The nearest we get to a definition, that I can find anyway, is in relation to tax, where there relevant HMRC page says
A furnished property is one that is capable of normal occupation without the tenant having to provide their own beds, chairs, tables, sofas and other furnishings, cooker etc. The provision of nominal furnishings will not meet this requirement.
Probably the reason why the only definition available is in relation to tax, is because the question of whether a property is furnished or not is mostly significant for tax issues (which this blog does not cover).
However whether a property is furnished or not CAN be significant when the tenant has just moved in.
Landlords repairing obligations at the start of the tenancy
There is a common law rule which says that if the property is let as a furnished property, it must be fit for habitation at the start of the tenancy. If it is not, then the tenant has the right to end the tenancy and move out.
However if the tenant stays in the property, he is deemed to accepted the situation. He will still have rights, but not the right to end the tenancy and move out.
Being fit for human habitation now is generally construed as not having any ‘category 1 hazards. This right is not available for unfurnished properties.
However although this is the only rule I am aware of that is related to whether a property is furnished or not, there are regulations regarding the furniture provided
The furniture regulations
These are the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, which were then amended in 1989.
Basically the regulations require furniture to be fire retardant and to carry the proper labels. If you have bought your furniture from a reputable source they should be fine, but older furniture may not be compliant.
The regulations do not apply to furniture manufactured before 1 January 1950.
I am not going to give any further details about furniture etc regulations, but you can normally find very helpful leaflets from your local Trading Standards Office which enforce these regulations, and they are the best place to go for further information.
Rights as regards furniture
The other questions are what are tenants rights of equipment breaks down and what are landlords rights if the furniture and property contents are damaged?
These questions are to a certain extent connected as they depend on whose fault the problem is down to.
- So if a piece of equipment (such as a fridge) starts to malfunction, then if it was supplied in a faulty condition at the start or if the problem is down to fair wear and tear, then generally it is down to the landlord to sort it out and bear the loss.
- However if the problem is due to the tenant misusing the item, then generally the liability for the cost of replacement or repair (whichever is appropriate) will be down to the tenant.
In many cases the problem is really how do you prove which one it is?
In this connection, Tom Derrett’s book on How to Win Deposit Disputes is very helpful and is highly recommended to all landlords who have a deposit dispute.