Residents have different needs and expectations when it comes to furniture so it’s worth considering leasing or renting
As the UK BTR market continues to evolve, the decision on whether to furnish none, some, or all the properties in your portfolio can be difficult.
Not all potential residents have the same furnishing needs. Some may require only the large-value items such as beds, sofas and dining tables; others want a rent-ready, fully-furnished unit, while the remainder will be bringing their own items. A one-size-fits-all approach to furnishing can reduce the scope of residents your property appeals to and accumulate cost.
However, the provision of window treatments is a given to maintain a uniform appearance when looking at the building from outside and to prevent unwanted damage to walls and window surrounds.
Typical furnishing options
Choosing not to furnish can save on initial capital outlay and the ongoing management cost of repairs, maintenance and sourcing replacement products.
The risk to only providing unfurnished units is losing potential residents who don’t possess their own furniture, don’t want to purchase furniture, or who are simply looking for a furnished option.
Partnering with a furniture rental company offers residents the chance to select pieces which fit their lifestyle for the period they need them for
This risk can be mitigated by partnering with a furniture rental company who would be able to offer residents the chance to select furniture to meet their lifestyle and needs for the period they need it for. This is a very popular option in the United States, and as an amenity you may be able to generate an incremental revenue stream through referral fees from the company you partner with.
Full or part-furnished
If your market research has determined you need to furnish your properties, you may decide to only furnish a percentage of them, leaving the rest unfurnished to capture those residents who have their own. These can ultimately be offered with a furnishing option.
The funding of the furniture acquisition can take the form of either:
Outright purchase: The purchase of furniture can be treated as a capital expenditure and rolled into the build costs for new properties, but this would not apply for replacements through damage or natural wear and tear. Thus, the management on-cost of the furniture should also be taken into consideration, along with the overall purchase cost.
Leasing or rental: Furniture rental has become a more accepted way of furnishing. As well as flexible rental terms from one to 12 months, some companies can offer a long-term rental of 12 to 48 months, although this is typically at scale. In this case you are paying a monthly rental for the furniture, which will more than likely be treated as an operating cost, but you will typically benefit from having the provider warranting the furniture for the period and being responsible for the sourcing of any repairs or replacements required.
It is crucial to engage with potential suppliers of both the furniture and window treatments as early as possible, to ensure the furniture is going to be available in time for your residents to move in.
While a piece of furniture may have the “wow” factor and be on budget, how easy is it to clean and repair if it is damaged?
Beyond the above there are numerous other things to consider when furnishing the apartments.
Style and substance: While a piece of furniture may have the “wow” factor and be on budget, how easy is it to clean and repair if it is damaged? Will it be comfortable for day-to-day use? Will the product stand up to the rental market and still look good for the second, third or fourth renter? Is it safe?
Environmental considerations: The carbon footprint of the furniture you select should be a major consideration, particularly if your funding is coming from a major institution such as a pension fund. Ask suppliers whether they’re sourcing sustainable materials. Where is the furniture made? Does the manufacturer have strong environmental and ethical controls?
Ask also how the furniture is being transported. Is the furniture packaging recyclable? Will it be recycled?
For furniture coming to the end of its life cycle, consider how it will be disposed of. Is the furniture made of recyclable components? Can it be reused elsewhere?
A rental option can be a valuable way of providing sustainable furniture, as the rental company will re-rent furniture or sell it on for further use, extending its life and preventing it from ending up in landfill.