COOKING UP IMPROVEMENTS WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

Published 5 July 2022

The idea of a ‘Decent Homes’ standard for privately let residential accommodation, similar to that which has been in place for social housing for many years, was a positive part of the recent White Paper on residential lettings.

Included in this standard will be kitchens and bathrooms, two areas which are sometimes neglected by landlords keen not to face a big bill for refurbishment.  But with a little savvy planning, you can create a really good experience for tenants without breaking the bank.Capture9

It’s a bit of a cliché to say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, but cliches generally exist because they contain a big dollop of truth.  Whilst young tenants in one-bedroom flats might use the kitchen to grab a quick meal before going out to socialise, for families much of what happens in the home centres on this important room.

This is why so many new homes are being built with open-plan kitchen//diner/family rooms, where residents can share cooking, eating and relaxing all in one space.

Even if your residential let doesn’t offer such a space, making sure the kitchen is up to scratch will ensure the ongoing satisfaction of existing tenants, and attract better quality tenants willing to spend a little more in rent.  The trick is to achieve such a kitchen without spending too much.

In many cases it’s not necessary to rip everything out and start again.  If the basic structure of the kitchen – the carcasses – are sound, there are many lower-cost options, from simply redecorating with specialist kitchen paint, to replacing the doors and drawer fronts.

Replacing tired and grubby tiled splashbacks with modern splashback panels is cost-effective, and much easier for the tenant to keep clean and in good condition – no-one enjoys cleaning grouting!

It’s amazing the difference to the whole room that new flooring can make, and whilst you can spend thousands on bespoke terracotta tiles, good quality vinyl flooring can spruce up the space for much less outlay.

If the kitchen in your property is dark and dingy, installing new lighting can completely transform things.  Make sure it’s energy-efficient LED lighting, and then it will contribute to improving that vital EPC rating.

Even really simple hacks such as covering an empty space with an attractive piece of curtain can hugely improve the space – just make sure the curtain material is washable.

Nowadays tenants expect a decent cooker and, increasingly, a dishwasher; these are basics rather than luxuries in today’s lettings world.  And it’s a good idea to invest in a washer/dryer rather than just a washing machine, because wet clothes hanging in the home is a sure-fire route to condensation problems, which is not good news for you or your tenants.

Home is where the heart is, and the heart of the home is the kitchen.  So it’s worth making sure yours is up to scratch to maximise the value of your residential let.

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Catherine Hunt

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