Landlord Tips

One Man’s Trash…Can Save You a Fortune

David Rutland
Written by David Rutland

Buying new is a mug’s game. We show you how to decorate and furnish your rental property for next to nothing.

What’s the difference between a fully furnished, newly decorated flat and and unfurnished one with a decades old paint job?

£50 per month? £100 maybe? Not to mention that it’s a whole lot easier to let a property which looks like it’s been cared for.

If you have a mortgage to pay, that £50 to £100 per month can make the difference between a growing property empire and being unable to meet your payments.

Naturally, you want your property looking great, but you don’t want to spend thousands either.

That’s where community recycling projects come in, allowing you to obtain furniture, furnishings, and decorating materials either for free, or for next to nothing. They’re not specifically aimed at landlords or the property market, but you’re not specifically excluded either.

Here’s how to get the best out of recycled and upcycled materials in your area.

Freecycle / Freegle

Started back in the glory days of Yahoo! Groups, freecycle offered a way for people to get rid of the items that they didn’t want without the bother of either taking it to the tip, or putting it on ebay. A simple advert with a picture would have your inbox clogged up with people wanting to ride away on your rusty old bicycle.

Why it’s great:

It’s not just for old ironing boards and dodgy magazines. People using Freecycle (or Freegle as it’s been known for the last few years) offer up all kinds of household goods in your area. Looking at an obscure Aberdeenshire group right now, we can see working dishwashers, an electric double bed with mattress, tables, bookcases, and a gorgeous leather sofa. These are all totally free of charge – all you need to do is pick them up.

Why you may want to look elsewhere

When a quality item is advertised for free, the owner is going to be deluged with requests. They may take the first offer that comes in (in which case you’ll need to be constantly monitoring the site – or they may select someone at random to pick up the goods. Either way, you’ll need to make Freegle-watching a full time occupation if you want to furnish an entire house.

Best items we’ve acquired

A fully functioning one year old laptop; a rather nice dining table;  a garden shed.

Recipro UK

When builders and other tradesmen finish a job, they often find they have a load of brand new, unused materials left over. The client has already paid for them, and storing them on the off-chance they might be needed again is impractical.

Rather than hiring a skip, many plumbers, joiners, and other craftsmen are choosing to donate to Recipro – a centrally organised recycling enterprise with depots around the UK. The materials are then given away or sold for a fraction of their true cost. Small portion of their inventory is available to view online, although you’re better off showing up at your local Recipro centre in person to see what’s in stock.

Why it’s great

Seriously? Paint tins at £1 per can. Interior doors for £5. Fantastic and unexpected bargains. Do you have a property which needs fire doors? Right now the Swansea depot has 11 of them, with glass, priced at £10 each. Want to make a nice splashback for the bathroom? The depot in South East London has a few boxes of Pilkington Autumn Fawn tiles which they’re not even charging for. You can fit out an entire kitchen with maple units being offered at £5 each.

Why you may want to look elsewhere

Only a small selection of stock is shown online. To truly find what you’re looking for, you’ll need to show up in person – and you’ll be there all day. Recipro depots are an Aladdin’s cave of wonders, and it’s almost impossible to quickly nip in and out. You’ll also finding yourself asking deep questions such as ‘who in Swansea ordered 12 solid oak wine racks and then decided they didn’t want them? Then you’ll end up buying the lot at £10 each.

Best items we’ve acquired

A 10 litre tub of gorgeous red paint which we used to create a feature chimney breast. It was 20p.

Fabulous, eh?

Community Furniture Recycling Enterprises

Like Freegle, these enterprises take furniture which people no longer want and provide it to others at super low prices. Unlike Freegle, they generally have a quality control mechanism, and they clean and service their goods before resale.

Generally located in warehouse units on industrial estates dotted around the country, they offer everything from beds to electrical appliances.

Why they’re great

Furniture is clean, good quality, and usually comes with a guarantee. You can turn up with a couple of hundred quid in your pocket and come away with enough decent furniture to completely kit out your house, including kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms.

They will also usually deliver.

Why you may want to look elsewhere

It’s unusual for community furniture recycling enterprises to have a website. So you’ll have to use google to find out where they are, and then show up in person to find out what’s in stock.

If you’re after a thematically furnished room, you’re not likely to have much luck. Most furniture comes in as single items, and while you’ll probably be able to pick up a suite where the chairs are the same colour as the sofa, it’ll be a miracle if they’re all in the same style.

Lastly, these enterprises were founded to help individual householders to furnish their properties – not landlords, and many offer discounts to students or people on benefits, so you may feel a little twinge of conscience if you’re a repeat visitor doing large projects.

Best items we’ve acquired

The two seater leather recliner I’m currently sitting on (£25), a ridiculously large oak welsh dresser (£15), a Smeg fridge freezer (£15), a gorgeous cast iron king-sized bed (£40, but goddamn –  it’s fabulous) .

Believe it or not, everything in this rental property was bought from a community furniture recycling enterprise.


About the author

David Rutland

David Rutland

With a decades long career as a professional writer, David Rutland has worked as a journalist on local, national, and international newspapers, before embarking as a career as a freelancer.

He has ghostwritten several books, as well as producing travel guides, manuals, humour articles, and more internet blogs than you can shake a stick at.

David maintains offices in East London, but spends most of his time in a shed near Liverpool, where he writes, as well as developing apps for Android.

What people say about him:

Arrogant and abrasive - Alan Davis, Editor in Chief North Wales News Group

An absolute liability - Matt Simms, Editor, Vale advertiser

Are you sure this won't get us all arrested? - Mohana Prabhakar, Editor in Chief, Apex News Group

Go and have a shave. You're all prickly - Mrs Donna Rutland.

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