I received an email today from Shawbrook outlining their Secured BuytoLet Loans which on first glance I nearly ignored as I normally do for other second charge lenders. On second thought though it struck me that I get a lot of questions from readers who would like to raise equity, but either do not want... Read more
One of the biggest decisions a landlord has to make is whether to furnish a rental property or leave it unfurnished. Preparing a property to be rented out can be an expensive process and a furnished property is going to bump up the cost significantly.
However, tenants are prepared to pay more for a furnished property so putting in extra time and effort could pay off in the long run. Here are a number of factors to consider should you decide to go down the furnished route.
What to Include
If you have decided to furnish the property, you may be wondering what items you need to invest in. Let’s start with the basics. Students will expect a furnished apartment to include a bed and a sofa as well as sufficient storage for example wardrobes and drawers.
This is just the basics and this alone could cost you thousands of pounds to purchase. Add on other essential appliances such as washing machines, fridge freezers and ovens to name a few and the price will rise significantly. As a landlord you want your furniture at a price that complements your property investment.
Where to Find Rental Furniture
If you are going down the furnished route, you will have to consider where you are going to source the furniture from. Shopping around for furniture is the best way to find a bargain and this can save you hundreds if you know where to look.
The best place to start your search for high quality, cost effective furniture is online. Searching for the perfect furniture range can be time consuming but thanks to the internet you can search hundreds of stores online at speed.
Choosing a Furniture Company
If you are looking for landlord furniture solutions, it pays to shop around. There is nothing worse than cheap looking furniture and there are many companies out there that stock high quality furniture at a competitive price.
Not all furniture specialists are equal and if you put in the time and effort you can find a company that will cater for your specific needs. As a landlord, you want a company that can save you time and money on your furniture requirements.
There are companies that offer landlords exceptional deals on premium furniture and in some cases you can take advantage of free delivery, assembly and installation.
Rental Furniture Packages
If you want an alternative to purchasing your rental furniture, certain companies give you the option to rent it.
A reputable furniture company will have a number of rental packages to choose from including bespoke packages tailored to landlords that are specifically searching for student furnishings. This can help to save you time on your furniture search and make furnishing your student house a breeze.
Other Things to Consider
As a landlord, it is essential that the furniture you choose meets certain regulations set by trading standards. These regulations ensure the safety of your tenants and protect you from being prosecuted. For example when choosing furniture for your property, it is essential that you opt for chairs, sofas and beds that are made from fire resistant materials.
If you are in any doubt that your current furniture is covered, replace it before you let out your property. Once you have purchased furniture for your rental property and installed it, you will need to add it to the inventory.
These are just a few of the factors to consider when furnishing a student home.
You can find out more information about student landlord furniture solutions online.
A warning to owners of vacant properties to stay alert ahead of G8 Summit
When a property becomes vacant, act quickly to protect it:
• hundreds of riot police swoop on London office squat
• G8 protesters actively planning more targets
• VPS issues tips to protect vacant properties from squatting
Vacant commercial properties are likely to be increasingly targeted for squats, warns Simon Alderson, the recently elected chairman of the Vacant Property Protection Group for BSIA.
Yesterday morning hundreds of riot police descended on a squat in a vacant office off Golden Square, Soho, as protesters planned their activities for the G8 Summit.
Simon Alderson, also Commercial Director for the vacant property specialists VPS, says “After the high profile activity in the morning, we were contacted late yesterday and asked if we could protect the property now that it is vacant again. We rapidly dispatched a team who secured the premises that night.”
“Next week, the UK hosts the G8 Summit, and whilst the protesters will target banks and other City institutions, they may also encourage wider squatting activity. Since the laws changed last year to criminalise the squatting of residential properties, so we can expect more vacant commercial properties to be targeted.” Mr Alderson explains.
An estimated 10,000 protesters are expected in Northern Ireland where the Summit takes place, but protests are likely to be seen in major cities throughout the UK.
“In addition, the cut in housing benefits for low income earners, known as the bedroom tax, may mean some tenants cannot afford to stay in their current accommodation. This could put further pressure on the security of vacant commercial properties.” Mr Alderson states.
The BSIA’s Vacant Property Protection group is planning a detailed guide on best practices to help secure vacant properties, but in the meantime, Mr Alderson summarises six key actions owners can take to help protect their vacant properties.
Top 6 Tips to prevent squatting:
1. When a property becomes vacant, act quickly to protect it. A risk assessment will detail the requirements for a particular site.
2. Ensure the vacant buildings and their perimeters are properly secured and alarmed – the options are numerous from cameras through to security shutters, specialist remote alarms or guards.
3. Turn off utilities, drain down internal water tanks and boilers and use specialist locks to secure utility taps.
4. Check on the premises regularly, at least every week – or more frequently in these heightened alerts – to see if there are any signs of attempted squatting. This is particularly important as there are time limits in implementing an Interim Possession Order, a potentially fast track method to freeing a property from squatters.
5. Remove any articles of value internally and externally, if possible, and clear combustible materials on or by the site – sixty fires a day occur in or by vacant properties, so clearing such items not only reduces the risk but can help comply with the terms of insurance.
6. And talking of insurance – check if you are covered for intrusions and the subsequent costs possible from damage, cleaning and legal fees.
VPS secure more than 90,000 properties and employ over 1500 staff in 100 locations across the UK, the US and mainland Europe. Their core services for vacant properties range from risk assessment, clearing, cleaning and maintenance, through to security, monitoring and preparation for re-letting or sale. These services protect properties against unauthorised access and a variety of hazards such as arson, theft and squatting.
My name is Mark Crampton-Smith, I am a letting agent in Oxford – “ask me anything” I am a member of ARLA, SAFEagent and The Property Ombudsman redress scheme. I am also a landlord. I am responsible for letting and managing nearly 400 units, of which 170 are HMO’s Please feel free to ask me... Read more
Hello all, Ive recently taken over the management of some of my houses from a letting agent. I’ve received monies which are the tenants deposits with instruction from agent to put in a Deposit protection scheme. Can I use these deposits as “rent in advance”. Would I need to have new shorthold tenancy agreements? Thanks for... Read more
Landlords are beset with regulations when renting out property. It is not always realised that some of these relate to the furniture that you provide to your tenant.
In particular the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended).Its all about safety
The furniture regulations, like many of the regulations that apply to rented property, are there for safety reasons. This is because some of the materials used in older furniture are a fire risk and can even produce poisonous gases when burning.
So all furniture and furnishings must carry a manufacturers label at the point of sale, which must be non detachable. Make sure you keep all receipts so you can prove that the furniture is compliant – for example if the non detachable labels get ripped off.
There are some exceptions to the rules. Antique furniture or furniture manufactured before 1950, bed clothes and duvets, loose mattress covers, pillowcases, sleeping bags, curtains and carpets are all excluded. However everything else needs to be compliant.Penalties
The penalties for non compliance with the regulations are quite stringent. They are
- A maximum fine of £5,000 PER ITEM which does not comply
- Potential six month’s imprisonment
- Possible manslaughter charges in the event of death
Note also that if they suffer any damage as a result of the non compliant items, your tenants may also be entitled to sue you for civil damages, and your property insurance will probably be invalidated.
So it is worth making sure that you are compliant with the regulations.Get help from Trading Standards
For more information about the regulations, the best place to go is your local Trading Standards office.
Although these are the people who would normally prosecute you, they would actually far rather help you get things right (its less paperwork for them) . They usually have a selection of useful leaflets and will be able to advise you if you have any questions.
You may also find this page from the Fire Safety Advice Centre helpful.Furniture packs
Rather than worry about whether this piece of second hand furniture is compliant or not however, you may want to consider using furniture packs.
These are designed for landlords and are available from specialist retailers. They will include all the things you will need to furnish your property and will save you a lot of time. These are often competitively priced and you can be sure that all the furniture will be compliant.
You can find details of companies providing them by doing a search on the internet for furniture packs for landlords. You may also want to read this helpful article by landlord Mark Alexander of Property 118.
It is worth making an effort to be compliant as Local Authorities are increasingly looking to enforce these and the other safety regulations. Tenants too are becoming more aware of their rights. So be careful.
Here is a question to the blog clinic from Frances (not her real name) who works for a letting agency
As a follower of your excellent blog, I have a question about taking a property ‘as seen’.
I work for a high street letting agent, recently a young lady came to us needing a property in a hurry but the only place we had in her budget needed redecorating and new carpets.
The tenant said she would move in anyway as long as the work was done later, which to my knowledge was agreed but only in a conversation in the branch and never in writing.
The tenant has moved in and the work has yet to be done, but the landlord has decided not to proceed and the lettings manger has told her that because she took the property ‘as seen’ then she will have to do the work herself.
This has happened a couple of times before, it seems that the ‘taken as seen’ argument in an unfair and dishonest way of securing tenants.
Does the landlord have to do this work and is there anything that the tenant can do?
I agree that it does seem dishonest and unfair, certainly from the tenants point of view.
I can understand it also from the landlords point of view though – for example its always more difficult getting work done when there is a tenant in occupation. There is also no real incentive – as it is not as if they are trying to find a new tenant – they already have one.Letting as seen
Taking a property as seen, means that you accept it as it is, with any problems that there might be which you may not have noticed.
So far as rented properties are concerned however, this cannot get the landlord out of doing repairs which fall under his statutory repairing duties. For example repairs to the roof, plumbing problems, and any repair work required for gas appliances.
So any contract clause which provides for a property to be taken ‘as seen’ will probably be void under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.
However here the items at issues are redecoration and carpets which do not really fall within that category.
In any event, I don’t think this property was let ‘as seen’. The agent said that re-decoration works were going to be done and new carpets laid. The tenant signed the tenancy on that basis.Problems in practice
However, although the landlord will be bound by the agents agreement with the tenant, it may be difficult realistically, for her to do much about it.
For example if it was never put in writing, there is the question of proving that the conversation ever took place.
If she were to make a claim for compensation, even if her claim were successful, I also don’t think any compensation awarded would be very much – so it would not really be worth the bother.Reputational damage
However long term, I do not think doing this sort of thing on a regular basis is a good idea. It could get the agency a bad name.
After all we have the internet and social media now. There are plenty of ways a tenant can make public her dissatisfaction with her experience.Alternative solutions
The obvious solution is to offer the property to the tenant at a slightly lower rent, but I suspect the agent would get into trouble with the landlord if he did that.
Probably the best and most honest way to deal with it, would be to make it clear from the outset that the tenant would have to pay for any redecorating work herself. It would make the property less attractive – but if there is a lack of suitable properties around she would probably have taken it anyway.
And you would then be spared the problem of dealing with a justly aggrieved tenant.
If you are a tenant reading this – always make sure agreements like this are put in writing.