To attract the quality tenants and achieve the highest returns on your investment, you need to present your property in the best possible way. If it looks tired or untidy, it’ll be harder for renters to imagine themselves living there. It's important to take the time and effort to get the place into good shape before putting it on the market, so that when prospective tenants come to view the place they can't resist making an offer.
To help you put together a home that tenants will love, we’ve put this guide together for decorating a rental property, explaining what you need to do to make sure it's a hit on the market.
Rental properties are offered furnished, part-furnished or unfurnished. The option you settle on will likely be determined by the profile of renter you prefer and the addressable market for your property – a family in a will probably want to bring their own furniture, a single young working tenant might hope to move into somewhere furnished.
If you’re furnishing the property, you will need to decide what furniture to include and how much you're willing to spend. While there’s no hard and fast rule for what you need to offer, renters generally expect a minimum of a bed, sofa, a wardrobe for their clothes, and a table and dining chairs. It's also assumed that white goods will be included as standard, even if you advertise the property as unfurnished.
If your property has built-in storage, you might also want to supplement this with a chest of drawers. Consider other furniture like a coffee table, TV stand and extra storage. There’s no need to go overboard, but you want to home to stand out from other rental properties in the market.
Colour tones are always a topic of hot debate. Generally speaking, you should aim to keep everything neutral. People have different tastes, and while one person might like your bright red bedroom, it could be the reason why another prospective renter decides against renting the property.
Beiges, whites and greys are the way to go when decorating a rental property, whether it’s the walls, bathroom tiles or furniture colours. Keep things neutral throughout and let tenants add a touch of colour with their own items. You rarely see a rental property on the market with particular features and colour tones.
Mirrors and wall art
While adding a mirror or wall art can be a nice touch to give the property a homely feel, it’s not a necessity and is probably best avoided altogether. Again, people have different tastes, and items like wall art are a matter of subjective taste.
There isn’t much point in spending money on things like wall art only for a renter to ask if you can remove it before the tenancy begins. On top of that, you will be responsible for replacing items like wall art and mirrors if they break (more on that shortly).
As for mirrors, you can include them, but renters don't tend to expect them. Wall art and mirrors are the types of items tenants usually bring with them from other properties, and it's better to to give them permission to hang up their own decorations. Just remember to direct them to self-adhesive strips so that they can express themselves without damaging the walls!
Outside space can be a strong selling point for a property, especially since Covid, and there has been huge increase in the number of enquiries received on properties with patios, gardens, and even 'just' a balcony. If, however, a prospective tenant turns up to a property and finds an unkempt garden with weeds growing, they're unlikely to rent the property.
If you have outside space, make sure it looks presentable before viewings. Clear out weeds, cut the grass and water the plants. The tenant will be responsible for the garden's upkeep once they move in, but it's up to you to ensure it looks good when the property is listed on the lettings market.
The same goes for any outside space at the front of the property – give it a thorough tidy before viewings for that extra wow factor. First impressions count, and you'll want your property to have some serious kerb appeal when renters show up for viewings.
Space is at a premium in rental properties, especially for apartments in city locations. Everyone would like just a little bit more room to keep their things, whether they're a renter or homeowner. Fortunately, as the landlord you can be creative with furnishings to maximise space.
Wall shelves, ottoman beds and footstools with storage compartments can all add extra space so that renters can store their stuff. If you gain a bit more space with extra storage, your buy-to-let property will likely seem more appealing than similar properties in the area.
Light fixtures, blinds and curtains
Again, there's no rule for what you should and shouldn't supply when it comes to light fixtures. But if you stop short at leaving a bulb in the ceiling, it's unlikely that a renter will be excited about moving in.
Like the other items in the property, keep the light fittings simple. Places like Ikea and Made tend to have affordable yet stylish light fittings, so you don't need to break the bank when it comes to installing the lights.
For fixtures like blinds and curtains, keep things plain and neutral, avoiding loud colours or garish patterns. Always make sure to trial any set of blinds prior to installation to see how easy they are to operate and clean.
Using tiling instead of paint is a smart move as it is easier to clean and much more durable. While it might be more expensive at first, the long-term benefits will save you from forking out lots of money on frequent bathroom redecoration further down the line and keep your property looking newer for longer. If it's a smaller space, you might want to consider choosing a tile halfway up the wall and painting the rest of the space to the room a more spacious feel.
When it comes to the style, again, keep it neutral. Darker colours are probably better for bathrooms, as even the tiniest mark shows up on lighter tiles.
The virtue of keeping it simple
There's a fine line between providing renters with a homely property and going over the top with furnishings. It's also important to remember that you're responsible for anything included in the property. If something breaks through no fault of the tenant, then it's up to you to replace it. While you might not be obliged to do so, if an expectation has been set that a certain amenity is available in the property it can create resentment and sour your relationship with the tenants if it is suddenly no longer available.
Additionally, you are liable for the safety of any items or appliances you provide with the property. For example, if an unsafe electrical appliance injures a tenant or damages their personal property, you may have to compensate them accordingly or, in a worst case scenario, face criminal consequences for negligence.
For that reason, it's wise to keep it simple. This is easy for unfurnished properties, as you'll only need to provide appliances like fridges and washing machines. If, however, you offer a furnished property, there's no real need to include any items other than appliances and essential furniture like beds and sofas. If you do offer additional furniture and electronics, ensure that they are safe for use before leaving them in the property (e.g by arranging for a PAT test of any electrical items).
Of course, that doesn't mean you can't include more in the property – a tenant looking for somewhere fully furnished is more likely to rent a place with everything they need. Just remember that you're responsible for paying for the initial furniture costs and any replacements.
Summary: getting your property rental ready
Decorating a rental property the right way will help you attract more tenants, with it hopefully spending less time on the lettings market as a result. With our tips, you can ensure that your property is in tip-top shape, ready to attract renters with its sleek and stylish looks.
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