preparing a property for rental

  • The first task when attempting to update or refurbish a property for rental is to find a reliable and reputable builder. Personal recommendation is always the best way to find a builder although if there is a builder in the family then that is another way to go. Consulting other landlords can also yield a reliable catalogue of usable builders.
  • Failing that then you can do your own research by maybe using a website such as to assess a builder’s quality by their online reviews.
  • Whatever way you find a builder you must make sure that they belong to an appropriate trade body to ensure they work to an approved standard and that they have relevant trade insurance. You may also speak to some previous clients to see if there are any hidden problems with their work.
  • If the task warrants it then you should also get three individual quotes which detail exactly what work will be undertaken, the cost of the materials (and quality/type) used and the labour costs. A start date should also be provided

    Building Regulations

  • These exist to ensure that when erecting a new building, altering or extending an existing one or providing services (water/electrical work etc.) in a building all relevant safety standards are adhered to.
  • It is the tradespersons responsibility to get approval from the local authorities building regulations department. Whilst the trader will face a fine for not seeking approval it will be the owner who would foot the expense of rectifying unapproved works. Obviously if doing the work, yourself it will be your responsibility to adhere to the necessary regulations.
  • You may also need planning permission from the local authority if the changes (extension, new construction or change of use) fall outside of “permitted development”.
  • The Government has a planning portal ( which gives examples of common projects that require building regulations approval as well as providing details of the criteria for permitted development and if planning permission is required for a particular project.

    Specification of the project

  • There are two common errors that rental owners make when undertaking a new project. The first is to over specify the quality of the project. For a rental property items specified should be of the strong and sturdy type rather than luxurious as no one is going pay extra for a “posh” bathroom tap. You will not get back the extra money spent on luxury items. There is also the added stress when expensive items get damaged which they certainly will in a rental property.
  • The other error is to impose your own taste on the property. You should always decorate in a style that is attractive to everyone and not just yourself i.e. neutral colours, white walls and beige carpets.
  • It’s always worth looking at other properties to get an idea of the quality and style of fittings used by other landlords in their properties before commencing work on a project.
  • Everyone has their own view on what is the ideal specification for a rental property. The following breaks down some good examples by area of the property.


    An electric shower is always a good choice as even if the boiler isn’t working there is always a hot shower available. If possible a shower over a bath is good as separate shower cubicles are often leaky and add maintenance time and costs. Having an extra bathroom or a separate toilet is a good idea so if one toilet malfunctions there is always another as a backup. When starting the refurbishment it’s always worth replacing anything that looks old, worn out, leaks or makes a noise it shouldn’t. It’s much easier to do this at the start in one go than wait for things to break and try and repair items with the tenant in place.


  • A good kitchen and bathroom can help sell a house and the same is true when trying to impress renters. But don’t go over the top with expensive work tops and such like unless the area you are in warrants it. Try and avoid integrated appliances as they cost more to replace and repair in the long term. If you are just updating an older kitchen then sometimes you can just get away with replacing the cupboard doors which will improve the look of the kitchen for not a lot of expense.


  • Tenant will not look after flooring to the extent that you will wish so don’t spend an excessive amount on laminate or carpet. A quality laminate will be hard wearing but does collect scratches quiet easily. The main problem with laminate is that it can warp easily if it gets wet so if tenants are going to constantly wash the floor, then you could be in for a problem in the long term.
  • Dark carpets show less dirt but may not be so attractive to the eye so most people go for a halfway house of beige or coffee. Thicker undelay can add quality to cheaper carpet. Tiling of kitchen and bathroom floors is always favourable as tiles can be washed easily and are hard wearing. Laminates can be used also but don’t go for to lower a quality as moisture can effect it and use a thicker one in the kitchen to avoid tenants damaging it when dragging appliances across it.


  • As long as the plaster is of good quality then painting of walls is always the best option. You can sometimes paint over wallpaper if you don’t require the decoration to be perfect for your market, but a good plastering job is always preferable for long term use. In regard to colour then white or light grey is a good idea as it can easily be touched up and will not put off potential renters. Sometimes a highlight wall of a stronger colour can be used to brighten up a room. If you have a number of properties, then use the same colour schemes in them all to save money. Remember to use water resistant paint in kitchens and bathrooms to avoid moisture/condensation damage.


  • If updating electrics make sure that there are sufficient sockets in each room to avoid tenants running extension leads all round the house as this may compromise safety. It may also be an idea to add USB sockets around the house if doing the electrics from scratch.


  • If doing new electrical work then hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a must to avoid the need to keep replacing batteries. A heat detector for the kitchen is also a good idea to avoid cooking fumes setting off the detectors. Ensure handrails are fitted to any stairs to avoid problems with insurers if someone falls on the stairs as well as ensuring tenant’s safety.


  • A good garden may look nice but most tenants won’t bother to take care of it and it can be more trouble than it’s worth. It’s probably best just to pave it over or turn it into off street parking if needed as this can be a plus point for a lot of renters.

    Overseeing the project

  • If you have the skills then you may choose to manage the project yourself and hire in whichever trades people are needed. One main contractor could do the job for you if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself.
  • If you do the job yourself then you should be aware that you need a lot of knowledge, time and good organisational skills to achieve the desired results.
  • If someone is doing the job for you then you should still realise that you are providing the money and ultimately in charge. You must still oversee the works being done to ensure that the builders are doing what they should be doing and keeping to any required schedule. Keep in constant contact with them and show your face daily. Be forceful but not rude – it’s your money ultimately.
  • Remember that if this is your first project then the likelihood is that both the budget and timescale will be exceeded. Always factor this into any project and if the end result is needed in 4 months try to get it done in 2 months. To try and avoid the budget going over always agree a fixed budget with any builder at the start and don’t pay for work before it has been completed.
  • Remember that problems can always crop up during a large project and you should factor in some extra money for this contingency – some say an extra 20% is a good figure to be on the safe side.
  • Once a project is completed make sure that you test everything prior to tenants moving in. This includes simple things such as filling the bath, testing every light and electrical socket and turning all the radiators on full. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry when a tenant electrocutes himself or floods the property due to defective building work.