How should I furnish my property for renting out?

Solicitor Tessa Shepperson answers questions about using furniture in rented properties.

I am about to furnish my property for renting out but I am on a tight budget so can I use second hand furnishings?

You  need to be very careful about this, as furniture in rented properties must comply with the furniture regulations.  In essence this means that all furniture must be fire retardant and have the proper labels.  There is an exception for furniture made before 1950.  However your property is a big investment and you do not want to see it go up in smoke!  I would suggest you get new furniture which you can be sure is properly fire retardant.  There are companies which specialise in selling modestly priced packs for furniture specifically for landlords.  You will see them advertised on web-sites such as the weblinks section of my site www.landlordlaw.cok.uk, and on www.landlordzone.co.uk.  You can get further advice on your legal obligations as regards furniture from Trading Standards, who also have very helpful leaflets.

We have rented a property on a furnished basis, but although there is some furniture there, much of the furniture we saw when we viewed belonged to the former tenants, and they have taken it with them.  What can we do?

When  you rent property it is up to you to ask the right questions.  Once you have signed the tenancy agreement you are stuck with it.  It is up to you to check first with the landlord exactly what furniture will remain in the property after the existing tenants leave.  There is no statutory definition (that I am aware of) as to what exactly comprises ‘furnished accommodation’ in this context.  However if you are missing something important, have a word with your landlord and see if he can provide it.

My tenant has moved  some of my furniture to different rooms in the property, contrary to the terms of the tenancy agreement.  What can I do about this?

Nothing.  You cannot stop the tenant from moving the furniture, and if you try this will be in breach of his ‘covenant of quiet enjoyment’ – a clause implied into all tenancies which means that you must allow him to live in the property without disturbance.  Any tenancy agreement clause saying otherwise will almost certainly  be void under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.  All you can ask for is that the furniture is returned to its original room when the tenant leaves, so it can be checked against the inventory at the checkout meeting.

Tessa Shepperson is a solicitor, and author, and editor of the Landlord-Law web-site at www.landlordlaw.co.uk.

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