A landlord’s guide to furnishing a student house

Student season is now back in full swing, so in this guest blog post landlord Andrew Chell, who owns a number of high quality student houses, offers some advice on furnishing student accommodation.

With the number of university students hitting 2.2 million in the UK, it’s no surprise that student housing is now a thriving market. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why student lets are a popular investment for landlords. Student neighbourhoods not only spread the word about their houses, but their population makes finding new tenants a breeze year after year – offering long term stability of financial income. With regular loan payments at the start of the new term (and a little help from mum and dad), rent payments are seldom an issue.

At face value, some students take their living space for granted which can make room for damages and nasty stains around the house. This can rack up a bill when it comes to fixing up your property before another set of student tenants move in.

Our comprehensive guide details ways to minimise all these risks and keep your property in tip top shape. We’ll be talking you through the furnishings, fittings and equipment (FF&E) required for a habitual student house. Follow our simple advice and put your worries associated with students to rest and look forward to your property investment.

Here is the landlords guide to buying furniture that lasts:

1. Furnishing student bedrooms

There are plenty of ways to reduce wear and tear in student bedrooms.

Beds should be sturdy and of a reasonable quality. You can pretty much expect to change tenants every year, so don’t buy a cheap bed that will collapse after one tenant. It’s also worth mentioning that students nowadays often expect double beds. If possible, at the very least you should invest in a three quarter bed rather than a single.

Give your tenants a free mattress protector to prolong its life. The small upfront cost is well worth not having to replace your mattress a year down the line.

In terms of decor, basic is best. Carpets are good for bedrooms, as they help to keep the room warm and lower energy costs. But as glamorous as that white shagpile carpet is, you might feel differently when it’s covered in spilled booze, half-eaten pizza and other unidentified stains. Opt instead for a short, dense pile in a neutral colour. Black, brown and beige are great, as they can also reduce the appearance of stains.

Cleaning can be a problem with carpets. Remember that polyester carpets are generally more stain resistant than nylon. The downside is they’re they can be less resilient, so might need replacing after four or five years.  If you’re worried about carpets, laminate flooring is another option and it’s generally easier to clean. Another easy win is to supply all bedrooms with a shoe rack, so that muddy trainers and boots don’t wreck your carpets.

Bluetack and hooks are the bane of any landlord’s existence, as they can leave ugly holes and stains on a freshly painted wall. But it’s inevitable that students will want to decorate their rooms with posters and other pictures. So make it easier for them by supplying picture hooks and corkboards. This lets them make their new room lovely and homely, without causing fresh damage to the wall. These hooks can be used by successive tenants, so you won’t be forced to repair walls after every single tenancy.

2. Furnishing living rooms

The centrepiece also known as the sofaalways buy fabric sofas with removable covers that can be washed, or leather sofas that can be wiped down easily. Then, choose a sensible colour. White is an absolute no, as the last thing you want is to find your sofa covered in coffee and red wine stains at the end of the year. If in doubt, black is always a safe option. Avoid light coloured upholstery for the same reason.

Laminate flooring is the best option for communal areas, which are going to see the most footfall. Messy pre-drinks and muddy shoes can quickly ruin a carpet but laminate flooring can survive most spills and stains, and it’s easily cleanable.

Most student houses don’t contain a dining room – consider installing a small dining table that can seat at least 4 students to add a homey touch to the living space.

3. Furnishing bathrooms

In bathrooms, damp is your biggest enemy. It’s gross, ugly and bad for your tenants’ health. Don’t just assume your tenants will open the bathroom window when they shower.  Install a quality extractor fan in your bathroom to remove moisture and stop mould in its tracks.

As with kitchens, tiles are a good option for bathroom walls and floors. They’re water resistant, making it harder for mould and damp to take root. If this isn’t possible, anti-mould paint can be used in high risk areas to tackle the hazard.

4. Furnishing kitchens

Many kitchens will have similar fittings, as certain white goods (washing machine, fridge-freezer) come as standard in the majority of rented accommodation. However, there are some small alterations you can make to a standard kitchen setup to make it better for students.

Firstly, consider supplying some basic kitchen equipment. Chopping boards are a good choice, as they stop your tenants hacking into your worktop, and causing nasty scuffs and scratches. If you’re worried about supplied equipment going missing, just make sure it’s listed in the inventory.

Tiles or lino are both reliable options for kitchen floors. Tiles are normally the better of the two, as they’re durable, easy to clean and water resistant. Similarly, add a tiled wall behind the hob, to prevent splashback and keep your walls free of dirt and grime.

To summarise:

The Basics

For all furniture and fittings, you’re looking for three important qualities:

  1. Durable : you want fittings to survive wear and tear, and last multiple tenancies.
  2. Easy to clean: spills and stains can be cleaned away without hassle. Think treated wood or plastic.
  3. Cheap to replace: make sure you can afford to replace any furniture if disaster strikes.

The exact purchases will depend on the rooms in the house, but everything you buy should meet these criteria.

General Tips and Tricks

  • Avoid indoor plants, as the moist soil can stimulate mould’s growth. If you’re after a bit of greenery – invest in artificial plants for touch of colour.
  • Consider providing cleaning equipment and supplies, to make looking after the house easier for your tenants. Buying a hoover isn’t usually top of the list in a student’s mind.
  • Invest in PAT tested equipment for reliability and safety of use.
  • Remember that all furniture and furnishings need to comply with fire safety regulations – be careful when buying second-hand.
  • Consider silk-finish paint instead of matte. It’s much easier to wipe clean between tenants.

 About the Author

Andrew Chell is an Accredited Landlord who owns a number of high quality student houses in Loughborough. His website is www.andrewchell.com.

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