Get the Right Inside Information ; to Furnish or Not to Furnish? Tenants Are Setting the Agenda for Landlords, Says Ginetta Vedrickas
Vedrickas, Ginetta, The Independent (London, England)
It may now be a tenant's market but a flexible landlord still needs to know what tenants prefer: the bare walls of an unfurnished property on which they can stamp their own personality, or the convenience of a ready furnished place where they simply have to unpack.
"It depends absolutely on your area," says Malcolm Harrison of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents: "I'd say that at the bottom end a tenant's preference is for furnished and at the top end they prefer unfurnished, but there are quirks. I was told by an agent in the Thames Valley that everyone there prefers furnished but they bring their own beds."
Does furnishing a property guarantee higher rents? "You must find out what is true for your area. There are no hard and fast rules," says Harrison who warns that furnishing a property will not necessarily produce higher yields but it might help you let: "If a tenant prefers that somewhere is furnished then it pays you to do it to ensure you have no void periods."
Vanessa Gabriel of Hamptons International, Rickmansworth, agrees: "We have a new development in the town centre and have quite a number of flats from there on our books which are all unfurnished. We had a Japanese man who wanted to take one of the flats but he wanted it furnished. The landlord agreed and it's now let for the winter at pounds 1,100 per month."
Furnishing a flat may be costly but, thanks to what seems to be Britain's favourite Swedish import, it's now cheaper and easier than it once was, as Gabriel found with her Japanese tenant: "The landlord got out the Ikea catalogue, the tenant pointed to what he wanted and the landlord bought it. Landlords must be flexible," says Gabriel, who believes that this approach is vital in today's market.
Furnishing a rented property does not affect tenants' rights as it did before the 1988 Housing Act. "The well-intentioned rents acts of the Fifties and Sixties were a total disaster which did their best to kill the market. You ended up with sitting tenants paying pounds 1 a week," says Harrison.
Things may now be different but are they improving? Kirstin Mavric of Winkworth in South Kensington believes that standards are slowly changing as younger, buy-to-let landlords enter the market but she says that the public's growing interest in interiors makes little difference: "You will always get old fashioned landlords who never dream of changing their furniture but you also get developers who constantly try to improve things."
Mavric finds that most landlords are more amenable to installing rather than removing existing furniture: "Storage in London is so expensive that it probably costs more to store than to buy it." American tenants frequently ask landlords to store furniture. "In the US all rented property is unfurnished and they don't know that here most property is furnished so they bring their stuff with them."
Costly storage charges may be unavoidable but avoiding the agonies of queuing in Ikea is now possible as investment flats that come with furniture and …
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Publication information: Article title: Get the Right Inside Information ; to Furnish or Not to Furnish? Tenants Are Setting the Agenda for Landlords, Says Ginetta Vedrickas. Contributors: Vedrickas, Ginetta - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 2, 2001. Page number: 3. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.