As a buy to let investor, you may know by now that creating the right look for your property can help attract the right kind of tenants and maximise the rental income you are able to secure. If you’re new to the buy to let market, it makes sense to invest in your interiors which can boost rental revenues by as much as 20%.
Doing up your rental property: top tips
When people visit a property, they buy into the lifestyle. They will instantly imagine themselves in the surroundings – and they should want to spend time there. Even if you are renting out the property unfurnished, don’t leave it completely bare for viewings. Create a ‘scene’ with select furniture and accessories – a set table, an inviting patio set, a ‘reading corner’ with a cosy armchair, books and a lamps – so they can envision how renting the property would feel. Although you want the look to be universally appealing, try to include a few bits that aren’t from Ikea. Supermarket home-ware departments and Wilkinsons are good place to pick up cheap accessories that aren’t run of the mill.
Before you go shopping, decide on a colour scheme. Keep most things neutral but add a little colour through items that the tenant can change – such as soft furnishings, curtains or blinds – to give the property personality.
Avoid wallpaper as this is really a matter of personal taste. Prospective tenants will know they have to live with your choice for the duration of their tenancy and it may put them off. Wallpaper is also easily damaged and can quickly look shabby – adding to your expense when it comes to reletting the property.
When choosing furnishings, don’t introduce too many pieces. Creating a sense of space is important, particularly if the property is small. Large mirrors can help create more space and light in a room. Curtains that allow light to filter through will maximise the natural light – couple with blinds to allow tenants to block out the light when they need to.
If the items will stay in the property (i.e. it will be partly or fully furnished), choose items that are durable and practical. Make sure soft furnishings and carpets can be cleaned and treated.
Refreshing the kitchen and bathroom before your viewings are two areas of investment that will pay off for longer than furnishings and knick-knacks. Replacing worktops in the kitchen can make a huge difference, and if your cabinets are structurally fine, you may only need to replace the doors to give the kitchen a complete facelift. A luxury bath or decent shower is a good spend in the bathroom – and a separate shower cubicle rather than an overbath shower is usually a popular addition where space allows.
When it comes to buying appliances, there’s no need to splash out on flashy brands. Most tenants will be satisfied with good quality names that offer reasonable functionality. Mainstream brands and lines will usually be easier and cheaper to repair too.
Finally, before you get started, make sure you know the tax rules. Money spent on repairing the property, such as fixing a broken window or door, is tax deductible. Replacing white goods, painting and decorating are also included in that bracket. Money spent on renovations, improvements or extensions is not tax deductible. Landlords used to have a 10% ‘wear and tear’ allowance but this no longer applies – so it makes sense to provide only what is completely necessary.