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Refurb Your Rental Property – Our 7 Top Tips For Success

Refurbishing a rental property can be a rewarding investment if done right. But what is key to ensure your rental refurb is a success?


In this guide, we share our 7 top tips for creating a rental home that appeals to the ‘right’ tenants and stands the test of time.


When you’re refurbishing a rental property, you should keep two main goals in mind:

  1. Ensuring the work is done to a high standard to avoid future major repairs. And;
  2. Creating a safe, appealing home for tenants.

Once tenants are in place, it can be incredibly disruptive to carry out work on the property. Therefore, it’s well worth doing a thorough job with your initial refurb.

But what are the key things you need to consider to ensure your rental refurb is a success?

Over the years, we’ve seen landlords get it right but we’ve also seen them get it very wrong. Hindsight is a gift, so we thought we’d put our wealth of experience and knowledge to good use and share with you our seven top tips to create a fabulous rental property that will be a great investment into the future:


A window sill in a recently refurbed rental property in Chester. Currans Homes Estate Agency.


1). Take Time To Plan the Whole Project

Refurbishing a property – particularly if you have to gut it and start from scratch – requires a solid plan before you so much as pick up a hammer otherwise things can and will go wrong.

Take time to put together a ‘schedule of works’ that lists all the individual jobs you’d like to complete, in the order they need to be done, set to a defined timescale.


2). Find The ‘Right’ Contractor

The right people with the right skills can be the difference between a stress-free refurb and a major headache!

Take some time to find the ‘right’ contractors who are properly qualified and insured – ideally, those who have previous experience working on rental refurbs. It’s a great idea to find a local project manager or ‘lead contractor’ who will manage all the different contractors and tradespeople on your behalf to keep the project on schedule. Lead contractors also tend to have a wealth of tried-and-trusted contacts that they work with regularly, which could save you a lot of guesswork when it comes to finding the perfect electrician or plumber!

Of course, hiring a project manager/lead contractor will come at an additional cost. But many landlords find its money well spent as it can save a huge amount of time and stress (and we’re inclined to agree!).


A builder measures out fittings for during a rental refurb for Currans Homes, Chester-based estate agency.


3). Know Your Budget

It’s worth taking the time to shop around to ensure you’re paying a fair price for materials and labour. However, do remember to balance initial costs against the value you’ll get over time. (Note: The cheapest contractor is not always the best value contractor).


4). Don’t Ignore Energy-Efficiency

We highly recommend installing energy-efficient systems and fittings where possible. In addition to the environmental impact, there are many other good reasons to make your refurbished rental as energy-efficient as possible:


  • Tenants, especially the younger generations, are very eco-aware and will be attracted to a property that uses green products. Plus, with rising energy costs most tenants are conscious that a more energy-efficient home means lower heating bills.
  • While rental properties are currently required to achieve a minimum of E on the energy performance certificate (EPC), the Government plans to raise that to C for new tenancies by 2025. Futureproofing during your current renovation will work our FAR cheaper in the long run versus having to play catch-up with new works at a later date.
  • If you can achieve a property rating of A or B, you will be able to access ‘green mortgage’ deals with lower interest rates than standard buy-to-let mortgage products. This means your monthly payments will be lower, and the savings could offset much, if not all, of the cost of your energy improvements over time.


In addition to investing in double glazing and ensuring the property is fully insulated, consider installing:
  • A heat pump: If your property has enough land, consider a ground source pump. However, if space is limited or the property is flat, consider cheaper air source options.
  • A Smart Meter: For gas and electricity, a smart meter and smart thermostat will help tenants monitor and control their energy use.
  • Water-Saving Measures: Low-flush toilets and water-saving shower heads could cut water usage by around 50%.
  • Energy-Efficient Appliances: White Goods with a good energy efficiency rating will help keep tenants’ bills reasonable.
  • LED Lights: LED lightbulbs are revolutionary, they use less energy and last longer than standard bulbs.



5), Know Your Legal Obligations

All rented properties must adhere to various laws dictating minimum standards and conditions, including fire, gas, and electrical safety. Additional requirements apply if your rental is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) or falls under a local authority licensing scheme.

For example:

  • There must be no issues with damp.
  • There must be adequate ventilation and natural light.
  • There must be adequate space for living and sleeping. (HMOs have specific minimum room sizes).
  • You must install interlinked smoke alarms and heat sensors.
  • Any furnishings you provide must be fire-safe and have manufacturers’ labels attached.
  • HMOs must have fire doors.

Failing to meet your obligations can result in fines of up to £30,000 from your local authority without court action. Not to mention by failing to meet these requirements you’ll be putting your tenants at risk. It’s vital to know which laws apply to your property.

It’s also important to be aware of your local authority’s requirements around planning permission and building regulations. Make sure you secure any necessary permissions before beginning your refurb because they’re not known for being forgiving to those who storm ahead blindly!

The best way to ensure compliance is to speak to a local council housing officer as soon as you have an idea of the work you’re going to undertake. Ideally, have them visit the property for specific advice and guidance. Your local fire department should also be happy to send a Fire Safety Officer to advise you on appropriate fire safety measures.



6). Make Sure the Basic Décor is Hard-Wearing

Your basic canvas – floors, walls, ceilings, and woodwork – should be neutral and hard-wearing. Choose products that will last, be forgiving on stains and scuffs, and remain visually appealing to tenants.

We suggest investing in three different types of flooring:

  1. Kitchen: A large, square porcelain tile in taupe or mid-grey works and wears well.
  2. Bathroom: Fully tile the floor and walls with reasonably large tiles for easy cleaning. Use the same tile for both – mid to dark grey is a popular choice. To make small bathrooms appear larger, lay the tiles at a slight angle and choose a lighter colour.
  3. Living Areas: For the rest of the property, having the same flooring throughout will make rooms flow and maximize the feeling of space. Any carpet supplier can advise on the most hard-wearing products, mid-brown is a good colour for rentals. If you opt for hardwood or laminate flooring, avoid cheaper products as they don’t last well giving rise to a false economy.

When it comes to paint, choose a standard range that’s likely to stay in stock. And use the same paint for as much of the property as possible. However, follow these extra trade secrets:

  1. Moisture: In the kitchen and bathroom, where moisture collects, use mould-resistant paint.
  2. Ceilings: Paint all ceilings white to maximize room height.
  3. Woodwork: Use white-trade satinwood for woodwork – it has a tough finish and will look fresh longer.
  4. Walls: For the walls, light beige or cream is a sound choice, with a finish that can be wiped down, such as Dulux Easycare.


A beautiful neutral living room in a recently refurbished rental property marketed by Currans Homes Estate Agency in Cheshire.


7). Tailor The Finish To Your Target Tenants

Last but not least, when choosing fittings and furnishings, consider the type of tenant you’re trying to attract. And tailor the finish to their expectations. It’s a good idea to speak to a good local letting agent to learn about current demand, what’s most important to tenants, and what makes them choose one property over another. What touches can you include to help your property let quickly to the best tenants at the highest price?

The kitchen and bathroom should always be sleek-looking and easy to clean where possible. And the rest of the property should feel light and spacious. Remember, a dishwasher, microwave, and tumble dryer are considered essential these days – so don’t skimp on the white goods!


Get In Touch

If you’re about to embark on a refurb project or you’re planning to overhaul your rental property in the next year or so, we’d love to chat through your plans and see if we can help. Get in touch and a member of our lettings team will get right back to you!