Home » What should landlords provide in unfurnished rented properties?

What should landlords provide in unfurnished rented properties?

unfurnished rented property with curtain rail and new carpet

When you’re setting out as a landlord, or even when you’ve been a landlord for a while, it can be difficult to know what you should put in unfurnished rental properties. Some of it is a grey area, depending on personal preference and target market. Others are legal obligations.

Undoubtedly, the more a landlord provides, the higher the start-up costs and running costs when the item wears out or breaks.

However, it’s about getting the balance right so that the property doesn’t end up in a no-man’s-land of “part-furnished”, which is costly, and which might not be what your target renters are looking for. On the other hand, some little touches, like curtain poles and bathroom cabinets, do make settling in easier for renters.

In this blog post, I’m first going to explain what landlords must put into their unfurnished rented properties by law in England and Wales. Then I’ll discuss what landlords often provide, and finally what falls into the “nice to have” category, all while making sure we keep on the “unfurnished” side of the line.

In writing this post, I draw on my experience as both a lawyer and a landlord who lets unfurnished rental properties in England.

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What must landlords supply in unfurnished rented properties?

Let’s start with the handful of items that landlords are legally obliged to provide in unfurnished rented properties, beyond the basics like a boiler, heating, toilets and a bath or shower.

As you can see in the graphic and the text, the compulsory items relate to safety and the basic facilities to cook.

A summary of the things that landlords must put into unfurnished rental properties and buy to lets in the UK by law

I give more detail below on what landlords must provide in all rented homes in England as a matter of law.

The situation in Wales has become more complex since the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 came into effect in December 2022. However, the Guidance for Landlords in Wales is fairly comprehensive.

1. Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms must be fitted on every floor, and tested every year.

In England, they can be battery operated for single lets, but need to be hard-wired for licensed HMOs. In Wales, smoke alarms for new tenancies, now called occupation contracts, have needed to be hard-wired since 1 December 2022. Landlords with tenancies in place before 1 December have until 30 November 2023 to arrange the fitting of hard-wired smoke alarms. Click here for more information on occupation contracts in Wales.

Landlords in both England and Wales must provide least one smoke alarm on each storey of their properties with living accommodation. For instance, if the cellar or loft are not habitable space, smoke alarms are not necessary.

Do follow the manufacturer’s instructions but, as a rule of thumb, battery operated smoke alarms should be fixed to the ceiling in a circulation space such as a hall or a landing. Electricians can fit the hard-wired alarms.

2. Carbon monoxide alarms

Landlords must provide carbon monoxide alarms in every room where there is a “fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers)”. In practice, this means boilers, wood-burning stoves and other operational fireplaces. They also must be tested every year.

For my properties, I buy carbon monoxide alarms with a battery that lasts 10 years. I make a note of the expiry date in my electronic calendar. For landlords with large portfolios, the dates can be entered in their property management software such as Landlord Vision.

Click here for the government guidance on CO2 alarms.

3. Light fittings

Light fittings should be safe and in any event the property will need to have received a satisfactory EICR within the previous 5 years.

4. Cooker, oven and hob (and extractor)

Section 10 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (an amendment of which came into effect in England in 2019) states that for a property to be fit for human habitation, it needs to have “facilities for preparation and cooking of food”. However, the landlord’s guidance doesn’t spell out exactly what this means.

The word “facilities” suggests more than just connections for electricity or gas, ie something that the tenants can use to cook food in or on. I interpret this as meaning that tenants need to have both a hob (something to heat saucepans and frying pans on the bench top) and a proper oven. This can be either an all in one appliance (a cooker) or a separate hob and oven. A mini bench top cooker, like this one from Amazon, is likely to be acceptable in a bedsit for one. I think it would be difficult for a landlord to argue that a microwave alone is enough.

Equally, if a landlord supplies an oven and hob (or a mini version if suitable), they wouldn’t be legally obliged to provide a microwave as well.

In Wales, the guidance for the equivalent legislation, ie Part 4 of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 , doesn’t state that “adequate cooking facilities” need to be provided. Instead, paragraph 16 says that “facilities should be of adequate size for the household with appropriate connections for fuel (gas or electricity)” for it to be fit for human habitation.

From a practical point of view, whilst it’s not a legal requirement, it’s wise to supply a vented extractor system in the kitchen as that will reduce condensation and, potentially, mould.

>> Related Post: How should landlords tackle damp and mould

5. Flooring

The landlord must provide appropriate flooring for renters. Exposed floorboards are acceptable, so long as they are safe to walk on. Leaving underlay and grippers for the tenants to put carpet on top of is not acceptable.

6. Secure doors

The external doors need to be secure and have locks that work properly. It’s good practice to change the locks in between tenants, and definitely after buying a property. The photo below is of a local locksmith changing the locks shortly after completion on one of my buy to lets.

Good landlords change the locks when buying a new rental property and in between tenants
It’s best practice to change the locks in between tenants

Proposal for a Decent Homes Standard for the English PRS

In September 2022, the Department for Levelling Up launched a consultation into adapting the Decent Homes Standard used in social housing for the private rented sector in England. The proposal builds on previous law, with a new obligation to have “reasonable facilities and services”, as follows:

  • a kitchen with adequate space and layout, appropriate to the property (sink, cupboards, cooker space, worktops etc)
  • an appropriately located bathroom and WC
  • adequate external noise insulation, and
  • adequate size and layout of common entrance areas for blocks of flats.

Although the Decent Homes Standard is mentioned in the Renters’ Reform Bill, we’re still waiting for details on exactly what it will mean for private landlords

In Wales, the equivalent information for landlords is provided here: Fitness of Homes for Human Habitation: Guidance for Landlords. It came into effect on 1 December 2022.

>> Related Post: Changes to the Decent Homes Standard for the Private Rented Sector

Which do most landlords provide in unfurnished rented properties?

The next category is those items that landlords typically provide in unfurnished rented properties, without it being a legal requirement. The exact choice will depend on the type of tenant and what is usual locally.

1. Which appliances / white goods must private landlords supply in rental properties?

Landlords must supply a cooker or an oven and a hob for the property to be fit for human habitation. A microwave is a nice to have, and not a necessity.

If the kitchen is fitted with space for integrated appliances, these should be supplied by the landlord. A tenant shouldn’t have to buy integrated appliances for a fitted kitchen. For free-standing appliances, beyond the cooker and oven/hob, it’s up to the landlord.

Appliances are expensive items and are prone to breakages. The more the landlord provides, the more “emergency calls” for when they break.

Many landlords provide a freestanding (or integrated) fridge freezer, although it isn’t compulsory. It’s a fairly low risk / high reward option to provide, although I would avoid one that chills water or is an ice-maker. Choose one with a long guarantee, just in case.

It’s standard for there to be plumbing for washing machines and, increasingly, dishwashers. However, in my area of Kent, it is rare for a landlord to provide a washing machine or tumbler dryer in an unfurnished property, unless the appliances in the kitchen are integrated.

Additionally, if the landlord provides freestanding appliances and other “portable” electrical items, it is important to arrange regular safety testing. Having a regular portable appliance testing is an easy way of keeping on top of this.

2. Windows: Must landlords supply curtains, blinds, rails or poles?

Curtain rail in a bay window
It’s a good idea for landlords to provide curtain poles or rails, especially for complicated bay windows like this!

Landlords are not legally required to provide curtains or blinds for tenants. However, most landlords do provide something to help tenants cover the windows in at least the bedrooms and living room.

It’s common practice for landlords to provide curtain poles, curtain rails, or blinds for the bedrooms and main front room.

Personally, I always provide curtain poles or rails in the bedrooms and front room. I supply curtains if they were already there when I bought the house, so long as they are of the right standard. However, I don’t buy curtains, because of the cost, and also because renters often want curtains to go with their furniture and pictures.

As well as being nice for tenants, it’s a wise decision to provide at least curtain poles or rails, and it prevents tenants from drilling holes to do it themselves, which could lead to wall damage. The photo above is of a curtain pole that I installed for a bay window. It was difficult to put up, and something I’d much rather arrange myself so I know it’ll be done properly.

Take care with blinds, as they need to comply with child safety standards.

3. Bathroom fittings

examples of bathroom fittings that are good practice for landlords to provide
Examples of inexpensive bathroom fittings which are nice finishing touches in unfurnished rented properties

Landlords often provide bathroom cabinets, (heated) towel rails, hooks and loo roll holders. Again, it avoids the tenant needing to drill items into the walls. These aren’t legal obligations, but they’re a nice touch.

An extractor fan for the bathroom is very common and wise addition. Although it’s not compulsory to install an extractor, it’s definitely worthwhile as it helps reduce the risk of damp and mould.

Which other items do landlords sometimes provide?

There are a number of low cost basic household items that renters will need, and which can be easier and safer for the landlord to supply. Also, they all fall short of falling over the “furnished” line.

As well as the bathroom fittings mentioned above, landlords often provide lamp shades, door mats and a kitchen rubbish bins. These are are popular and inexpensive, which landlords can easily replace if need be.

Recap: FAQs about what unfurnished means

Quick fire FAQs
FAQs about what landlords need to provide in unfurnished properties

Here is a recap which answers the most popular questions about what landlords need to provide in unfurnished properties in England:

Do landlords need to provide an oven?

Yes, landlords need to provide an oven as they are obliged to provide “adequate cooking facilities”. A microwave over would be inadequate, although a mini cooker would probably acceptable for a one person studio. Click here for more about ovens.

Does a landlord need to provide a cooker?

Yes, landlords are under a legal obligation to provide “adequate cooking facilities” for renters in rental properties. This means a hob and an oven, or a cooker, which combines the two. Click here for more about cookers.

Do landlords need to provide curtains or curtain poles in an unfurnished property?

No, there is no legal obligation for landlords to provide coverings for windows in unfurnished rental properties.

That said, responsible landlords do provide curtain poles, curtain tracks or blinds for bedrooms and rooms facing onto the street. You can find out more about window coverings here.

Must landlords supply fridges and/or freezers in unfurnished properties?

No, landlords are not required by law to provide a fridge or freezer in unfurnished properties, unless it’s for a fitted kitchen. You can find out more about white goods here.

Must landlords supply washing machine in unfurnished properties?

No, landlords are not obliged to supply a washing machine, but most landlords will provide the plumbing for a washing machine.

You can find out more about appliances here.

Final thoughts

Apart from the compulsory items, there is no right and wrong regarding how much further to go. All additional items incur expense, which reduces net profits. On the other hand, they can improve the renter’s experience and give a great first impression. It is a good way to show that their landlord has their interests at heart.

If you’d like to understand how to be a good, responsible landlord, take a look at my blog post on the 5 hallmarks of a responsible landlord.

Finally, being a responsible landlord and looking after renters, is good business. And it is about getting the balance right for you and the needs of your target market.

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what should UK landlords provide in unfurnished properties

16 thoughts on “What should landlords provide in unfurnished rented properties?”

  1. It’s been awhile since I rented. These are good tips and you need to make smart decisions when entering a new contract.

  2. The cooker in my rented out flat needed to be replaced. I ordered a new one and my agents informed the tenants of times of arrival for delivery and fitting. When cooker arrived, it was not what tenants expected and refused entry to fit it. There will be an additional charge to order another. What rights do I have to recover the costs?

    1. Yes to cooker, no to curtain rails, but it’s a good idea to provide curtain rails as it means you can make sure they are put up properly. It’s also a nice touch for renters.

  3. We are about to rent out a place and was told that the landlord wouldnt provide a cooker is that allowed ?as a tenant i believe we have the right to be provided with atleast a basic cooker

  4. Dominique Thomas

    Hi, I am a tenant and my hob and oven have not been working since Sunday 10th March. I have a 5yr old and a 7yr old. I contacted the property management team and had no answer. I contacted the landlady who said that she was on holiday and would deal with it on Monday 11th as it was a non urgent issue. This was then followed on Monday 11th with a message stating that it was non urgent and more of an inconvenience so I was not to contact her anymore. The engineer has been booked in for Thursday 14th but in the meantime my children are having sandwiches for meals. Is this correct that it is classed as inconvenience and not urgent and can I somehow be reimbursed for the extra money paid out on “pre cooked” food for my children?

    1. I’m sorry to hear this, and that your landlord hasn’t been sympathetic. I can’t give advice on individual circumstances, but I personally see not having a cooker as being more than a mere inconvenience. When the oven in one of my buy to lets stopped working in Lockdown, I ordered another one on AO.com and it was installed within a couple of days. Probably a similar timescale to what you’ve been quoted. Do you have a microwave?

  5. Stephen Alexander

    Hi , my girlfriend rents a house , moved in December 2023 .
    Once she moved in discovered the heater wasn’t working correctly, radiators hot at top cold at bottom . Also the hot water for bath and shower only runs hot for 2/3 minutes so you cannot have a bath and just a cool shower. She has reported to the agent who has tried to fix it , but it needs a full new system .the agent has told her this is not happening as of the cost , if your not happy move out .where does she stand and can she get compensation for this ?

    1. I’m sorry to hear this. She should tell the letting agent that the landlord is obliged by law to fix the heating. For instance, section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires landlords to “keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water” and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 requires landlords to keep the property fit for human habitation and free from hazards.

      If the letting agent refuses to act, your girlfriend can report it to the local authority. You can read more about it in this blog post: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

  6. I’m considering renting a property. We currently have an integrated dishwasher, that will probably need some repairs. Are we better to remove it and not provide a dishwasher?

    1. If it’s an integrated appliance, you either need to supply it or take it out completely and put in a cupboard. That said, dishwashers are very popular with tenants. I even had one ask me to take out a cupboard and put in plumbing for a dishwasher, which I did. If I were in your position, I’d buy a new one with guarantee before letting it out.

  7. hi I’m currently renting a property that in the tenancy agreement it states that the fridge washing machine and cooker or a gift and not part of the tenancy. Put the gas cooker is very old and I am under the impression it will not pass its gas safety check my landlord is saying that it is my responsibility to replace the cooker if the one in the property fails the check he will just remove it and not replace it

    1. Sorry to hear that. The gas safety check does need to cover the cooker. Your landlord is responsible for providing cooking facilities, and that means a cooker or oven / hob. They’re not required to supply a fridge and washing machine. I suggest you forward him a link to this blog post.

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