The accidental landlord: getting a good night’s sleep makes for a happier tenant

When it comes to buying bedroom furniture Victoria Whitlock finds that spending a bit more on a mattress can pay dividends
One of my tenants had a rude awakening when her bed collapsed to the floor in the middle of the night. She wasn’t hurt, thank goodness, but the bed was beyond repair.

The tenant said she’d be fine sleeping on the mattress on the floor — she probably felt safer that way — but I insisted on buying her a new bed. After all, I don’t want my flat to start looking like a squat.

Personally I think the bed is the most important piece of furniture in a rental property, because if tenants get a good night’s sleep they’re bound to feel happier about where they’re living.

My first port of call for furniture for my rented properties is usually Ikea but the Swedish superstore is not, I think, the best option for beds. For a start, not all their frames are standard sizes, so if you buy one from Ikea you could get locked into buying Ikea mattresses for the lifespan of the bed. As mattresses are the things that need replacing most often in rental properties, I’m not falling for that trick.

Not only that, but Ikea doesn’t offer a very swift delivery service in my opinion. I’ve found that goods bought online take at least seven days. Then there’s the nightmare of assembling the furniture when it arrives, with only a set of drawings and an allen key.

Freecycle and Preloved, two websites folk use to sell or give away unwanted items, are also good hunting grounds for furniture but you generally have to collect the stuff yourself — and anyway, I’d recommend steering clear of second-hand beds, if only because of the risk of bedbugs. Call me paranoid if you like, but once bitten, twice shy.

This time I bought a bed online at www.davidphillips.com which specialises in furniture for rental properties. Items bought before 4pm are delivered the next day, free of charge, within Greater London.

Best of all, their guys assemble the furniture and remove all the packaging. And for an additional charge they’ll even take away the old furniture. If there’s no one at the property to wait for the delivery, you can arrange for them to collect keys from you or your agent.

Their cheapest double bed, a silver metal frame with pine-slatted base, costs £118 — that’s £1 less than Ikea’s cheapest frame as far as I’m aware — but I’ve bought one of those before and this time I was after something sturdier. I didn’t want to risk another accident.

Instead, I went for a divan and mattress for £256. I’m sure I could have found cheaper if I’d had the time to hunt around, but for the convenience of the service I thought that was a good price.

Last time I bought a bed from David Phillips there was a hiccup when they brought the frame without the mattress, then the mattress without the frame, but this time everything went smoothly.

When providing tenants with new mattresses I think it’s a good idea to throw in a mattress protector. They cost about £30, but they’ll save you needing to replace the mattress for every new tenant, and they make the bed comfier, too.

I read recently about a distasteful dispute between a letting agent and a student tenant who, according to the agent, had left behind a soiled mattress. The agent was trying to force the tenant’s guarantor to pay for a new one, but the guarantor refused, arguing that the mattress was fine.

Having protectors on the beds would avoid such dispute, and as this particular agent had charged the tenant a £220 administration fee when she moved in, I’m really surprised she didn’t provide one, free of charge.

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