As a new landlord, there are a few home truths that you need to hear. At some point in your career, you’re going to have bad tenants. The kind of tenants that don’t care one tiny bit about your property. They won’t bother keeping the place clean and taking care of all of the painstaking decoration that you’ve done before they moved in. Bad tenants often get themselves into trouble so they end up moving around a lot. They’ll be well practiced in leaving a house in an absolute state and disappearing without a trace. If you put a lot of hard work into making the place look nice, it’ll all be for nothing. You’ve also got to accept the fact that sometimes, these tenants won’t pay you the rent they owe you before running off so you could find yourself with a house that needs decorating and no money do it with.
Obviously, you’re going to want to create a nice home that will attract tenants, but if you decorate and furnish it in the same way that you would your own home, you’ll find yourself in trouble. A buy-to-let property needs to renovated with practicality in mind. That way, you can avoid having to completely refurbish the property every time a tenant moves out, you can make do with a few touch ups.
When you’re picking out furniture for the house, it might be tempting to get things that you think would look nice in your own home, but that shouldn’t be your priority right now. Not all of your tenants are going to have the same taste as you so what you think might be good, could actually be putting people off. It also won’t last as long as something a bit plainer.
When you’re picking out a bedroom set, choose a solid metal bed that will go the distance. In terms of the rest of the furniture, go for modern sideboards and buffets. They’ll have a much simpler style that is compatible for everybody’s tastes, and they’ll be less likely to break.
In the lounge, don’t for fabric sofas and armchairs. Over the years, lots of spills will leave them stained and grotty looking. Don’t expect the tenant to pay for it either. If you go for leather sofas instead, they’ll be wipe clean so you can keep them looking newer for longer.
No Light Paints
I can’t tell you how many rental properties I’ve looked around that are painted magnolia throughout. It’s a sensible choice in one sense because it’s a fairly neutral color that won’t put potential tenants off. However, you run into problems because every tiny mark shows up. If you have tenants with children, the walls will be covered in smudge marks within minutes and after a couple of weeks, all of the walls will be a dull color. It’s far better to choose a darker shade of paint that will hide any marks a lot more effectively. Grays and lighter shades of brown work well because they are still fairly neutral but they don’t get dirty as easily.
Be Careful With Carpets
Carpets are prone to mess, and if they get ruined completely, it’ll cost you a lot of money to tear them up and replace them. And you’ll have to do the whole house if you still want it looking consistent. That doesn’t mean you should steer clear of carpets entirely, just be careful where you put them. In the bedrooms are usually fine, although if you’re renting a family home, perhaps just stick to the master bedroom that the parents will be sleeping in. You certainly shouldn’t be using carpets downstairs, or anywhere that will be near food. Even in the safer areas, don’t go for light colored carpets. The same rules apply as the paint. Go for something a bit darker that can withstand the occasional spill.
Get Good Quality Flooring
When you aren’t going for carpets, it might be tempting to put in some cheap plastic flooring. It will cut costs in the short-term, but it will come back to bite you if you cut corners now. Cheap flooring will easily tear and you’ll find it full of holes when your tenants move out. That means replacing it every time. If you put a bit of extra money into it and get better quality flooring to start with, it will last a lot longer and save you money in the long run.
Laminate flooring is a bit of a nightmare as well. If you clean it properly, without getting it too wet, it’ll be fine. Unfortunately, your tenants are not going to do that. They’ll probably clean it with a wet mop which makes it expand and ruins it. Unless you want to replace it regularly, go for some good quality tiling instead, and use wooden floors for the lounge areas.
Don’t Cut Corners In The Bathroom
Bathroom fittings vary massively in price. Naturally, you’ll be drawn towards the low end of the price scale but don’t be. Cheap bathroom fittings are incredibly flimsy and they’ll break in no time. You’ll be getting phone calls from the tenants to replace the taps and shower heads all of the time. That’s going to waste a lot of time and money. There’s no need to buy the most expensive ones but get a good mid range.
Mould is a death sentence for landlords. Any hint of it will make it almost impossible to let the property. You can just scrub it off and paint over it but that’s not a long term solution. It’ll come back in a matter of months and then you’ll have tenants calling you up to sort it out. If it’s an issue, buy anti-mold paints. They’re more expensive but it’ll save you a lot of hassle. If it’s a recurring problem, you’ll need to call somebody in to fix it for good.
As a general rule, when you’re decorating a property to let, spend money where you need to and don’t let your own personal taste affect your decisions.