairs. They sell really good used furniture and they’re pretty cheap too.
There it is, the guide to furnishing your rental property. If you have a large family home you plan to rent out, it’s likely you’ll have a family that will already have their own furniture. Here’s a tip for anybody that has a few properties… Keep the furnishing basics in storage and use it every time you have an empty property. Then you can offer the property furnished or unfurnished.
I hope that helps. If it did, let me know. Either message me on Facebook or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have any additional advice you think helps landlords, let me know. Share this around and together we’ll help other landlords.
See you all soon.