July 2023

Furnished lettings: could you boost the income of your rental property by 21%?

To furnish or not to furnish? That hasn’t been the question for as long as we can remember - it’s been unfurnished all the way.

Nonetheless, the subject comes up in conversation every now and then, and a recent Zoopla article weighed up the pros and cons of furnished vs unfurnished homes, albeit from a tenant’s perspective.

So we thought it was worth exploring from a landlord’s point of view, particularly if it opens up a new angle and extra income for your buy-to-let business.

Over the last few years, surveys have found that:

Does that mean a quarter of tenants will pay handsomely for a furnished home? And if so, which quarter? And isn’t supplying furniture just an expensive hassle for landlords?

There are plenty of questions, so if you own a rental property in the Wilton & Salisbury area and you’re wondering whether it’s right for a furnished letting, this week’s blog should provide some answers.


Student lets and Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) have long been furnished as standard, but the rest of the private rental sector hasn’t followed suit.

However, we know from the sales market that stylish homes get higher prices, and that busy people will pay a premium for convenience. So here’s what we think the market might look like.

  • High-earning professional singles, couples and sharers are drawn to design-led homes in popular residential streets and high-quality new developments.
  • Established families usually accumulate furniture from years of growing a household, so they’re probably not a target audience.
  • People saving up to buy a home could be happy to avoid the upfront costs of buying furniture that may not fit where they end up.
  • Tenants who know they’ll only be living somewhere for a year or so through work or other plans generallyprefer a furnished rental.

While not every tenant or home suits a furnished letting, plenty do, so check with local letting agents about the requests they receive from tenants to see if there’s a demand worth meeting.


Although there’s no legal definition for what constitutes a furnished letting, tenants will expect at least a sofa, a dining table & chairs, and a bed and wardrobe in each bedroom.

However, there are regulations about the furniture you provide and what you can claim back in your tax return, including:

  • Any upholstered furniture you supply must comply with British fire regulations and have labels attached that prove they meet the standard (don’t cut them off!)
  • The upholstery category covers any items with fabric, including sofas, armchairs, dining chairs, beds, blinds and curtains.
  • The rules only apply to furnishings made after 1970, so if you’re a lover of Danish leather couches from the 60s and mid-century modern interiors, go for it!
  • You can’t claim back the initial costs of buying furniture against your tax, but repairs and replacements are both allowable expenses.
  • List all the furnishings and their condition in your inventory so you have a clear record to refer back to in case of a dispute.
  • Include detailed care instructions in the tenancy agreement to make it easy for your tenants to look after things correctly and to set out their obligations and your expectations.

Our experience is that better quality homes get well looked after by their tenants, and there’s no reason to think otherwise for a furnished rental property aimed at the upper end of the market.


Living rooms and dining rooms are used by everyone in a home, along with their visiting friends, so the furniture needs to bestylish and durable while allowing your tenants to accessorise to their own taste.

  • Instead of the typical landlord sofas of old (heavy, dark brown and bulky), choose a classic design in a warm, neutral shade with resilient and easy-to-clean fabric (so not velvet - sorry!)
  • Go for a square, rectangle or circular dining table with corner legs and a natural wood or glass top, paired with chairs like the ANYDAY series from John Lewis for easy cleaning.
  • Always buy furniture appropriate to the size of space available: avoid mini versions that are cramped to sit on, and steer clear of oversized pieces that turn rooms into obstacle courses.

When it comes to the sort of home that high-earning tenants would pay extra rent for, one with shared spaces where people love to hang out alone, with housemates, or with friends sounds good to us.


Everyone loves and needs a good night’s sleep, so invest in the correct furnishings that leave your tenants feeling well rested every morning in a room that can store all their belongings with ease.

  • Pair a high-quality mattress and protector (you’ll be forever replacing cheap ones) with a sturdy bed on legs so your tenants can add drawers or boxes below if they need extra storage.
  • You can’t beat floor-to-ceiling built-in wardrobes for their optimal capacity, particularly with sliding mirrored doors to save floor space and add extra depth.
  • Freestanding wardrobes should be 60cm deep to hang clothes properly on full-size hangers, while drawers should be deep and easy to slide open and close.

We’ve all seen - and maybe even had - an unpleasant and hopelessly impractical bedroom. Nobody will pay extra for one of those, so focus on comfort for a premium experience and rent.


You might sometimes get away with not supplying curtains or blinds in an unfurnished letting, but you’ll definitely need to include them in a furnished one, so here are some best-practice guidelines.

  • Good quality Venetian blinds in white or natural timber look great in living rooms, dining rooms, and studies in modern and traditional homes, and will match any tenant’s taste.
  • Blackout blinds are an excellent option for bedrooms as they give tenants the option of total darkness or allowing in some light depending on how they like to sleep.
  • We’d usually advise against having window treatments in wet or humid areas like kitchens or bathrooms - if privacy is an issue, consider replacing any clear glass with obscured panes.

Remember that health and safety is a landlord’s responsibility,  so include hooks or cleats to wrap the cords for curtains or blinds so they’re out of reach from very young children who can become tangled up.

What’s your next step?

Choosing whether a rental property in the Wilton & Salisbury area is more suitable as a furnished or unfurnished letting isn’t always a straightforward decision, and we’re here to help you make the right choice.

Call us on 01722 580059 or email us a info@piccoloproperty.co.uk for a friendly and expert chat about the best way to attract the best tenants and maximise the income and profit of your buy-to-let.

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