Landlords Move In Furniture to Help Rent Properties

By Phoebe Chongchua

February 12, 2010

These days some landlords are finding a house without furnishings has less appeal in the marketplace. So, landlords are supplying furniture.

The market for furnished rentals is on the rise despite business travel being down, the folks at CorporateHousingbyOwner.com tell me. It seems struggles to get unfurnished homes rented are being eased by comfortable furnishings. "When we were looking to purchase a home we saw the potential of the basement," says landlord, Colleen Cameron. They bought a home several years ago, converted the basement and added a kitchen, turning it into a separate housing unit. Then they tried to rent it. The furnished rental was snatched up quickly.

"We found a renter within the week," says Cameron.

"We had a lot of furniture that both my husband and I had doubles of from when we were single. So rather than sell that furniture, we used furniture that we already had to furnish the unit," says Cameron.

It was a win-win situation. The couple didn’t want to sell their furniture or have to pay to store it; the furnished unit differentiated the rental from most.

"If the furnishings are done in good taste and are gender-neutral, I think that when someone walks in they already feel like it’s a home versus just an empty shell. And, especially, it’s attractive for the right type of renter who is looking for a furnished property," says Cameron.

However, their furnished rental serves another purpose. "We have showed our furnished properties to renters who have their own furniture and I think it just helps sell the space because … it’s staged," says Cameron.

Cameron has found such success with the furnished rental that the couple doesn’t rent it unfurnished, although, they will make some minor exceptions. "We were able to move a couple of the items out. The issue is the cost to us to store the furniture. If we have no place to put it then it increases our cost," says Cameron.

She adds, "There are plenty of renters who are looking for furnished units; we’re fine with walking away because [unfurnished rentals] are not really our niche." Most of us think that furnished rentals would likely be very short-term leases. "We have been a landlord for five years. Our longest renter was two years," says Cameron.

She also points out that whether renters have their own furniture or not, they are transitional; for instance they’re waiting to buy a house or they don’t know where they’ll be located next because of a job change or an upcoming marriage.

Cameron believes her furnished-rental market position narrows the competition. "I think the majority of the inventory out there is unfurnished and I don’t want to compete against that," says Cameron. She believes that "we have a tighter niche and there’s less availability for furnished units and that’s why we’re able to get renters at the price we want."

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