Ok, so being a landlord is hardly a profession which requires a degree or other formal qualifications. We’re not going to save lives with our medical expertise or improve the world with great engineering feats. However, every day, in our small world, we deal with good tenants, clever tenants, unbelievably daft tenants and downright manipulative, difficult tenants.
Being a landlord and letting agent is a 24/7 profession – you can turn the phone off or not look at your email, but your customers are human and your product can fail or leak outside of the 9-5, Monday to Friday. This blog was set up as a form of personal therapy to let off steam and encourage would be HMO landlords to think twice. Faithful to its origin, here’s a rant of the week so far: Continue reading
The phone rings late one night last week. It’s Erica, sobbing hysterically down the phone in broken English that her new husband, Harry, had been taken into custody and she didn’t know what to do.
Harry and Erica married last month; she’s Polish in her late thirties and he’s Indian in his mid twenties. She swears to me it’s mad, impulsive, passionate love and he just smiles and nods in agreement. They’re hard working, quiet, pleasant and an asset to the house and, quite frankly, anyone who can put up with binge drinking Tom and not moan to me about it, becomes a star tenant.
The story goes that Harry and two friends had been walking down the street that night. On spotting a police car, they pulled their hoodies over their heads and dashed into Ladbrokes. The police watched as the men wandered Continue reading
I’ve been reviewing the blog recently and decided that, after seven years, I am no longer a Novice Landlady. Having said that, I’m not an expert in HMO legislation either – I’ll leave the ever changing rules to solicitors such as David Smith of Anthony Gold solicitors and local authorities who are paid far more than I to translate all the finer points. Thank you to everyone on Twitter who consider me to be more well versed in this area and I’m just grateful we have a great HMO council department who trust me to do the right thing within the boundaries of the aforesaid legislation.
So, do I carry on with the blog as a journal, bringing you my tenant stories interspersed hopefully with a few nuggets of useful tips and information or do I make it more of an educational “How to run an HMO”? Readers are very kind with their comments and often ask questions such as where they should invest, what yields I achieve and the finer details of how to make their venture into HMOs a profitable one. I’m only one of many thousands of landlords (many of whom are making far more profit than me) and enjoy bringing the realities of the coalface to any new investor who thinks it’s all about yield. Having said that, for a hefty fee, I’ll happily come out and show you how to set one up and interview tenants!!
If you’re looking to chew the fat and debate the pros and cons of property investment, I heartily recommend Property Tribes, The Property Hub and Property 118 where you can connect with property people nationwide. They are all online to give you their opinion and benefit of their experience but it’s no substitute for getting down and dirty and throwing yourself into the practicalities of BTL. These sites weren’t around when I started and desktop research had little to offer. As with Channel 4’s Undercover Boss, there’s no better way to understand your business’ strengths and weaknesses than experiencing all aspects of the work for yourself. Once you know what makes your property profitable, then you can hand it over to a letting agent if you like.
With the acquisition of a new computer, I’ve decided to better systemise my business by creating tenant records and scanning in all their documentation then storing it somewhere between earth and Heaven. At present, I often begin conversations with tenants “Remind me, when we last spoke….” or scrolling through texts to find out exactly the terminology one tenant used to slag off another. In the same way that Miranda Hart promised herself to become a “new me” by power walking wherever she goes, drink fresh juice and eat homemade muffins, I aim to stop carrying around my tenant’s emotional baggage and rifling through Tenant Information Forms for email addresses that the cat’s been sleeping on.
However, it won’t be complete detachment. Saturday morning rent collections (so few want them now) allow me to
- Be shouted at by a Morroccan Rastafarian who couldn’t wash his dreadlocks properly because the shower was underperforming and he thought I was limiting the water output to save money,
- Witness Tom’s attempt to drink himself to death after borrowing money for “rent” from a family member
- Be given 70% proof orange liquid by some the Portuguese sisters/lesbians at 10am and
- Try to assist a pedantic long term tenant who says he’s living with damp, when all I can find is a small brown stain on the ceiling 20 feet away and he won’t give me permission to send in a decorator. He wants fifty quid “for materials” to do the work himself.
If you’re new to investing and have already bought and read my book, I can now recommend Property Geeks new book Beyond The Bricks which is available to preorder. It’s hot on the heels of his immensely successful first book “Property Investment For Beginners”. With all the above knowledge available at your fingertips, now is the time for you to jump feet first into Buy To Let. (Just don’t ask me to point you in the direction of the next hot investment location!)