• When furnishing a rental, you should take into account desirable features, attractive decor and durability.

Though most apartment complexes and rental properties are unfurnished (apart from a few appliances), there is demand for furnished rental properties. They attract vacationers, college students and others who travel light and move often.

Many landlords shy away from the commitment, however, because of the risk of damage. If you’re leasing to short-term renters and college students, the level of care that tenants give to your units tends to fall.

This doesn’t mean you should rule out furnished rentals. They can be highly profitable because you can charge more for furnished spaces and see higher profits from certain fees. There are certain things you can do to minimize potential damage, though. Here are five tips for choosing furnishings your renters will want.

1. Choose resilient furnishings

Furniture should be made of good-quality materials, with strong stitching to prevent easy breakage. For fabrics, you should avoid materials such as suede and vinyl, which are attractive but easily stain and peal. Wood and cheap plastic should also be out of the picture because they chip and break easily.

Instead, opt for cotton, linen, canvas or even microfiber fabrics in dark colors. They’re stain resistant and less likely to break apart or incur damage than cheaper options.

Look for the ones with stainless steel legs because the frame will be more durable. They’ll be a little pricier, of course, but will handle your renters better.

That being said, don’t feel you have to purchase expensive, top-of-the-line brands with all the bells and whistles. Even the most durable of furniture will not withstand a truly destructive tenant, and you’ll have to replace very expensive items.

2. Install green features

Interest in more sustainable, eco-friendly home features is growing rapidly. You’ll have an easier time filling vacancies if you can say you have green furnishings.

For example, the Natural Escape mattress from My Green Mattress is made of organic cotton and natural wool, which reduces the impact on the environment. It’s also heavy duty and comfortable, which are both highly appealing features in a furnished rental property.

You could also install bamboo hardwood flooring from companies such as Plyboo. This is one of the most respected manufacturers of eco-friendly flooring; Plyboo offers affordability, aesthetic appeal and durability with each of its installations.

3. Decorate with neutrals

When you decorate, leave your personal style out of it. Not all renters are going to want to live in a space that has your favorite colors and knick-knacks from your travels. They’ll be looking for more of a blank canvas they can make their own.

White walls and dark-colored furniture make it easy for renters to decorate according to their own style. Also, white walls are easy and cheap to repaint, and dark furniture and carpet repel and hide stains. This is a great way to extend the life of your furniture while attracting renters.

4. Think about smart-home tech

According to a survey run by Coldwell Banker Real Estate, about 80 percent of people say they’re more likely to purchase a home that has smart-home features. They also said they actively search for smart-home tech in potential homes, which means these tech-savvy homes sell more quickly.

The same goes for renters, who also love the idea of smart-home technology. Entertainment, security and temperature setting features, in particular, attract tenants and fill vacancies. Though smart-home technology can be pricey, it may be a highly profitable investment if you hope to get higher rent and fewer vacancies.

5. Make it easy to clean

The ease of cleaning is perhaps the most vital feature of any furniture you purchase. When tenants move out, the space may have to be professionally cleaned, and the easier it is to remove debris and stains, the less it will cost.

Furniture that stains easily and cabinets that collect gunk in every crevice will be a huge headache at the end of the lease. Cotton, linen and wool are typically the easiest fabrics to clean. You’ll also have an easier time lifting dirt and debris from cabinets with flat surfaces and synthetic finishes.

Laminate repels damage, stains and dirt better than hardwood. When you furnish your property, look for materials that repel stains.

It can be stressful to furnish your rental, especially when you’re worried about the potential damage that may lie ahead. However, with some landlord’s insurance and the above tips, you should be able to maintain a high return on investment no matter what happens.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant specializing in entrepreneurship, technology and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Email Anna Johansson

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