Our monthly ‘Advice Clinic’ series shares the answers to questions our landlords have been asking. This month, Anita Mehra, Managing Director, looks at allowing your tenant to redecorate.
A landlord may be the owner of their rental property, but for the tenant, it is their home. So it is natural that sometimes they may wish to redecorate the property according to their own style. Perhaps they are bored with the classic neutral colours that most landlords choose to help broaden their rental property’s appeal to applicants. Instead they might prefer a more vibrant colour palette that expresses their own personality. But is it a good idea? There are questions the landlord should ask before they give the tenant the go-ahead.
Most importantly, the landlord should find out exactly what type of redecoration the tenant wishes to carry out. If all they want to do is to decorate the property in their own choice of colours, we would usually recommend they agree as this will keep the tenant happy and may encourage them to stay longer in the property. However, it should be pre-agreed that a professional decorator will return the property to its original condition at the end of the tenancy. A lick of paint carried out by the tenant will not be sufficient. The quality of workmanship should be to a high-standard, ready for another tenant to occupy the property. If the tenant is looking to undertake more elaborate redecoration work, the landlord should tread carefully as it could become costly and an unnecessary expense, especially if there is no guarantee that the tenant will be staying many years in the property.
This leads us on to furnishings. Of course, we always recommend that apartments are attractively furnished. Some tenants, particularly those with families who are planning to stay relatively long-term, will probably want to bring their own belongings with them. If the property is furnished but they wish to bring some items of their own, for example their own Smeg fridge, thought should be given to where the current items will be kept during the tenancy. Most tenants, however, will prefer an apartment where everything is provided for them – and they will expect contemporary, co-ordinated, high-quality furnishings.
A typical furnished property such as a one bedroom apartment would include a sofa, easy chair, coffee table, side table and lamps, together with a dining table and chairs. In the bedroom there should be a bed, bedside tables and lamps. White goods and other kitchen appliances such as a toaster and kettle, as well as crockery, bed linen and bathroom accessories should also be provided.
Clearly, these items will need replacing from time to time. Sometimes an item will get broken and need replacing. But sometimes furnishings just start to look a little shabby and old-fashioned and could do with updating. And when it comes to new furnishings, there are now tax advantages for landlords replacing existing items of furniture.
This new Relief replaces the previous Wear and Tear Allowance and this could be an advantage for landlords considering replacing furnishings in their rental property. Landlords can now deduct the actual cost of replacing furnishings from their rental income before tax – items such as sofas, beds, tables, chairs, televisions, fridges, freezers, carpets, floor coverings, curtains, linen and crockery. Previously they could only claim a flat rate of 10% of the rent received, irrespective of the cost of any items replaced. The new relief doesn’t cover the cost of furnishing the property initially and it doesn’t cover the cost of improving the item – just replacing it.
Keeping a rental property well-maintained and well-decorated is essential to encourage a tenant to stay there long-term. This minimises expensive void periods so is a good business decision for any landlord. And if the tenant is moving on, we always suggest landlords review their rental property a few weeks before the current tenant moves out so that they can plan any maintenance or decoration and find a contractor to carry out any necessary work at a time that suits them.
We have many years’ experience of refurbishing properties and providing furnishing packages to landlords and if you would like advice about your rental property, call us on 020 7435 9681 for further details.
View all posts by Anita Mehra