Buy to let advice on furnished or unfurnished & refurb please!

(21 Posts)
Anantara Wed 24-Feb-16 12:35:01

Hi, we bought a flat last year that was already rented, and kept the tenant, he's moving out at the end of the month. I could really do with some advice on how much to refurbish it.

I think it needs painting, so was going to go through and redo in taupe as there are some dark feature walls which look dated. And obviously give it a really deep clean.

The kitchen and bathroom are in good condition, but the kitchen looks dated. Its got a blue marble effect worktop, blue tiles and doors which have a blue insert - would you change this?

The furniture is Ikea cheapest, plus a white leather sofa and armchair. Would you let unfurnished, eave in this stuff or renew?

The flat is in the upmarket area of a city so tenants are likely to be professional couple. Thanks

Diamogs Wed 24-Feb-16 12:37:53

Unfurnished on the basis that if it breaks / goes wrong / wears out then you will have to replace it.

Yes to a lick of paint, and would do the kitchen if marketing to professional couples.

EssentialHummus Wed 24-Feb-16 12:41:38

I'd repaint in a functional, neutral colour (white/off-white). If the kitchen is broadly OK but dated, new doors (rather than whole units) might be a good compromise. In my neck of the woods tenants seem to prefer furnished/semi-furnished.

Anantara Wed 24-Feb-16 13:02:52

Wow thanks for your quick messages, letting agent said leave furniture, because not many are available furnished, but the furniture isn't great and I thought if you're paying a lot for a flat you're going to expect a certain standard of furniture.
Will try to upload photo of kitchen. Would really help to have some suggestions, I was hoping to just replace doors, retile and replace work top.

bojorojo Wed 24-Feb-16 13:03:41

Unfurnished is best. Does your furniture meet fire regulations regarding foam seats, for example? Wood table and chairs are not problematic but beds can be. Decide what white goods you need to have. Agents know what you should provide.

If it is in an up market area, then surely it is worth re-doing the kitchen? If properties fly out of the door, then possibly just change the doors although this is a fuss if the doors are odd sizes. You will possibly not cover the expense with higher rental, but you will add value. In my view, you will get better tenants too. People who look after the place. Dated flat, less careful tenants often go together. It can take longer to rent out too if there are lovely new/renovated properties also available in this area.

bojorojo Wed 24-Feb-16 13:07:08

Just seen photo. It is not so bad, is it? Wooden doors to match the wall cupboards would be better. Agree neatral tiles would be far nicer too. Also do you have the necessary alarms?

If agent says furnished, go with that but the comment about fire regulations for upholstery still important.

Anantara Wed 24-Feb-16 13:07:24

Can't believe it worked, photos of furniture in sitting room.

lalalonglegs Wed 24-Feb-16 13:10:18

I agree that the kitchen looks fine. I think it would make more sense to replace it after April 2017 when the new BTL tax rules come into force and you want to be able to deduct as much as you can in terms of expenses.

Anantara Wed 24-Feb-16 13:15:07

Pictures help so much don't they! I couldn't decide, it's not awful, and is in good condition, but you wouldn't put it in now!

Will the new tax rules make any difference to me if I'm a basic rate taxpayer?

SauvignonPlonker Wed 24-Feb-16 13:18:35

Unfurnished is better in terms of forthcoming tax changes, however I rent out furnished as that's what the market here demands ( young professionals, average tenancy 1-2 years). I would have less "rentability" if I let without appliances, furniture etc.

EssentialHummus Wed 24-Feb-16 13:24:34

I think the kitchen looks fine OP. Make sure you have your ducks in a row re smoke a d carbon monoxide alarms (there was a change to the law in October I think), deposit protection, sending a copy of the EPCetc.

Anantara Wed 24-Feb-16 13:32:06

Thanks, great to have some reassurance, and really good if I don't have to change.

I think I looked up about the CM alarm, but thought I didn't need one. Only gas appliance is boiler, no solid fuel. Was going to use a letting agent to find tenant, but then manage myself.

Anantara Wed 24-Feb-16 13:34:17

SauvignonPlonker what standard of furnishings do you put in for young professionals and what are the basics you provide? This has everything, ironing board, cutlery and crockery, microwave, etc, but I was going to bin a lot of the little things as they just look tatty and old.

lalalonglegs Wed 24-Feb-16 14:27:46

If you're well under the threshold, you should be fine but, if the gross rent you get is likely to push you into the 40% band, then it will make a difference.

specialsubject Wed 24-Feb-16 14:49:09

you don't need a CO alarm but it is good practice. You certainly must have smoke alarms in the right places.

you need to get your tenant to sign off with smoke alarms, receipt of how to rent booklet, gas safe and several other things. There are now all sorts of things to get wrong which means you can't evict if needed.

cestlavielife Wed 24-Feb-16 14:56:45

just leave the furniture for now put it on as furnished/unfurnished. some tenants will want the furniture eg just arrived on working holiday from Australia some wont.

then discuss with tenant if they dont want to keep it.

19lottie82 Wed 24-Feb-16 15:04:48

I let out a flat, and id advise unfurnished all the way.

Firstly you won't have anyone pestering you that this needs replaced (££££). You won't have to argue out deductions for any furniture damaged when returning deposits (hassle).

Secondly the difference between the rent on furnished and unfurnished is very little, so hardly makes renting worth it.

And thirdly, I believe that renting an unfurnished property attracts renters that are more settled, less likely to do a midnight flit, and are more likely to stay long term.

Alwayscheerful Wed 24-Feb-16 15:24:30

The repairs are a deductible expense before and after the new tax year in April. There is little change if you are BR tax payer.

This tax year i.e. up to y/e 5.4.16 the Furnished property allowance is 10% of the rent p.a. regardless of expenditure and that is on replacements not on initial purchases.
Next tax year i.e. after 6.2.16 only actual expenditure on furnishings is allowable.

Furnished/unfurnished? In central Birmingham tenants mostly expect apartments to be furnished,your letting agent is the best person to speak to, or look on Rightmove and see what the majority of landlords are offering.

Kitchen looks fine i would change the tiles and go for neutral paint. If you have several properties use the same colour, if possible paint the ceiling and walls the same colour it saves cutting in.

lalalonglegs Wed 24-Feb-16 16:16:24

Sorry if I didn't make myself clear: it would be best to save as many expenses as possible until after the tax changes as it will be important to anyone with a mortgaged BTL to keep their profits as low as possible to avoid crossing into higher rate tax band if at all possible. Replacing the kitchen next year - or later - will also mitigate the loss of the 10% furnishings allowance you currently enjoy.

SauvignonPlonker Wed 24-Feb-16 19:15:47

OP, I don't include small items eg kettle/toaster/microwave, or ironing boards.

I do provide a sofa, kitchen table & chairs, bed with mattress, wardrobes & chest of drawers. This was all in the flat before I let it out ( it was my own flat rather than BTL).

I know you didn't ask this, but in your shoes (a new self-managing LL), I would seriously consider using an agency for an initial period. Or at the very least, an inventory clerk for preparing the inventory & taking embedded date-stamped photos (required if you ever need to dispute a deposit claim with a tenant through one of the deposit schemes).

I would also have a look at the Landlordzone forums to see what kind of issues self-managing LL are dealing with. It will most likely be an eye-opener.

bojorojo Wed 24-Feb-16 22:58:00

I was also going to say, don't manage it yourself. I started doing this but one tenant was not paying me and became surly. Ended up being wanted by the Police. He was "found" by an agent. I also felt his girlfriend was scared of him. Get the property in good condition and let the professionals manage it until you become more experienced. They will also guide you regarding furnished (unfurnished is normal here), the deposit, inventory, contract and help you with repairs. Do you have repair men/builders/plumbers on speed dial? Something always goes wrong! Small things such a door handle falling off, to bigger problems such as a fence blowing over in high winds. Your agent will help you through all of this.

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