Furnished or Unfurnished Apartments in Chicago: Which Should You Offer?


The Case for Furnished Units

Furnished apartments are sought after for a number of reasons. People who are looking for shorter term rentals (such as a summer sublease, or a one-year stay in a city) or who don’t want to bother with decorating their own spaces will often seek out furnished apartments. Additionally, college students who don’t yet need their own sets of furniture will make up some of your interested tenants. Furnished apartments in Chicago are beneficial for landlords whose rental pool includes these demographics, but beyond simply meeting a demand and having a predictable market, there are other reasons why a property owner or landlord might offer their apartments as furnished units.

Increased Rent and Security Deposits or Fees

When you have furnished rental units, you can charge more for them, because you’re offering your tenants the convenience of not having to supply their own furniture. Even with the increased cost, though, renters who want furnished units tend to agree that the added cost is worth not having to buy furniture. You’ll also be able to set higher move-in fees or security deposits to cover the costs of supplying and maintaining furniture.

Quicker Tenant Turnover

When you rent out unfurnished apartments, the move-in/move-out processes can be somewhat complicated—coordinating walk-throughs to check for damage can be time-consuming, since you need to wait for all of the furniture to be out of the unit prior to checking. With furnished units, you just have to clean the unit and the next tenant can move in right away.


Ease of Finding Renters

Renters who need furnished units in Chicago know that they have fewer options to choose from, and know they can’t be as choosy as they might be if they were looking for an unfurnished apartment. Even though renters who want furnished apartments are scarcer than those who want unfurnished apartments, finding tenants for your units is still relatively easy, simply because there aren’t as many furnished apartments on the market. Since supply is limited, it’s usually not difficult to find renters for furnished apartments in Chicago.

Potential Pitfalls of Furnished Units

On the other side of the coin, offering furnished units can have some drawbacks. First, you’ll have to source furniture that is durable and reasonably attractive, which can be a tall order. The upkeep in these apartments can be more labor-intensive as well, including replacing or repairing furniture as it endures natural wear and tear.

There is also higher turnover in furnished apartments, simply because those renters are usually staying for shorter periods of time than renters in unfurnished apartments.

Perhaps the biggest potential downside of offering furnished units, though, is the possibility that tenants will cause more damage than they would in an unfurnished unit. That can be attributed to the thought that because the furniture is not theirs, they don’t need to take good care of it—after all, if anything breaks, their landlord can just replace it! In order to protect yourself from destructive tenants, it’s helpful to work with a property management company in Chicago to screen tenants and find the most trustworthy renters.

Benefits of Renting Unfurnished Apartments

Furnished apartments are much more common to find listings for, and for that reason, tenants have a lot more to choose from. This makes your job a bit tougher, but offering unfurnished apartments in Chicago offers a lot of great benefits as well.

A Larger Tenant Market Means Shorter Vacancy Periods

Unfurnished apartments are generally pretty easy to rent because they’re what most tenants are looking for when they’re hunting for a place to live. For that reason, your vacancy periods may be shorter than they would be if you were renting furnished units. Additionally, since more people are looking for unfurnished apartments in Chicago, you’ll have more flexibility in choosing renters, and can be a bit pickier when it comes to tenant screenings.

Since more people want unfurnished apartments, it’s usually easier to get them rented. You can show the units either with furniture in them or without—or, you can feature photos of the apartment in both states, so that people can visualize what they can do with the space.

People may be interested in a certain location, but if your unit is offered as being furnished and they have their own furniture, they’ll pass on yours. Marketing unfurnished apartments means you may have better luck keeping your apartments in Chicago rented.

Less Upkeep and Responsibility

Unfurnished apartments are also a bit less responsibility to take care of than furnished ones. Furnished units need to be kept looking their best, and that can mean replacing the furniture pretty frequently—over the lifespan of your property, that can add up to a lot of money spent on furniture. Similarly, when one tenant moves out and you need to prep it for the next renter, you don’t have to move furniture to paint or refinish floors, for instance. Generally speaking, you’ll have less to do with unfurnished units in the realm of cosmetic updates.

Possible Problems Associated with Unfurnished Rentals

Thankfully, there aren’t too many issues related to renting unfurnished apartments. Perhaps the biggest one you’ll have to deal with is damage caused by your tenants moving their furniture in and out of the building, or people leaving behind furniture that you then have to dispose of yourself.


Which Is Best For Your Property?

Although there are benefits and disadvantages to both options, the more common choice for property owners in Chicago is to rent their units as unfurnished apartments. If you’re still not sure which is best for your specific property, working with a property management company can be very helpful. They’ll be able to help you make an informed decision about your apartments, and they’ll also be able to take care of all the maintenance, bookkeeping, and other responsibilities of being a landlord, so that you can live the life you deserve. Here at Lofty, we want to help you make the most of your investment properties—call us anytime to learn more about how we can make owning rental property a lot easier for you.

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