Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

IT PAYS TO BE SOFT ON FURNISHINGS; THE ACCIDENTAL LANDLORD; Landlord Victoria Whitlock Discovers a Little Ruse -- If You Are Nice to Your Tenants, Then the Taxman Will Be Generous to You

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

IT PAYS TO BE SOFT ON FURNISHINGS; THE ACCIDENTAL LANDLORD; Landlord Victoria Whitlock Discovers a Little Ruse -- If You Are Nice to Your Tenants, Then the Taxman Will Be Generous to You

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Whitlock

SOD'S Law dictates that if you advertise an unfurnished property, tenants will ask you to buy furniture but, if you furnish a place, a tenant will want it empty. They can sometimes be annoying like that.

I'd originally intended to let my one-bedroom flat unfurnished, as this was easier and cheaper for me at the outset. But my first-ever tenant requested a sofa, the second wanted a bed, wardrobes and two chests of drawers and the third asked for a table and chairs.

Eager to please I supplied everything they asked for, spending close to [pounds sterling]2,000 in total, so now my flat is pretty much fully furnished.

My husband, with his businessman's eye always on the bottom line, thinks I'm crazy to have bought so much stuff -- he'd tell the tenants to buy their own furniture or find another flat -- but there is method in my madness.

Landlords pay less tax on furnished properties because they qualify for a 10 per cent wear and tear allowance from the Inland Revenue.

After five years I will have recovered the cost of the furniture by cutting my tax bill and in year six I will be in profit. See, I'm not so crazy after all.

There's a hitch, however. My latest tenant, who initially took the flat furnished, has now bought lots of his own stuff and he no longer wants the bed, wardrobes and sofa. He'd like me to get rid of them. I could say no, my husband wants me to say no, but the tenant is great and I don't want him to leave.

Nor do I want to sell the furniture because it's good quality and I don't want to have to buy more if and when this tenant does move out, so I decide to stick it in a self-storage unit nearby in Wandsworth.

The monthly rent I'm quoted is way more than I'd pay for a unit somewhere off the North Circular, but when I tell that to the guy on the end of the phone he knocks 20 per cent off the price, so I reckon I've got a great deal. …

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