This guide will cover what a landlord should provide in an unfurnished property in the UK so that both landlord and tenant know exactly what should be included, as well as how either side can tell the difference between fully furnished, part-furnished or unfurnished rental listings.
An unfurnished property in the UK should include:
- Safety equipment including smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Working light fittings
- Secure windows and doors
- A cooker, hob, kitchen sink
- Bathroom sanitaryware including toilet, basin, bath or shower
- Window furnishings such as blinds, shutters or curtains
Whether you’re a landlord looking to rent out an investment property and are not sure how to list it, or you’re an incoming tenant trying to understand what furniture you will need to purchase for your next home based on the type of space that you will be renting, it’s important to understand what the wording used to describe the furnishing status of the property means so everybody knows what is and isn’t included.
Read on for everything you need to know about what should be included in an unfurnished property as either a landlord or tenant.
What Is A Landlord?
A landlord is somebody who owns a house, flat, land or another kind of building which can be used for commercial or residential uses and rents or leases the space and the rights to use it to another person or business who is known as a tenant.
What Is An Unfurnished Property?
An unfurnished property is a description used to illustrate what level of furniture, fixtures and fittings will be included in a home offered for rent by a landlord. Unfurnished means that the property will have no furniture included, but this doesn’t mean that the building is empty.
Whilst a tenant will need to purchase or bring with them their freestanding items of furniture such as beds, tables, chairs and anything else that they want to make the space homely, an unfurnished property will usually only include floor coverings, window dressings, bathroom suites, power, heating and safety installations that ensure the property is safe and comfortable for others to live in.
What Should Be Included In An Unfurnished Property
Whilst the term ‘unfurnished property’ means that there will be no furniture included in the rental price being paid by the tenant, there are certain fixtures and fittings that are essential to the safety, habitability and security of the home that should always be included as standard in an unfurnished property.
An unfurnished property should come with the following key items that make it habitable:
- A landlord is legally required to provide light fittings that work and are regularly maintained by an electrician.
- Landlords must ensure safety provisions are included including; working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and adequate security for doors, windows and fences. It’s a legal requirement to have smoke alarms installed on each floor of a property and doors and windows must have locks that are working and insurance-approved.
- Landlords are required to provide a cooker and a hob and a kitchen sink
- The property’s exterior should not have gaps or damage that could allow intruders to gain access.
- Curtains, blinds or shutters on windows are not legally required but most landlords choose to include this in unfurnished property listings because they’re made to fit the size and shape of the windows in the property.
- Bathroom suite – shower/bath, toilet and hand basin – these fittings must be provided in sanitary, working order free of leaks, clogged drains or mould on the walls and ceiling.
- Flooring – this could be carpet, vinyl or otherwise
- Any built-in furniture such as wardrobes or storage cupboards that can’t be removed
- Heating via gas or electric to keep the property warm
- Walls and ceilings should be well maintained and without areas of damage that could cause injury to tenants
What About The Building Itself?
We’ve covered what renters should expect to see in an unfurnished property in terms of the furniture, fixtures and fittings, but what about the things that you can’t see when viewing a property like the gas and electrics.
Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, Landlords must ensure the safety of their tenants at all times. As a result of this legislation, landlords must instruct qualified tradespeople to complete periodic checks on electrical wiring, electrical appliances and gas installations throughout the tenancy. They must then supply a copy of the certificates issued to their tenants.
- Landlords must organise gas safety checks every 12 months with a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Landlords must arrange PAT inspections (portable applicant testing) for small electrical items with plugs such as kettles, radios, and microwaves that are included in the property.
Pros Of Unfurnished Properties
The pros of an unfurnished property will largely depend on what furniture incoming tenants already own, how long they intend to stay in the property and their tastes.
Benefits of an unfurnished property include;
- Renters can put their stamp on the property by furnishing it with the furniture that they already own or want to purchase. This helps to create a personal feel to the space they are living or working in.
- Landlords don’t have the expense of replacing furniture when it breaks or gets damaged
- Renters don’t have to worry about having their security deposit docked as a result of damaging furniture provided by their landlord.
- It can be easier and quicker for tenants to move out of unfurnished properties due to a lack of logistics in moving lots of furniture.
- Unfurnished properties may be slighter and cheaper to rent than furnished ones
- Tenants may have different requirements for furniture than the items that are provided in a furnished property. For example, if a double bed is provided but the tenant wants a king-sized, that could be seen as a negative. Leaving the space unfurnished, removes this concern.
Renting unfurnished property is a good idea for renters that have a lot of their furniture and place value on putting their stamp on rental homes. Long term renters are also suited to unfurnished properties as they’re likely to want to add to their space over several years.
Cons Of Unfurnished Properties
From a renter’s perspective, the cons of an unfurnished property will again depend on what furniture they already own, how long they intend to stay in the property and their tastes.
- Tenants renting unfurnished properties may need to spend significant amounts to purchase the furniture they need to live or work comfortably.
- Moving furniture in and out of unfurnished rental properties can cause damage to the walls or the incoming furniture may not fit the space that is being rented which can lead to additional expenses to repair or replace.
- Renting unfurnished property may be less favourable if tenants are looking for short term lets with the flexibility to move out on short notice periods because it will take much more effort to move in and out of an unfurnished property than a furnished one where they can just gather up their personal belongings.
What’s The Difference Between Unfurnished, Part-furnished And Furnished?
Unfurnished Rental Property
An unfurnished property will be rented out in an empty state for tenants to furnish any way they choose. The definition of ’empty’ can be interpreted in different ways. For example, built-in wardrobes in a bedroom could be included in an unfurnished property, and basic functionality such as bathroom suites will be included too.
The only way to be 100% sure what furniture, fixtures and fittings will be included in the property that you’re renting is to check the property’s marketing brochure, talk to the estate agents listing the space or speak to the landlord directly.
Part-furnished Rental Property
A part furnished rental will usually include everything in an unfurnished property plus white goods. Standard white goods usually mean fridges, freezers, cookers, dishwashers, and washing machines and a part-furnished property may also contain other items of furniture that the landlord can remove if requested by the tenant, such as a table and chairs or a set of drawers for example.
The exact items included in a part-furnished rental will vary between listings so tenants must check the tenancy agreement to be certain what is and isn’t included.
Some landlords will be open to removing some of the furniture offered in a part-furnished property if the incoming tenant already has something that would otherwise be included. For example, if a sofa is included in the rental but the new tenant already has one to bring with them, the landlord may be open to storing the sofa included in the property elsewhere for the period of the tenancy.
Furnished Rental Property
A fully furnished property will be rented out to tenants with all white goods and basic furniture including a sofa, dining table and chairs, beds and wardrobes. Essentially any items are generally expected to be needed as a minimum in any home for the occupiers to live comfortably.
The specifics of what will be included in the furnished rental will vary between properties, so it’s important to check the tenancy agreement to see exactly what is included in the price. Some landlords may choose to include additional items such as cutlery, microwaves, hoovers and garden furniture for example, whereas others won’t include this as they consider this to be above and beyond basic needs.
The actual furnishing that will be included in a furnished property will vary between rental properties and there is no one size fits all list
Is Unfurnished Better Or Worse Than Furnished?
On the face of the discussion, an unfurnished property may sound less appealing than a furnished property, but the reality is that whether furnished or unfurnished is better, will depend entirely on the preference and situation that individual tenants have.
- Many tenants prefer to rent an unfurnished property because it allows them to bring their furniture, personality and style to the property with them. This is particularly important if they plan to live there for a longer period.
- It’s also worth remembering, that whether a property comes furnished or unfurnished, is no guaranteed reflection on the decoration or overall condition of the building, so these are other points to consider for renters deciding what kind of property they want to rent.
The best thing a landlord can do when letting out unfurnished property is to ensure that all health, safety and building regulations are adhered to and that their property is maintained in a good condition throughout. The best thing an incoming tenant can do when renting unfurnished property is to pay attention to the individual property particulars or marketing brochure available for the property to understand exactly what is and isn’t included in the price. If you have any questions or it isn’t clear from the listing, the landlord should be willing to confirm what level of furnishings will or won’t be included.
This article has answered the question of what a landlord should provide in an unfurnished property UK. Whilst there is no one definitive answer when it comes to what is included because it varies between property type and landlord, there are some things that landlords must provide and plenty more that landlords should provide to ensure a good landlord and tenant relationship, and compliance with landlord legislation when renting out property in the UK.
- Unfurnished rental properties are available to rent with little or no freestanding furniture and the incoming tenant is required to furnish the property with the furniture they need to live comfortably such as beds, chairs and storage themselves
- Unfurnished property must come with working light fittings, heating, an oven and hob, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, adequate external security for windows and doors, kitchen sink, cooker and basic sanitaryware in the bathroom including toilet, shower and sink.
- Unfurnished property should come with flooring, window furnishings, flooring, walls and ceilings in good state of repair
- Landlords can choose whether or not to include white goods such as cookers, fridges, freezers and washing machines but there is no obligation to provide these in an unfurnished property. If offering these items, the property should be listed as part-furnished.
- Landlords must ensure that unfurnished properties meet safety standards by making sure that the required safety checks on gas and electrics are completed in line with timelines set out in landlord legislation. Copies of these certificates should be shared with incoming tenants.
- Landlords have the choice of whether to rent their property out on an unfurnished, part-furnished or fully furnished basis. They should consider the type of renters that they want to attract when making this decision as those on lower incomes or young students are unlikely to have enough furniture to move into an unfurnished property whereas those looking for long term homes may prefer an unfurnished property that they can grow into.
Whilst this guide has given an overview of what should be included in unfurnished properties, if you’re an incoming tenant looking to rent an unfurnished property, the only way to be 100% sure what furniture, fixtures and fittings will be included in the commercial or residential space that you will be renting is to check the property’s marketing brochure, talk to the estate agents listing the space or speak to the landlord directly.