Furnished vs. Unfurnished Apartment - Things to Consider

Living Room Interior Design

No falling into arrears, no high vacancy rates, or costly turnovers – just a healthy bottom line and you being able to put your feet up. No wonder landlords are prepared to go to such great lengths to attract a quality renter pool to their property's doorstep. But, as they're well aware, dream tenants don't happen to come by accident. Instead, they come to them by design. And the best way to appeal to this specific target market is to have a high-quality rental property. That's the point when the dilemma of a furnished vs. unfurnished apartment strikes.

Deciding Between Two Options


To furnish or not to furnish? On the one hand, a blank canvas allows your tenants to introduce their own belongings to the space and make it their own. On the other hand, the move-in ready condition tends to have a much broader appeal. But there are other things you'll need to consider before you decide between letting your rental property furnished or unfurnished. Sit tight as we dive into the pros and cons of each.

Spotting the difference: Furnished vs. unfurnished apartment

When it comes to deciding whether to rent a furnished vs. unfurnished apartment, it is only fair to note that expectations play a vital role. Although things might seem pretty straightforward on the surface, neither has a rough outline of requirements.


Unfurnished rental apartments

This is largely where people are mistaken – unfurnished doesn't mean bare bones. Instead, unfurnished units mean just that – no furnishings. Tenants can expect to rent an apartment that includes minimum requirements such as kitchen fixtures, white goods (fridge, freezer, cooker, oven, washing machine), bathroom fixtures, bed/s, carpets, or other types of flooring, and curtains or blinds. As you may notice, this isn't exactly furnished – but it's still a far cry from empty. Suppose that a landlord includes these, plus a dining table or a freestanding wardrobe; such units can no longer be classed as unfurnished. Instead, they're considered semi-furnished.

Woman Sitting Between Two Stacks of Moving Boxes


Furnished rental apartments

Similarly, one renter's idea of what constitutes a fully furnished unit may differ from another's. Also, one owner might include more than the next. However, a good rule of thumb is to supply everything one would need to live comfortably in each respective room of the apartment. In essence, it's a turnkey unit where renters could walk in with their bags and feel ready to live there. Here's what a most basic list of inclusions would look like:

  • Everything unfurnished rentals generally include (see list above)

  • Sofas and/or armchairs

  • Coffee table

  • End tables

  • Storage shelving

  • Bedframe and mattress

  • Nightstand

  • Window treatments

  • Lamps

  • Dresser storage

  • Chest of drawers

  • Dining room table and chairs

  • All appliances

  • Dishes, utensils, glassware, pots, and pans

  • A shower curtain, wastebasket, and floor mat in the bathroom

  • Finally, items such as toiletries, hand soap, and dish soap may be supplied upfront as well. However, those are typically the tenant’s responsibility going forward.


Furnished expectations: Short-term vs. long-term rentals

The short-term and vacation property rental sector is blowing up. As a hugely popular alternative to hotels, it is primarily vacationers and young professionals who seek to rent these properties by the week or night. And, when receiving guests in short bursts such as these, landlords are required to supply everything a tenant needs to move in. Yes, furniture included. In fact, the ideal scenario consists of a tenant walking in, dropping their suitcase, and living comfortably.

On a different note, a long-term rental is typically a dwelling where tenants prefer to bring in their personal style to make the space feel more like home. And, since long-term guests (though not all) usually come with their own furniture in tow, there may be no need to furnish - or at least not in full.

A Room With Nothing But A Chair, A Potted Plant, and A Ladder



Given that your tenants will have accumulated their own furniture over time, the moving process becomes a lot more involved, time-consuming, and costly for them. This, in turn, increases your chances of having them stay longer in your rental. Plus, whether you decide to hire a property manager or manage your apartment rental yourself, long-term rentals call for a lot less time than short-term ones. You won't have to worry about wear and tear and frequent rental turnover as much to make sure it is ready to rent. Keep in mind, however, if your rental pool includes areas highly populated with military, industrial contractors, or students, a fully furnished rental can turn out to be desirable.

Price difference

Yes, tenancies may be potentially longer in unfurnished apartments. But they also cost less to rent than furnished - between 5 and 30% less, to be more precise. And, vice versa, landlords often charge higher rates for the added convenience of a turnkey unit. What's more, renters consider the higher price worth it since it saves them from having to buy new furniture. Besides, this option is more common in short-term units. Therefore, the shorter leases play a key part in driving up the price, thus helping the owner offset any costs of increased vacancies, as well as furnishings.


Gross profitability and taxation

Increased rent rate doesn't mean better gross profitability. However, research shows gross profitability of an empty rental is somewhere between 4.7% and 6.6%, whereas that of a furnished rental can reach 8% or higher. The gross profitability of a rental investment is calculated as follows: rate of gross profitability = 100 x (monthly rent x 12) divided by the property's purchase price (including expenses relative to this acquisition). The tax regime also differs between the two options. So, before you reach your final decision, make sure to find out what tax exemptions you're eligible for.

Furniture life-span

If you decide to furnish your rental, it will be up to you to pay for the furniture you add. Of course, you can opt to shop for low-cost or budget items. However, the amount will add up pretty soon as those tend to wear out more easily. Or, you can shell out for premium furniture right from the start and save on its durability. No matter which road you choose to take, this can be quite expensive – especially if you've got a problem tenant on your hands. If items are broken or damaged, the responsibility lies with you to keep the apartment looking attractive instead of shabby.

However, provided that the risk of damage increases when a rental unit includes furnishings, owners can charge higher security deposits. This will cover potential tenant damage above the usual wear and tear. And not only that but, hopefully, also incentivize the tenants to take better care of the apartment.

On the other hand, with none of your own furniture in the apartment, keeping track of furniture that might need updating or replacing before the move-in date of your next lot of tenants will be none of your worries. And if anything gets damaged or broken, the responsibility lies with the tenant. Whatever the case, consider helping your new tenant out when the time comes to transfer their furniture to their new home by simply connecting them to a reputable local moving company. This is especially important if your new tenant is moving long-distance. Hiring experienced furniture movers is the easiest way to transfer it and make sure it arrives undamaged. So, if your tenant is not from around there, they will very much appreciate you recommending someone. Moreover, it'll help you start the relationship with your tenant on the right foot.

Moving Professionals Carrying a Sofa




When deciding between furnished vs. unfurnished units, it's a good idea to think about taking out insurance. Although not a legal requirement, insurance sure helps to provide some peace of mind. Let's say you decide to furnish, and items get broken; then, footing the bill for replacements and repairs could drain your maintenance funds. Landlord Insurance may cover the cost. On a different note, your tenants may be interested in covering themselves against accidental damage with Tenants Liability Insurance. However, you cannot insist upon this or rely on it entirely, as you still may end up footing the bills or become involved in a rental deposit dispute which you may or may not win. Either way, it might cost you extra.

The tiebreaker

Of course, one option's con is the other's pro and vice versa. So, right now, things may seem like a toss-up that can go either way. One way you can decide between a furnished vs. unfurnished apartment is to consider your tenants. They're the biggest differentiating factor between the two options. For starters, what the renter pool in your area needs and wants out of a rental is where you'll find the right answer to this question. Ultimately, it is the ROI that landlords care about the most. And your property won't be a high-return investment if left unoccupied. Thus, your best bet is consulting with an experienced local property manager. Their insight into the market demand, current availability, and how much to charge may prove valuable to you and may help you decide which option is more profitable for you. Good luck!






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