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Preparing a Property for the Rental Market – The Essentials

by Sarah Halloran

If you’ve just bought an investment property for letting out, the next step is preparing it for let.  Of course, the essential part of these preparations is to ensure that the property is habitable, in presentable condition and above all else safe.  If you’ve done your homework then you will have chosen a property with good links to transport, in a desirable or safe area, and that doesn’t require major renovations.

Whilst major renovations may be required on some buy to let properties we’ll leave those for another article.  Here we’re going to talk about those minor alterations that can really make the difference in a short space of time.

The good news is that it’s easy to makeover a property quickly and on a low budget.  We’re not necessarily talking ’60 Minute Makeover’ here, but you definitely don’t want to be spending weeks on getting your property ready for the rental market.  After all, it’s an investment and whilst it’s empty you’re not making any money so it’s time to grab a paintbrush and get moving.

Before you start, take a step back and review your property.  You should prepare your property as if you were selling it.  Renters are as savvy as house buyers and will inspect every room and every flaw especially if they are looking for a long-term rental.

If possible you should remove wallpaper and return each wall back to a plastered finish.  When it comes to redecorating between tenancies you’ll find it much easier.  Choosing neutral paint colours such as that old faithful ‘magnolia’ is a good move and means you can cover up any blemishes with ease.

Ensure that anything fixed to the wall such as radiators, heaters or kitchen units are fixed to the walls securely and that carpets and flooring are sound.  You might want to replace carpets with wooden floors as they are long-lasting and will repel any stains that occur during tenancies.  Hardwoods are more expensive, but will last for years and can endure a lot of knocks and scrapes.

Arrange for the heating system to be serviced.  Ask your heating engineer when the boiler might need to be replaced.  It’s a good idea to budget or be prepared for future expense and if the boiler is particularly old you might want to replace it now rather than face the cost of future repairs.

Finally, it’s time to consider furnishings.  If you are letting an unfurnished flat you will probably need to provide white goods such as a fridge freezer and washing machine at the very least.  A dishwasher will be a good investment too if you can afford it.  Many tenants expect these items to be in place and to be in working order.

If you are letting out your property in a furnished state then items need to be robust, comfortable, and attractive.  With so many rental properties on the market you should make your property as stylish and as homely as possible so that people want to live there and are happy to pay the rent you are asking.  This doesn’t mean a trip to the West End shopping for high-end furniture.  A trip to Ikea will more than suffice!

As touched on previously you should prepare your property as if you were putting it on the market to sell.  Once your preparations are complete make sure it’s presentable, tidy, and clean and that all appliances and other furnishings are in good condition.  That way you’ll have a property that people want to live in and one that will take you through many tenancies without any major problems.

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