What you need to know:
A furnished apartment is a rental home that comes with the furniture, appliances and accessories you’ll need and use during your stay.
Christmas holidays are approaching fast and demand for furnished apartments is on the rise. While the biggest consumers of furnished apartments over the Christmas period are diaspora Ugandans coming home for the holidays, other people seeking a change of environment during the festivities also demand for furnished apartments.
A furnished apartment is a rental home that comes with the furniture, appliances and accessories you’ll need and use during your stay. You won’t need to carry your bed, sofa set, TV, fridge and stove to this rental home because they are already provided by the landlord. These rental properties are targeted at people seeking short stays but don’t want to stay in a hotel, people whose work makes it untenable to have a permanent residence, and holidaying families.
Those who choose to live in furnished apartments over hotels are looking for a home away from home. A couple with three children is more likely to choose to stay in a furnished apartment and not a hotel given the option, because the former option keeps the family together in the same unit while a hotel would typically separate them into different rooms.
Hotel vs furnished apartment
While hotels provide services that are ideal for short-term stays just like a furnished apartment, the latter offers a more private experience that is more akin to home. For instance you won’t have to deal with the unwanted presence of attendants like in the case of hotels. It’s just you and your loved ones in your own private space.
Living in a furnished apartment means that you do all the cooking, all cleaning and all the errands yourself, which is the opposite of hotel stays. This makes these rental homes ideal for holiday stays like the forthcoming Christmas season. You can still make your grandma’s ghee-cream (eshabwe) recipe for Christmas from your tenth floor living quarters in Kololo. A furnished apartment is ideal for people looking for a more independent and bespoke experience.
Finding a furnished apartment
More and more people are relying on the internet to find furnished apartments. Abbas Rasheed, the General Manager at Universal Multipurpose Properties and owner of multiple furnished apartments says that all the bookings for all his apartments come through Airbnb, a booking app for furnished apartments.
“Airbnb is a very user-friendly app to find a furnished apartments. We post our apartments on the app by providing photos and a video of the apartment, including the price per day or per month. This information is seen by prospective clients wishing to travel to the location where the apartment is. The booking is done online, the app takes 5% commission from the landlord,” Rasheed says.
He opines that the hotel model is slowly going out of fashion as travelers opt more for furnished apartments. Other apps that you can use to find furnished apartments are Expedia, Bookings.com, and others.
During the booking process, the prospective client calls the landlord to ask some questions about specifics like: what furniture is included, the accessories like dishes, linens, pillows, the utilities and if they are included in the price of the rent or paid separate, etc.
The landlord also shares the rules that govern living in their property and the inventory list. This is a list of every item in the apartment and the condition they are in. It will typically include things as important and pricey as the sofa set, bed, fridge and TV, but also mundane items like forks and toilet brushes. The inventory list helps the landlord to keep track of all the furnishings and items in the home, so that if you damage or lose any during your stay, you pay for its repair or replacement.
Rules and regulations
Different landlords have different sets of rules that govern one’s stay in the apartment. To get the picture of what kind of rules landlords set for their tenants, here are a few general rules from Airbnb:
• No Smoking: Smoking is strictly prohibited inside the apartment. Guests who wish to smoke must do so outside in designated smoking areas.
• No Parties or Events: Parties and large gatherings are not allowed in the apartment. Only registered guests are permitted to stay overnight.
• Quiet Hours: Guests are expected to respect the peace and privacy of neighbors. Quiet hours should be observed from 10 PM to 8 AM.
• No Pets: Unless otherwise specified, pets are not allowed in the apartment. Guests found with pets without prior approval will be subject to additional fees.
• Maximum Occupancy: The maximum number of guests allowed to stay in the apartment is [insert number]. Any additional guests must be approved in advance and may incur additional charges.
• Respect for Property: Guests are responsible for maintaining the cleanliness and good condition of the apartment. Any damages or excessive mess caused by guests will be charged accordingly.
Pay attention to this
The client is expected to read the inventory list and the rules of the apartment thoroughly. Experts advise that one should carefully review and understand the terms and conditions of the rental agreement. Pay attention to the rental period, rent amount, security deposit, any additional fees, and the notice period for termination.
Abbas Rasheed, one of the industry experts we talked to advises that before you enter the apartment, you’ll need to take a tour and look at everything, failure of which may result in you paying for damages that you didn’t cause.
“On top of counting items such as towels, coffee mugs and bed sheets, pay attention and look for scratches, dents or damages that may already be presents on the items. Look for damages on the sofa, wobbly legs on furniture, stains on the fabrics, and any broken items. Failure to go over these with the landlord before using the apartment may result in the landlord forcing you to pay for them before you leave,” says Rasheed.
He advises that you inspect the overall condition of the apartment, including the furniture, appliances, fixtures, and general cleanliness.
“Take photos or videos as evidence of any pre-existing damages to avoid being wrongfully charged for them later,” he says.
Rasheed says that you must inquire about amenities like laundry facilities, parking, gym, or pool access, and whether they are included in the rent or require additional fees.
“A client must understand the process for reporting maintenance or repair issues. Before entering, find out from the property manager the response time in case of dysfunction to ensure a comfortable living experience. You must know the security measures at the facilities, such as secure entry systems, surveillance cameras, or on-site security personnel. You should also familiarize yourself with the cancellation policy in case you end up not liking your stay. Determine if there are any penalties or fees associated with early termination. Most importantly, seek out reviews and recommendations from previous tenants or online platforms,” he says.
Offer your house, make money
There an opportunity for those that have an extra house to turn into a furnished apartment. Because prospective clients pick interest in particular apartments based solely on the images and videos they see on the internet, the fancier and sleeker the more attractive.
For example, I visited different furnished apartments in Muyenga, Kololo and Naalya. I found one single-bedroom apartment in Kololo that I later learnt is almost always booked going by the records. Everything was immaculate about this apartment. The colors of the walls were well coordinated with the colors of the furniture and the lighting complimented everything. The furnishing simply looked sleek. The property manager revealed that this is the reason the apartment is always occupied. In the game of hospitality, sleek sales.
“This lady bought a Condo from Hilltop Apartments (Kololo), spend millions in redoing the interior and posted it on Airbnb. The images of her beautiful interior soon started attracting so many clients. Many people are buying condominiums and turning them into furnished apartments for rent because it is very good business,” the property manager said.
Other than buying a condo for this business, is it wise to flip one of your houses and upgrade it into a furnished apartment? According to experts, it may turn out to be a better source of income compared to the traditional way.
“People are looking for places where they can have total privacy as they wind down, and hotels won’t cut it for them. Make sure to use high quality furniture and fixtures, get a good property manager and your house may give you better rental income that you ever thouyght possible,” says Natasha Letaru, an administrator at an apartment block in Nakasero.
The pricing in furnished apartments tends to be based on a 24-hour period and not monthly. Prices differ depending on the neighborhood of the apartment, the quality of the building, the quality of the fixtures, the type of furniture and the number of bedrooms.
A single-bedroom furnished apartment in Kololo costs Usd80 (Shs303,000) to Usd100(Shs379,000) for a 24 hour stay while the same in Naalya is about Usd40 (Shs141,000) to Usd60 (Shs222,000) and Usd70 (Shs 267,000) in Muyenga.
A two bedroom in Naalya goes for usd90 to usd110 (Shs417,000) while a three-bedroom goes USd130 (Shs490,000) to Usd140 (Shs531,000). Prices are the highest in places like Nakasero and Kololo, with some single-bedroom apartments go as high as Usd150 (Ush570,000) a night.
While the bookings for the season are on the rise, experts say they are slower than usual. Many say they have been underwhelmed. This is good news if you are intending to book because they are still available.
This weekend’s winners for the Plascon Paint and Win promotion that has been going on for the past 10 weeks include; Ronald Musinguzi, Balya Stint Hardware, from Mbarara, Karim Kizibu Kamagu, Framera Enterprises LTD, from Nakasero, Steven Kiyingi, Siva General Hardware, from Nakasero, Lamek Sempaka, Agaliawamu Hardware, from Masaka and Kennedy Lwebuga, Siva General Hardware, from Nakasero.