There was a time when a trouser press is what every dynamic young professional wanted in his or her rented apartment. It showed they were going places. They may be too busy to iron their trousers, but those trousers were still going to be crisp and creasefree.
When was that time? 2006. Because it was only ten years ago that a trouser press (and a fax machine) were obligatory in the flats we rented out. We take a look at how times change and the benefits of a revamp.
A dated offering can make prospective tenants suspicious. Ten years ago our apartments also had HiFis and telephone lines. If one of our flats had those now, people would wonder why. Is there no WiFi? Are the broadband speeds really low here? It’s important to be aware of your tenant’s expectations and not to confuse them. A 20-something just out of university may not even recognise a fax machine.
So once you’ve focused on the essentials and got rid of the rest, what are the rules when it comes to property refurbishment? That depends on the building. Generally we’d suggest continual repairs and paint touch ups, but ideally wait between five to seven years for a full refresh. However, this very much depends on who’s living in the flat. We have some in Clapham where the tenants are straight from university and this is their first flat. The wear and tear is much harder on these and we have to go into them quite regularly.
However, the £2 million Chelsea flat rented by a director of a digital marketing company who is rarely there, and is so meticulous when he is, the flat remains perfect, needs less.
Empty properties cost money
The problem with doing a complete property refurbishment is that the building needs to be empty, which means no rent. Ideally the workers can get on to the project as soon as possible, but there’s always a delay, so the flat is empty for longer, plus you have the costs of the work. Once the work has been done you have the lag between showing it to tenants and it actually being rented out. All this can take months, which is time when there is no income, while costs such as the mortgage, are ongoing.
It’s a fine balance because the losses during the empty period may be more than the increased rental income. It’s true that rent goes down as a flat becomes tired and dated, but this reduction is often not enough to warrant the costs involved in a full refresh.
The best advice is to keep the flat as clean and fresh-looking for as long as possible by doing small repairs little and often, even when the tenants are there.
Our tips for looking refreshed:
- Make the flat look as clean as possible. Especially kitchens and bathrooms. This doesn’t need a total revamp, instead redo the grout and sealant, removing any marks or mould.
- Remove clutter – it can date a property and make it feel like it belongs to someone else. Get rid of it to freshen up the space and help people start to imagine themselves living there.
- Fresh paint and some lovely furniture is cheaper than a total revamp and may be all that’s necessary.