Re­furbs are about know­ing when to stop

Vic­to­ria Whit­lock has to bal­ance the cost of ren­o­vat­ing one of her flats against the ex­tra rental her ef­forts may or may not bring

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Letting On -

had seen bet­ter days, and I think that as a re­sult I’ve strug­gled to find good ten­ants. The first one left the flat in a ter­ri­ble mess and the other two treated it more like stu­dent digs than a home for young pro­fes­sion­als.

When­ever I ad­ver­tise for ten­ants about 90 per cent of the ap­pli­cants are on ben­e­fits, prob­a­bly be­cause the rent is more af­ford­able than most other two-bed­room flats in the bor­ough. I’ve toyed with the idea of ac­cept­ing ten­ants on hous­ing ben­e­fit, but my mort­gage pro­hibits it and my build­ings in­sur­ance, which is ar­ranged by the free­holder, re­stricts me to pro­fes­sional lets only. In­stead, I’m hop­ing that if the flat is smarter, it will at­tract young pro­fes­sion­als or fam­i­lies who want to live some­where nice. Also, they might stay longer, which will re­duce my costs and the amount of time the flat lies empty be­tween lets.

Of course, now that the in­side of the flat is start­ing to look so much nicer, the out­side looks even shab­bier. So I’m try­ing to per­suade my hubby that we need to do up the gar­den, too. An ar­ti­cle on the Money­wise.co.uk fi­nan­cial web­site says re­vamp­ing the out­side space can add five to 10 per cent to a prop­erty’s value, I tell him.

THE only prob­lem with this new plan of ac­tion is it means I’ve got more choices to make. Should I go for a mod­ern, sleek Hit and Miss fence (prob­a­bly too pricey) or cheap but bor­ing feath­er­board pan­els? Fake grass or deck­ing? Trees or bam­boo screen­ing? “Argh! Not if it doesn’t add enough value,” shrieks my hus­band.

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