Ideally, the landlord should be flexible; open to the idea of providing a furnished or unfurnished home, in order to maximise interest and attract the widest net of rental applications.
But the reality is that many tenants look for a furnished home, as it offers greater flexibility and saves them money by not having to buy furniture.
“Some 80 per cent of rental applicants demand furnished property, and so a furnished home is likely to have greater appeal and encourage more viewings and offers, in turn reducing void periods,” said ex-letting agent and Head of the Next Day division at David Phillips furniture group, Richard Beltran. A professionally kitted out house or apartment can ultimately help sell a lifestyle dream, not to mention add rental value to a property.
Beltran added, “A good agent is effectively a marketer who needs to capture the tenant’s imagination, and this can be done by having the right furniture package designed to sell a particular lifestyle.”
But before you send your landlords off to IKEA, you need to factor in their extra costs.
Buying all the furniture for a property can be a major expense for a landlord, especially if money is tight or an owner-occupier ends up letting a property out as a result of circumstance, and a moribund sales market, rather than by design.
FURNITURE RENTAL IS ANOTHER OPTION
Beltran continued, “Because cashflow is a major issue for some landlords, renting furniture can be a more cost effective way to furnish a rental property – both for cash strapped investors, and ‘accidental landlords’ who plan to sell their property in six to twelve months. What’s more, rented furniture can be adapted to suit different types of tenants, from a family to professional sharers.”
Furniture hire services cater for all levels of homes from studios to mansions and landlords, tenants, homeowners, developers, letting agents, relocation agents.
The demand is accelerating but flexibility of term and value are key decision factors.” Christopher Ellison Fully Furnished
Christopher Ellison (left), Sales Manager at Fully Furnished, says that the market for rented furniture is as broad as the is as the customer base, “There are many types of customers, ranging from corporate relocatees who need furnishings whilst their own possessions are being shipped from overseas to young private individuals who are renting property and want the flexibility of not owning furniture, or perhaps do not have the means to purchase.”
From a tailored furniture package through to single items and electrical equipment, such as televisions and kitchen items, there are a host of services available.
All our furniture is delivered and placed by a highly trained installation team; they leave the property ready, clean and tidy.” Graham Smith Roomservice
It is estimated that there are now around 4.8 million privately rented homes in Britain, up from just 2.5 million in 2002. In London alone, private renting already accounts for 27 per cent of all homes, some 900,000, having overtaken social renting in 2010, which now accounts for just 24 per cent of tenure or 783,000 homes. Consequently, a rising volume of investors are entering the marketplace, while many existing landlords are actively adding to their property portfolios, boosting demand for furniture hire services in the process.
“We are seeing a steady increase in demand for furniture rental driven in part by the accelerating demand in the PRS sector, but flexibility of term and value are key decision factors for clients,” Ellison added. “All property types can be catered for, but the majority of projects tend to be urban area apartments.”
FURNISHING LETS: WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT
Furnishing colour fashions change, not so long ago it seemed all sofas were brown, but today popular colours are pastels, vibrant blues and emerald greens, while warmer metal finishes such as gold and brass are taking over from silver, according to Graham Smith (left), Managing Director of Roomservice by CORT. He said, “We respond to changing trends by keeping a good base of furniture in neutral colours and by using accessories and artwork in the key colours of the season.”
Furniture that is geometric and contemporary, designed specifically for rental use meaning it is durable and good value are always likely to prove popular. “Big things for 2013 are digital prints on fabrics and high gloss and shine finishes on furniture,” Smith added. “The beauty of natural woods, mixing textures, strong colour palettes such as yellows, greens, copper and brass are all currently hot.” Whatever furniture a landlord, tenant or managing agent opts for; there are a wide range of landlord furniture packs available, with various tailored designs to suit almost all properties, from small city apartments to large luxury family homes.
Although there aren’t very many companies offering full furnishing services to landlords and tenants, there’s significant pricing competition in the furnishings market, so the leading companies keep their profiles high by keeping up with the times – it is really easy now for a landlord to establish exactly what is available to rent, what is expected by today’ tenants, how it will suit their property, how much it will cost and when they can have it
– all without leaving their computer screen (or iPad)!
Fully Furnished’s website is especially good for this. With four ranges of furnishing packages available, clear diagrams take you through what is included in each package. All the components are selected to work together and provide not just furnishings, but a carefully co-ordinated ‘designed’ look.
If you click on ‘Sample Plans’ you choose the number of bedrooms in the property and up comes a floorplan and list of included items: 2 x 2 seat sofas, 1 x coffee table, 2 x lamp tables, dining table and four chairs. For the two bedrooms, each has a double bed and headboard, chest of drawers, 2 bedside tables – all for £313 per month. Also available lists packs of kitchen equipment, linen, electricals, audio, accessories, white goods… imagine how long that would take to go and choose on the High Street!
Aside from saving money by not having to buy furniture, homeowners can also avoid potential storage costs by opting to rent furniture.
Shorter term furniture packs for a tenancy of around three months are more expensive, with a one-bedroom flat featuring a reception room, kitchen and bedroom typically costing from around £200 per month. Most suppliers are happy to supply inexpensive solutions too, Graham Smith at Roomservice says, “Our basic fully equipped 12-month furniture package for a two-bedroom fl at is our Astor package at just £199 +VAT per month. It gets even cheaper for a three-year rental; just £100.50 per month + VAT, but we cater for all budgets.”
Smith added, “We offer a full ‘turn-key’ service. All of our furniture is delivered, installed and placed by a highly trained installation team who will make beds, put away crockery and housewares and leave the property clean and tidy.”
For those that do prefer buying furniture rather than renting, the apparent bargain prices at IKEA still don’t cut the mustard, says Richard Beltran at David Phillips, “Our prices are the same – but we deliver, assemble, install and style each property within the price. Many of our products are also available next day and can often turnaround an entire project in seven days.” Try asking IKEA to do that!”
Ben Hall, Loft Interiors says, “Buying from a professional furnishing supplier that specialises in the residential property market is always going to be easier than buying from IKEA. Short term – our prices include delivery, assembly, installation, removal of all packaging and professional staging – so no headaches with your screwdriver! IKEA furniture can often have fixtures and fittings missing – purchasing from LOFT there is no need to worry about this type of thing!”
With Savills forecasting that one in five households in the UK will be renting a property by 2016, resulting in a requirement for an additional 1.1 million rental homes, it is clear that there is plenty of room for growth as far as the furniture hire sector is concerned.
● Fully Furnished www.fullyfurnished.com
● Loft Interiors www.loft-interiors.co.uk
● David Phillips www.davidphillips.com
● Roomservice by CORT www.roomservicebycort.com