Should I Furnish My Rental Property?

Written on February 23, 2013 by , updated on June 11, 2014

Should I Furnish It?To furnish or not to furnish, that is the question!

The answer: You should furnish a property only if it will be more profitable in the long run.

Many factors go into this, such as; will furnishings make the property more marketable, and will you be able to charge more rent for it?

This article discusses the Pros and Cons of furnishing your rental property.

What’s Standard?

Neither, it is completely up to the owner.  However, there is much to consider before making a decision.

In the United States, most unfurnished rental units come standard with basic appliances such as a refrigerator, oven, microwave, and range top. Dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers, if present, are usually a bonus.  But what about furniture such as couches, beds, dressers, tables, chairs, and even linens?

There are a number of things to consider when deciding to furnish a rental; such as the costs of damages, tax benefits, and whether or not the addition of furnishings will indeed make a property more attractive to your target renter.

Furnished Rentals

Furnished Room

A Furnished Room

ProA More Complete Package

The benefits of furnishing a property (having beds, sofas, etc) can make a home much more attractive to potential renters who don’t have their own furniture. However, this might be the result of these tenants being students, first time renters, or professionals looking for short-term leases. Having a “ready-made” apartment or house means that you are offering tenants a more complete package.

ProHigher Rent & Tax Benefits

Furnishing a property also means that you can pass on the costs of outfitting a place to tenants through higher rents – you may also be able to claim back part of the value of expensive furniture against your tax bill as a 5-year depreciable asset.

If you want to furnish a property, but don’t have the money to buy the furnishings, you may want to consider renting the furniture from a local company.  This can be a particularly good idea for televisions and other electrical goods, although you will need to keep them in excellent condition to avoid losing your deposit.

ConDamage and Storage of Furniture

Having furniture in place similarly means that you have the choice of either keeping items in place or putting them in storage if you do get someone who doesn’t want them – which is easier than having to invest in new furniture every few years. Of course, the flip-side to this is that an investment in expensive furniture can seem difficult to justify if tenants consistently damage items. You’ll also need to pay for regular safety checks for electrical items.

Pro Con Short-Term Rentals

Tenants who are looking for furnished rentals sometimes only plan to be in town for a few months.  This isn’t always the case, but often times, you’ll attract more short-term tenants (1-3 months) rather than long-term tenants (1+ years) if your rental is furnished.  On a positive note, you can charge a premium if you are willing to accept short-term tenants.

Unfurnished Rentals

Unfurnished Room

The same room, unfurnished

ProTenants can “Make it their Own”

By contrast, an unfurnished property means that you don’t have as many complications as you would with furnishings. Tenants that effectively want a blank slate can just move in with their own items, subject to approval. Note, your lease agreement is allowed to prohibit some items – such as waterbeds.

ProLess Maintenance

What an unfurnished property does achieve, though, is a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to maintenance. You can specify, for example, that tenants have to pay towards cleaning a property after removing their furniture, which can help to remove marks and other damage caused by wear and tear. You also have more space in which to make decor changes, which might include repainting or laying in new flooring, without having to worry about working around a lot of furniture.

ConLess Rent and More Uncertainty

You may not be able to charge as much rent to tenants, and cannot always guarantee that a tenant’s furniture won’t cause damage to your property by being too heavy, or unsafe.  Hot Tubs, when filled, are heavy enough to cause a deck to collapse.

Summary

In general, furnishing a property does have a lot of benefits, but only if you are able to offset the cost of maintenance and the risk of damage against the increase in rent that you can potentially charge.

Consider your target audience.  Is your rental is in a young trendy area where most tenants are 25 years old and don’t own much furniture?  Or, is the surrounding population mostly families with 3 kids who already have a ton (literally) of furniture?

Always remember that any furnished property has to be suitable for your tenants – there’s no point spending a lot of money on designer furniture if you have unreliable or messy tenants.

In summary, you should furnish a property only if it will be more profitable in the long run.

Consider your replacement, damage, and storage costs associated with furnishings. Ask yourself the following questions. Are you really getting significantly more rent compared to an unfurnished rental?  After expenses and upkeep of that furniture, are you making enough money to validate the extra hassle? Each property situation and rental market is different, so be sure you think it though before making a decision.

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36 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Anna Scheller

    If I am a rental property owner, I will have my apartment furnished so that it will attract renters easily. It is just that you have to take care of your furniture. You may make an agreement with the renter and make a list of the furniture that you have in the property. Or if your tenant want to make it their own then just have the agreement like that.

  • Lucas Hall

    Anna,

    Making an inventory list of all the furnishings is the best thing to do if you furnish the property. Include everything from the sofa’s to the # of drinking glasses. This should be part of your Move-In checklist – which would include an inventory sheet attached to it.

  • tom

    i have lived in this property for over nine years and the landlord has never decorated or replaced furniture or bedding in that time.should they have done so.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tom,
      It’s highly unusual for a landlord to redecorate a furnished unit while a tenant is living there, for two reasons:
      1. It disrupts the quiet and peaceful enjoyement by the tenant
      2. The tenant might not like the new design/style.

      With furnished units, usually things get replaced between tenancies or when something breaks.

      Even though the place comes furnished, *my opinion* is the tenant should take some responsibility to replace things that they’ve used up or exhausted – such as bed sheets, towels, light bulbs, smoke detector batteries, plates and flatware if they break, etc.

      If there is something that you would like the landlord to replace, just ask him/her. The worst they can say is “no”. After nine years, I hope you have a friendly relationship with the landlord.

      • Dennis

        Hi Lucas,
        This is not correct. I pay a premium price for a furnished apartment which is usually 250-300 euros more than a non furnished apartment. After 8 years, sofas, beds, arm chairs have a good amount of wear. So I don’t see why I should still pay the same premium amount as before. The landlord has to reduce the monthly rent or replace all the furniture with new ones. I mean do I have to buy furniture myself and leave them to him at the end??? Or do I have to have an apartment which looks bad with old furniture and I can’t even invite someone to my place because of this?
        For 8 years (96 months) I paid 250 euros more for a furnished apartment. This makes 24.000 more in all these years. Don’t you think the landlord has to replace ALL furniture every 5 years??? He had enough money from me

        Rgds,
        Dennis

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Dennis,

          Thanks for your comment. If you expect your landlord to replace the furniture every 5 years, you would have to put that in the lease and get him to agree to it. Otherwise, as long as the furniture has some useful life left, the landlord is allowed to decide when it should be replaced.

          Just because something is old doesn’t mean it needs to be replaced. Plus there are many factors that go into an items durability, such as material, quality of construction, use, etc. With that said, if something breaks, like a chair leg, then the landlord would have to repair/replace it.

          Your example of paying 24.000 over the the last 8 years is a good one. For this exact reason, it is more profitable for the landlord to offer a furnished apartment. Furnishings are a item of convenience. Furnishings make it easy to move-in, and are great for short-term rentals. But because of the extra expense, I’ve never had anyone stay in a furnished rental longer than a year. You, my friend, are the only person I’ve ever heard of who has stayed 8 years.

          Furnishings are not required for habitability, and most tenants who intend to stay for a long period of time, usually look for an unfurnished unit, or ask the landlord to remove the furnishings so they can buy their own and save some money.

          If you want to save some money, I suggest asking the landlord to remove the furnishings the next time your lease is about to renew. You can use this as leverage to sign a cheaper lease. However, it also might backfire if the landlord is set on renting a furnished unit – and he might just find another tenant.

          Thanks for sharing, Good luck!

  • Victoria

    Furnishing an apartment is a choice and it depends on what you have to do next if you have did it. Comfortable is a word that people are looking for. If you have made your old apartment to be the new one and your tenants love it, it must be a positive change. It obviously refers to your willingness.

  • Johnathan

    I’m a property manager in SW Florida and 80% of the properties I work with want to rent fully furnished. Maybe it is different in other markets and more popular but It is defiantly a challenge because there are a lot more annual tenants here than short term and I can tell you with certainty from all the feedback I’ve gotten that the annual renter is NOT interested what-so-ever in fully furnished properties at all! I do not believe you can rent for a premium with furniture unless it’s a short term lease! Most renters are savvy and looking for value and space, not which place is more nicely furnished! If a tenant cannot afford to furnish a place, they should not be renting in general and i think most people would prefer to pay less each month and furnish on their own. If they can’t afford furniture how will they afford a premium rate for a furnished property? Again, furnished rentals are only good for short term leases and the rate is sometmes a little higher but not a significant amount to justify paying to furnish an entire house. In my market, to get several short term leases a year is very unlikely, so annual is always the best for GRI. Bottom line, people have their own furniture and do not want to be responsible for someone else’s things. Also everyone has their own personal style and taste and not everyone is going to like your decorating style and if it’s not universal enough it will turn away a lot of prospective tenants who would have otherwise decided to sign a lease!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Johnathan,

      I’m in agreement with you. Tenants interested in short-term leases are typically the only people who ask for a furnished rental.

      In my experience, the only exception are units in amazing locations. For example, I use to have a small condo (338 sq ft) next to the congress buildings. I had 3 tenants over 5 years, all of which wanted it furnished.

      My in-laws have a beach front condo in Satellite Beach Fl, which they rent out for 8-12 months at time – fully furnished.

      I think these are exceptions to the rule. Generally speaking, most tenants looking for leases longer than 6 months typically have their own stuff.

      Plus, whenever I furnish something, I try to make the decorating appeal the largest possible audience. Just my two cents.

  • Simon Carrick

    Hi ,I have rented my Florida home fully furnished, the tenant has now moved without my permission part of the furnishings to storage and has sent me the storage charges and on going charges for the same.
    Can he do this ?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Simon

      Are you saying that your tenant put your furniture in a storage unit and wants you to pay the bill? If so, if he were my tenant, I’d tell him “heck no”, plus I’m charging him for any damaged or missing furniture. If the tenant rented the unit furnished, then he is responsible for the furniture until the end of the lease.

  • darren dickendickenson

    Is their a company that furnishes your home for you before selling, and then takes it back?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Darren,

      There are plenty of nationwide companies that will rent furniture to you, deliver it, set it up, and then take it back. It’s call “Home Staging”, and it’s a huge industry.

      The only company I’ve used is CORT, and they are excellent in some areas, and not so great in others. But they are worth checking out: http://www.cort.com/

  • Claire

    Is there a standard increase in rent for a fully furnished places?

  • lisa

    I’m paying for a furnished apartment and the furniture is going to be over 11 years old and smells like dogs and I’m wondering if it’s my responsibility or the landlord’s responsibility to buy this furniture because it is terrible you can’t even sit on it and I’m paying for it to be furnished

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lisa,

      What does your lease say about the condition of the furniture?

      Though there is no guarantee that new furniture will be provided, it shouldn’t interview with your right to quite enjoyment – albeit, everyone has different comfort levels. I think that if a unit is being furnished, the furniture should be fully functional, relatively clean, and considered average or better condition by most tenants – but that’s just my opinion.

      Did you have an opportunity to see the unit, and it’s furnishings, prior to signing a lease?

  • Marshall Brand

    As a new landlord, how many months should it take to recover the cost to furnish my unit? For a 2-bedroom unit with televisions and washer and dryer I anticipate spending $5000 (+/-). If I get that money back in 18 months I need to charge $280 more per month than if it were unfurnished. Is that fast enough? Too fast? Thanks.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Marshall,

      I wish there was a perfect formula for this, but every situation is different.

      18 months is reasonable, but I sure would prefer it to be paid off in 12 months. The extra income you get in the period after the items are paid off, you make up for time you spent buying and maintaining all those items.

      Generally speaking, I only furnish a unit when I think I’m going to have trouble finding a tenant for an unfurnished unit. I do it out of necessity. You have to be 95% sure that you will be able to sustain it as a furnished unit. Once you go down that road, you exclude all tenants who are looking for an unfurnished unit. You shrink your tenant pool substantially. Inevitably, you’ll get applicants who only want “half” the furniture, and want to you store the rest.

      When you furnish a place, you kind of have to go “all in”. If I were in your shoes, I would do my research and if I thought I could rent it unfurnished, I would go that route. After all, then you have less to deal with – less maintenance on items, and less damage issues. If the bed squeaks, you have to deal with it since it’s your bed. If it’s their bed, you’ll never hear about it.

      Plus, when furnishing a unit, my target price is no more than $1000 per room. I find nice and clean items on craigslist and discounted furniture stores. I never pay full price because your tenants will destroy the furniture within 3-5 years, and you’ll have to replace it.

      Anyway, I hope my thoughts help.

  • klauster

    Hi Lucas,
    As you said, you buy in discount stores because “tenants will destroy the furniture within 3-5 years” etc. I think that is the main part of the problem. When travelling I have seen so many furnished accommodation, looking cheap or dated but with a premium market rents. I do understand that people treat them like that, I would not rent them.

    If you are willing to pay you would expect value for money, why else pay people for 4 or 5 star hotel accommodation?

    As landlord myself, I make sure when people sign a lease everything is as it has to be, and when people leave (apart from wear and tear) they reimburse us for any damage as they would pay for repairs in their own home.

    You said, “I sure would prefer it to be paid off in 12 months”, a furniture package? – if you look at the time frames for depreciation (depreciation rules) you would see where people go wrong.
    Klauster

  • Esmeralda

    Has anyone heard of possible compromises I might suggest if my landlord refuses to replace an old mattress? I’m renting a furnished apartment because I plan to move out of state in the near future and do not want to buy furniture. The bed is not stained, but is low quality (think Ikea’s cheapest mattress) – very soft, with a big dip in the middle. It is wreaking havoc on my back. I would like my landlord to replace it, but am unsure what are realistic expectations.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi there,

      It sounds like the mattress has reached the end of it’s normal life.

      Replacing it would be the best solution, but have you considered trying to flip it over and rotating it? Sometimes that will make a big difference, especially if you add a nice foam mattress topper to it.

    • jeni suttie

      As a Landlord, I would much prefer my tenants to communicate the problem to me or the agency, (e.g. the mattress is of poor quality and needs replacement) rather than start legal action. Legal action should be a last resort not a first port of call in place of communication!! Communication is key to avoid situations like this.

  • Francisco

    Hi,
    I have similar problem with my mattress and sofa. They are too old and now as a consequence of being using them I have serial lower back damage certified by the doctor. I had to stop working since yesterday because I can’t move properly and I already know my agency doesn’t like to do repairs or exchange anything at home. What can I do…even I try to replace them by myself but they told me I wont be able to bring them with me when leaving the house. This is unfair at all and even illegal though. Does anyone similar cases? Would it be posible to start with legal actions??
    Thanks

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi

      Sorry to hear about your back. If you are wondering for if you have a case against them, I suggest talking with a lawyer in your state. I’m sorry but I wouldnt be much help to you.

  • kathleen

    I rented to college student Tenant who removed a lot of my furnishings especially the kitchen and bathroom furnishings. I mean they took everything you would need to cook with and they took the bed frames from the rooms and a shelf whose twin is still at the house. I paid my handyman to put it all in storage. Then when I arrived with my little truck I realize that the vast majority of the items never really needed to leave the house but having a limited amount of energy and time, much of it went to Goodwill and I brought some essential things like the bed frames and the shelf back. Items were destroyed during the move. What is their responsibility? I should have been more closely involved. I have lost lots of money and furnishings.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kathleen

      Im sorry to hear about the situation but I’m not sure what you can about it now. Because you willingly took away the property, I imagine that you took responsibility for it. At that point, I would think that it released them from liability, and any decision you made after that was your own. They didn’t force you to give it to goodwill. If I were in that situation, I would have told my tenants: “I’m sorry you don’t want the furnishings but you rented it as a furnished unit. You need to find a place to store the belongings safely until the end of your lease. They are your responsibility until then and if anything is damaged or broken, you will be held responsible”.

      That’s my opinion, but I’m certainly not a lawyer.

  • kathleen

    Lucas:

    You write with clarity and simplicity. I am glad I found your website.
    Your answer was most helpful.
    Thank you.

  • Bobbi

    Hi, Lucas.
    My cousin is planning to rent out unfurnished bedrooms in a house she inherited. She would not be living in the home. She will be looking for long term tenants.
    Re:The 1st floor/common area – kitchen, dining room and living room.
    1) The kitchen/dining room will be renovated with new appliances plus table and chairs for the eating area. Does she need to supply cookware, glasses, utensils, etc ?
    2) should she furnish the living room?
    Thanks for your blog! Looking forward to reading your ideas.

  • April Cook

    I am thinking of purchasing a rental property in a college town. I think it would be a good idea to partially furnish it since most college kids don’t have their own furniture to move in. Is it normal to have a hire safety deposit for furnished homes since there is more property that can get damaged? Thanks for this great information! http://irentfurnishedhomes.com/furnishedhomes/Welcome_to_Lexington_Kentucky.html

  • Deborah Kohler

    I have sold a vacation rental property that was fully furnished. The end of the tenancy is in a couple of weeks, and I will be moving my furniture, art and personal items out of the home. The tenant is backing out of a written agreement to move. With the new owner’s permission (and replacement furnishings), am I allowed to remove my belongings?

    Thank you for your kind response. I have already moved out of state, and need to furnish my new home.

  • Maqueba

    My parents have lived in my childhood home for years and finally decided to rent it out and get a smaller home when I moved out after college. We decided to furnish before showing the place because renters could picture and imagine what it would be like living here. If they were interested, we were able to give them a higher pricing. The place was beautiful so were able to charge an extra 800 dollars on top of rent. The extra money paid for the furniture and then some.

  • monica

    I recently stayed in a furnished home for 8 months. When I moved in, I asked if the mattresses had mattress protectors. I was told “yes, and they are waterproof”. When I moved out, I was charged for a soiled mattress. I asked to see the mattress protector, and also asked why I was not charged for the mattress protector. I was sent all the blankets and sheets, along with the mattress, but no waterproof mattress protector was included. I was charged for everything. there was no waterproof mattress protector on the charges. I explained tha0t if there was one, I would not be at fault. My question was never addressed. Is there a law that requires housing rental companies to use waterproof matress protectors? I feel like I am being had

  • Missy

    Hi,

    I’m wondering in deciding to offer an apartment furnished for short term rentals how to estimate how many months it will end up unrented vs. renting unfurnished for a year term or longer. I’m not sure how to guesstimate what the net income for the space would be if I get more money for short term, but I have more months in the year without a tenant. I realize this is likely to vary, but is there any “rule of thumb” or average for helping calculate this in considering the advantages of each type of rental?

    Thanks,

    Missy

  • J Staeb ler

    I am a new pastor attempting to calculate what can be considered housing allowance. It needs to include furniture in the fair market rental value. Most of our furniture is antiques, although not of highest quality condition. How do I calculate? Percentage of fair market rental value of the house? Items are not listed on our insurance policy.

  • Jan

    As a landlord -when you furnish an apartment is the landlord responsible for the furniture or is the tenant? Like say a fire- would the tenant have to remiburse the landlord?

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