Appliances in Rental Properties
What domestic appliance should I put in a rental property?
Increasingly the expections of renters are for domestic appliances to be supplied, so doing so, is likely to broaden the properties appeal within the rental market. Washing machine, fridge, freezer and oven / hob are typically included. The inclusion of domestic appliances means a rental property is described as ‘part furnished’.
Landlords should budget on about £1000 for a package of basic models, but this figure can obviously increase considerably dependent on the brand and features of the appliance.
The majority of prospective tenants do not own washing machines or cookers, and the thought of having to invest their own money in a washing machine or cooker is both finacially off-putting and uncompatible with their future plans. The thought of lugging a washing machine on to their next rental property is not something many tenants are willing to consider.
In my experience those prospective tenants who already own appliances are able to work around the duplication, and are rarely put off by the issue.
Things landlords should consider when buying appliances
In terms of cooking facilities, landlords have a number of options. What they opt for will depend very much on the type of rental property they have, and the type of tenant they want to attract. I aim for the 20 to 30 something young professional market, which accounts for the highest proportion of the rental market. I typically go for a combination of hob, oven and extractor, as generally I refurbish my properties with new kitchens before starting to let a property. This might seem extravagant to some landlords but I find that providing well appointed accommodation will get your property let quicker and help to avoid expensive rental voids. Buying a combination of appliances also means that you are likely to obtain a discount for purchasing a pack rather than having to buy separate.
The drawback of providing domestic appliances in this way is that if an appliance fails, then it might not be possible to obtain a matching replacement appliance, so some landlords suggest having freestanding units is better, as they are more easily replaced. I personally think that the aesthetic benefits of built in appliances overrides this argument, but really it’s down to a landlord’s personal preferences.
Where landlords are letting out a micro unit in the centre of London for instance, it is likely that the tenants will not be doing a great deal of cooking and what food they do prepare is likely to just be heated through. In this situation where space is at a premium, then a landlord could consider a combination cooker microwave, which are much smaller than a cooker and can either be positioned on a worktop or wall mounted to save space.
Obviously, if a landlord has just purchased a period farmhouse, the addition of an Aga would add considerably to the appeal of the property and hopefully to the landlords rental levels. However, landlords should be aware that running costs and maintenance charges for these pieces of rustic nostalgia are high.
Finally, where a landlord doesn’t already use gas, the fitting of even a single gas appliance will result in the landlord having to obtain a Gas Safety Certificate (GSC) for each year. The price of a Gas Safety Certificate starts at approximately £60 upwards & is a significant annual expense. Therefore, whilst it is generally recognised that gas hobs are superior to electric ones, it would be the case that if it is the only gas appliance in the property the additional costs of obtaining this gas safety certificate would not be justified.
Washing machines are really a must for all professional tenants. Gone are the days that they were prepared to lug all their dirty washing to the nearest laundrette. Fridges and freezers are another essential. Here the main considerations for landlords are size and whether a landlord goes for two separates or a combined unit. I would always recommend landlords to go for the latter. This is because it offers space saving and practical advantages. A single high level fridge freezer only takes up the same floor space as one separate fridge or freezer. In addition the fridge compartment is also at eye level, which is much easier to use than a floor level unit. I would always recommend that you over provide in terms of space. Lanldords should not be stingy with the size of these appliances. It will really start to annoy tenants if there is insufficient space for their food, particularly where they are paying high rents. It probably won’t be enough to force them out, but it could be a factor in them starting to look. For the sake of a few pounds, it really isn’t worth landlords annoying the tenants.
Domestic appliance insurance for landlords
It is possible for landlord to get insurance for their appliances as if they go wrong it can be costly to get them fixed. Generally though it is actually cheaper for landlords to buy new after the costs of labour and replacement parts are taken into account so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Safety regulations on domestic appliances
Landlords should remember that when purchasing appliances their installation will automatically mean that they are subject to the provisions of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Act 1988. This states that a landlord is responsible for having gas pipe work and appliances certified as being in safe working condition. The inspection process has to be carried out at least once a year and by a Gas Safety registered tradesperson.
These inspections shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours and plumbers charge either by appliance or time. Prices have doubled in the last couple of years as plumbers have cottoned on to the opportunities in the ‘buy to let’ market and the shortage of plumbers gets ever more acute. Expect to pay £60 upwards just for a boiler and gas oven to be checked. For your money you will be issued with a gas safety certificate. A copy should also be left for the tenants with one retained by the gas engineer for their records.
In fact the landlord is legally obliged to produce this record to the tenant on the grant of the tenancy and within 28 days of each annual inspection. The record must be kept for a minimum of two years from the date of the check and it must contain the following information.
- The date of the check
- The address of the installation
- The name and address of the landlord or his agent
- A description of the location of each appliance checked
- Any remedial action taken
- Confirmation that the check complies with the rules laid down in the regulations
- Name and signature of the individual who carried out the check and their company’s registration number with the health and safety executive
Landlords who fail to comply with these regulations can be held criminally liable (to say nothing of the insurance policy for the property potentially being invalidated). Just to make you aware of how seriously the courts take the matter. In 1999 a landlord was found guilty of manslaughter following a tragedy caused by non-compliance with the Regulations.
Thankfully, there is as yet no legal requirement to have electrical appliances checked in the same way. However, I would recommend that this is done if there is any doubt on the safety of the device or its wiring.