Landlord Life: The Horrific Reality Of Maintenance Costs

Someone whip out a box of Kleenex, a pot of petroleum jelly and the violins already! I’ve had a freakin’ nightmare.

I’ve just endured an extremely painful and traumatic week, so please bear with me while I projectile vomit last week’s Filet-o-Fish over my keyboard and nervously gather together enough mental strength to share my bullshit week with you.

I’m feeling reluctant to relive my nightmares, but I know sharing will help the greater good, so I’m half-prepared and slightly honoured to do this. While a freakishly small handful of you may learn one or two rudimentary pieces of wisdom, history dictates that the vast majority of you will be calmed and joyed by my woes, and use them as a vessel to elevate your own soulless existence. Glad to be of service. Assholes.

I’m sorry. I’m just bitter right now. So bitter.

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog post about what prospective landlords should know before becoming a Landlord, which some of you may remember. I essentially listed a few pitfalls of being a landlord and also dismissed a few common misconceptions about the catastrophically unglamourous profession we naively thought was the golden ticket to a lifestyle rapper’s are accustom to. The joke’s on us. I’m still aggressively collecting Tesco clubcard points and making full use of every coupon I can get my mitts on.

If my droning is going to highlight anything today, it’s how real and painful those pitfalls and misconceptions are, specifically how being a landlord is NOT a get rich scheme, and is NOT a comparatively good way of generating passive income, and how it involves unexpectedly having to spend a buttload of cash. The latter is always the most painful, the unexpected costs (which can often go way beyond the typical costs of being a landlord)- they sting like genital warts being drowned in balsamic vinegar!

Typically, prospective/new landlords and outsiders always assume that being a landlord is a sure-fire way of making easy money. The magic formula is usually simplified down to buying a house and finding some brain-dead sucker to pay the rent. Sounds orgasmic, doesn’t it? That’s because that picture is nothing more than a buffoon’s wet-dream, where the houses we invest in are made from steel and the tenant’s we harbour are made of cotton. Back in the the real world, where I’m still scratching around dark alleys for a living and dealing with real idiots people, my properties take a beating and are like blackholes, sucking in money for fun.

Buyer beware…

Landlord Myth

This week I’ve been hit with some hefty unforeseen expenses. I’m not talking about replacing a door hinge that got dislodged by some snot-faced kid recklessly running riot, nor am I talking about the services of Dyno-Rod (which I’m told are extortionate) to unclog an almighty shit-log my tenant gave birth to after a piss-up and a rotten curry. I’m talking about replacing an entire kitchen, installing a new boiler, and replacing an oven- all in the space of a week- all unbudgeted for and unexpected. Someone may as well have walked into me with an erection while I was preoccupied with tying my shoelaces.

I’m not even convinced I should be writing this horrific blog post from home, because I’m not sure I can even afford the juice required to power up my computer anymore. I’ve pretty much blown most of my annual profit and hemorrhaged through my personal money-jar that is notoriously reserved for Vegas and low-grade strippers that cost pennies.

Someone lend me a fiver!

The broken Boiler

First to pack up, die and sink its teeth into my ‘stripper fund’ and generally ruin my seedy life was the boiler.

My tenant reported the boiler to be working intermittently- sometimes it would on cue, other times it took hours before it became responsive. The problem sounded expensive from the outset- I knew straight away my profit margin was about to get a beat down because I’ve had problems with this particular tin-can before. Last time it cost me £300 to repair. If my memory serves me correctly, I had to replace a circuit board or something as equally uninteresting.

I eventually got three different plumbers on the case because the first one that took a gander recommended a replacement boiler to cure the problem. Before I succumbed to his abrupt recommendation and took his soul-destroying £2.8k quote seriously, I wanted more opinions. Firstly, I wanted to ensure the boiler did legitimately need replacing. Secondly, I wanted to ensure his quote wasn’t some cowboy figure he extracted from a dark hole that housed his hemorrhoids.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the first thing about boilers, but I know they aren’t cheap to repair or replace. I also know I’m legally obligated to ensure it’s working. What a terrible combination- expensive and required. A bit like breast-implants, am I right ladies? Right.

The whole diagnose process was slightly comical because it mirrored a cheesy scene from an American sitcom. It was a classic case of being bombarded with technical jargon that would have been better wasted on a mentally impaired donkey. “Oh dear, this doesn’t look good, sir. The left shizteingburg has taken a turn for the worst, and the left hatchet that supports the dingle-berry seems to be covered in unicorn dust. I recommend replacing the entire unit”

Yeah, right, mate! That’s what I suspected.

Fortunately, despite my total ignorance, the general consensus between all three plumbers was that the boiler needed replacing, because it was a 15+ year old heat-only “Potterton Suprima” boiler, basically an obsolete piece of shit that wasn’t worth more than a stick of gum. Consequently, fixing the rusty pile of junk would have been like trying to polish a prehistoric fossilized turd. But that’s really when the real confusion begun, because I was then given different advice on which replacement boiler to opt for. That was so fun I almost pissed my pants with excitement.

They all suggested changing to a combination (combi) system, because they generally save on time and costs in the long-run as there’s no requirement for a tank anymore, meaning a smaller margin for error and less pipe work. However, two of the plumbers suggested getting a Potterton 24w Combi boiler. The other plumber recommended going with a “top grade” boiler, a 28w Worcester Bosch, because it was more reliable and came with a 7 year warranty (and apparently very good customer service). Of course, neither of those brands meant anything to me, much like the watt capacity. Don’t Bosch manufacture power drills and leaf-blowers?

I played Devil’s advocate and informed all three plumbers about the varying advice I had received. The two plumbers’ that recommended installing the Potterton both said the Worcester Bosch is probably too high grade for a BTL property, and I’d only be paying over the odds to resolve my problem, therefore the Potterton was still a reliable choice.

After umm’ing and arghh’ing, annoying other people for advice and Googling around for enlightenment, I opted to go balls-deep by getting the Worcester combi. My primary reason was simple: I want an easy landlord life and a good way of achieving that goal is by focusing on durability. I wanted a product that is most likely to give me the least amount of hassle. Here’s a more in-depth post on my tips on decorating/renovation a BTL property.

After a bit of haggling and whittling down a few quotes, I ended up with a £2,450 bill, all in. That was for all parts and labour, which included the removal of the old redundant water tank (which combi boilers don’t require) and a power flush. I don’t even know what a power flush is, sounds like the machine equivalent of a colonoscopy. Am I right? Well, whatever. Something definitely got flushed the crap out of and I paid for it.

I’m sure every Tom, Dick and Harry will have an opinion on the choice I made. I’m sure many of you in “the know” will say I made the wrong choice with the Worcester Bosch. But I’m guessing that would have happened any which way. Life.

In any case, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as long as you don’t get too technical and bore the living shit out of me.

The ugly Kitchen

This is the part of the story-telling moment where my cold heart may cease up and bury me into the ground. This is the culprit that really sunk me, and it’s the reason I may end up in ‘Butlins Bognor Regis’ this summer for my holiday, queuing up by the bar in fancy dress during happy hour with some 50yr old skank.

The boiler was actually the catalyst of my spending spree. God damn that rusty piece-of-shit!! When the tenant first reported the broken boiler, I scoped out the clapped out monstrosity for myself to ensure their greasy fingers didn’t trigger a bogus setting that caused the intermittent behaviour. The boiler and control panel are both situated in the kitchen, so while I was sniffing around the broken appliance, I was reminded of how terribly depressing the surrounding four walls and its confinement were. Mind you, the rest of the house is fabulous, so it stuck out like a sore thumb.

I had redecorated the property in-between tenants a few years ago, before the current tenants moved in, and I remember noting to myself that it was probably the last time I could get away with “touching up” this decaying cesspit before it needs burning down to the ground. The units weren’t in great shape, the doors were barely hanging on, and everything generally looked outdated. Of course, that was two years ago, so it looked even more of a shambles now. What a hell hole.

In all honesty, I could have shown a blind eye to the situation and left the kitchen stewing away until it withered into a death trap and didn’t have an ounze of life left. At this point in time it wasn’t a deal-breaker for my tenants and it was still safe to use. However, I knew it wasn’t an issue I could avoid for too much longer. On that basis, and knowing it would be much cheaper and easier to replace the kitchen while the property is occupied with good tenants, I felt compelled to think long-term profit, so I bit the bullet.

I received 4 quotes, the most competitive and appealing being approximately 4k. Ouch!

Ordering the kitchen alone was another ‘shoot-my-brains out moment’ because the prices varied so drastically, from 3.5k – 11k, and every slick sales representative (all disguised as a kitchen fitter) I spoke to implied that all kitchens are different and the parts they personally use are the best (well of course!) so I should be cautious with my decision. It was kind of cute, because they really made an effort to brainwash me into believing they actually gave a flying-crap about the value I was receiving.

I could literally write an entire post on the gloomy and unfunny process I went through to pick a kitchen, but even I’m not sick and twisted enough to do that to you. I’d rather remain low-key and partially civil by using genital wart related metaphors.

In any case, there went Vegas and sweet Mercedes (my favourite stripper that can unfasten a bottle cap in between her silicone breasts. Until we meet again, my friend).

The pathetic Oven

They say bad news comes in 3. Whoever “they” are got it annoyingly right. From this day on I hate them with a passion, because this feels like some voodoo self-fulfilling prophecy garbage.

3 days after the boiler was reported to be broken the tenant hesitantly contacted me saying the oven had gone into melt-down mode.

Fuck my life.

The symptoms consisted of an extremely loud and uncomfortable clonking noise when the fan starts spinning. The oven was about 5 years old and it would have cost about £80 to repair. It didn’t make economical sense to repair the legless heap that had failed me (for the last time!), because I could upgrade the whole thing for £250. Once again, no point polishing a turd.

I ordered a new one from Curry’s the same day, which arrived 2 days later. The installation fee would have cost me £40, but fortunately I was able to wangle my plumber into fitting it for free while he fitted the boiler.

That pretty much sums up my horrifically expensive week. I’m approximately 7k down, which is a pretty disheartening sum for a relatively small time landlord that tries his best to live a lavish lifestyle with peanuts.

Seriously, someone lend me a fiver.

The Takeaways

1) Have a contingency

The primary point: unexpected sky-high costs are always going to occur in this business, and they’ll probably make you want to blow your maggot brains out. What makes the situation particularly dangerous is that they’re extremely difficult to budget for- one year you might get away with replacing a disgustingly stained toilet seat, the next year you could be dealing with a roof that’s caving in. The only certainty is that items will break and need repairing or replacing. Continuously.

Always have a means of accessing enough capital to deal with the small and the gut-wrenching.

Don’t make the fatal mistake of just cashing out every month and blowing away your profits. I’ve been down that bumpy cobbled road before. Granted, it was fun while it lasted, and I’ve probably fathered several bastard children along the way, but ultimately it didn’t really do my business or health any good.

Treat this business like any other business by relying on a sensible cashflow, which includes emergency funds. Cashflow is key.

2) Quotes, opinions and advice

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but it needs to be said to make this list dummy proof.

Get quotes and opinions, as many as you can, especially when it involves a significant amount of money. I have a “go-to” plumber I’ve been using for years and I’d trust him with my left nut, but I still got additional quotes because so much money was on the line. It’s business.

At this point, I’d like to give a massive homo-erotic shout out to Jools (a regular reader and contributor to the blog). During my mist of confusion about which boiler to opt for, I reached out on Twitter for thoughts/advice. I don’t know what I was thinking, but my haste paid off. Jools, my Knight in shining armour, was quick off the mark to provide a helping hand.

Jools went above and beyond to help me, although I’m sure he had an ulterior motive which involved a tub of vaseline, whipped cream and a leather whip. In any case, after exchanging a couple of tweets, it was apparent he had knowledge and experience with boilers. He eventually dangled his technical support phone number in my face, like a cheap busty hooker flashing her business card. Needless to say, I was quick to take advantage.

Soon after, I surprisingly found myself on the receiving end of an angelic voice that had nothing to offer but seductive and extremely practical advice. After our conversation, he then did his own research on costs and sent them over to me. Amazing.

That seriously is above and beyond, but like I said, he clearly had a smutty ulterior motive. Either way, I’m truly appreciative of his help (thank you, Sir). I imagine his touch to be just as gentle as his calming voice. One day I hope to make love to him in a room which is warmed by the very same boiler, as my way of saying thank you in the poetically right way.

Reach out to people for advice, especially when you feel out of your depth, it can prove to be invaluable, and you might be surprised by how far people are willing to go to help their fellow man. And if you’re luckier than I am, you may even receive aid from a kind soul that won’t expect you to parade around like an oiled up piece of meat in exchange.

3) Negotiate

Don’t be scared to negotiate.

I always feel uncomfortable negotiating; my eyeballs usually start dripping with sweat whenever I start talking numbers. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get. In reality, most tradesmen expect and are accustom to negotiating. Rarely do they get the initial asking price or even expect it. so don’t be a pussy.

After an uncomfortable back and forth that lasted for approximately 30 seconds- which felt like a lifetime- I managed to save £200 on the boiler.

4) Gas Safe Registered

By law, all gas work in a residential property located in England & Wales must be facilitated by a gas safe registered.

Before I allowed the plumber to undergo any work, I checked his Gas Safe Register ID card.

5) Letting agents

I’m convinced about this one point, although I appreciate I may have a battle on my hands to convince everyone. Bring it.

If all this had gone wrong while the property was managed by a letting agent, I’m convinced the situation would have been intolerable. Someone would have died. Painfully.

I’m pretty sure the entire process would have taken me twice as long to resolve, and possibly a lot more expensive (if I blindly used an agent’s recommended traders). There’s no way a letting agent would have been able to manage my dilemmas without getting me involved, so I probably would have died of frustration with having to deal with a middle-man and then potentially getting caught in a game of Chinese Whispers. Dealing directly with these issues is just so much easier.

It’s a point all landlords should bear in mind when they opt for using letting agents to manage their properties.

6) Don’t ignore warranties

I’ve scattered this valuable piece of advice around my blog in various places, although I can’t remember where for the life of me. But I’m sure I have.

Most people naturally ignore warranties and laugh at the option to extend them. However, they shouldn’t. YOU shouldn’t. I regularly pay for extended warranties when it makes sense.

Put a value on warranties, because they can save you a buttload, especially when it comes to expensive items like boilers and cookers, which typically get good use and are particularly prone to malfunction through usage.

The Worcester Bosch boiler came with a 7 year warranty (I didn’t pay any extra for that), while the Potterton came with a 5 year warranty. That extra 2 year warranty was one of the reasons that swung it for me, because it actually has real value.

7) Landlord maintenance insurance

“Home rescue” insurance policies are becoming increasingly popular with landlords, particularly for the boiler cover (because a broken boiler can be a right pain in the ass). They ooze convenience. We all enjoy convenience, right?

You may have seen British Gas heavily market their landlord packages on TV, where you pay a monthly amount for 24/7 cover on gas and electrical repairs. The general idea is that they’ll send an engineer out with in 24 hours.

If you’re a proud owner of a modern property with top of the range reliable products, this may not make sense. But if you’re forever shelling out on maintenance fees, or want the reassurance of knowing you won’t have to go through the agonising pain of having to tracking down a local plumber/electrician to quickly resolve a problem… this could be the solution for you.

More information available on the Landlord Maintenance & Home Cover Insurance page.

8) Think long-term

While I’ve pretty much flushed away the majority of my profit down the shitter for the year, I realise I’ll recoup my money going forward. This stands true from two perspectives. Firstly, I replaced the boiler with a workhorse which should cost me less in repairs and maintenance. Secondly, I’ve invested in my current and future tenants’ comfort, that’s a sure way of retaining and attracting good tenants.

Think long-term!

9) Fix what needs to be fixed

Being cheap and neglecting repairs is a false economy. It may keep money in your pocket today and provide for fun-filled weekend frolics, but it will cost you more in the long-run.

If something needs fixing, just do it, especially if you have good tenants, because you don’t want them to be vacating because of your neglectfulness.

10) Repair Vs Replace

While repairing a broken appliance may be the cheapest option in the short-term, it’s not always the cheapest option in the long-run. Consider whether something is actually worth repairing before splurging.

In my case, I made the decision to replace the 5yr old oven, because as said, it didn’t make economic sense to repair an item for £80 when I could replace it for £250. The new oven is most likely going to last me a longer than the older-repaired predecessor and cost me less to maintain.

11) Go for reliability when necessary

When we’re talking about BTL properties it’s easy to go for cheap and cheerful, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Trust me, I’ve fitted nasty tack in my properties before; appliances I wouldn’t even allow with in 200 yards of my own home. However, there’s a time and a place to invest in the cheapest and shittest imported products on ebay, and it’s definitely not a rule you should live and die by as a Landlord.

I paid more than I needed to on the boiler because I opted for reliability. I did so because it’s my legal responsibility to ensure the boiler is safe and in working order, so it’s one of those items which makes sense to invest in. I probably wouldn’t have been so vigorous with a kitchen sink, for example.

12) It’s cheaper to maintain tenanted properties

I didn’t need to replace the kitchen, it wasn’t my legal obligation- it was still safe and functional, but it was decaying and it did look like a total shit-pitt from the 80’s. I knew there wasn’t much life left in the old girl. I’m sure it was already in negotiations with the devil. It was a ticking time-bomb.

It’s almost always cheaper to do renovation work while the property is occupied, as opposed to waiting until the property is vacant. By waiting, you could potentially slowdown the entire tenant finding process and unnecessarily have a vacant property. This especially applies true to kitchens, because they’re often a selling point.

Usually, tenants are more than happy to accommodate maintenance work because they’ll benefit from a nicer living environment. The added bonus is that the tenant can monitor the progress and allow entry for the tradesman, so we don’t have to dick around driving back and forth to the property. Also, it’s easier to justify rent increases if you actually do a good job maintaining the property. Now, there’s a handsome thought, which I know will give every landlord a reason to ejaculate if their hideous partner isn’t up to the job.

13) Non VAT registered labour

The plumber I used wasn’t VAT registered, so that’s why his overall cost was significantly cheaper than the other quotes I received. Essentially, that means his company doesn’t turnover more than £79,000 (or something around that mark), at which point he would need to mandatorily register for VAT and pass on the additional 20% fee to his customers.

A lot of people assume that non VAT registered companies are a cause for concern because they’re not reputable or large. I think that’s a common misconception. Many small companies purposely avoid registering for VAT so they can keep their prices low, and that isn’t always a reflection on their ability or level of service. It’s also worth noting any company can register for VAT, so it doesn’t mean they’re a large and reputable outfit.

Of course, none of this is applicable if your properties are managed by a VAT registered company, in which case you can claim back the VAT.

Perhaps something to think about.

14) Get a receipt

Remember to get a receipt for last penny spent, that way you can offset it against your tax bill. I should get a decent tax break after offsetting the mother-bitching receipts I’ve accumulated this week.

15) Value your tenants

If you’ve got good tenants, treat them like good tenants. A terribly simple concept that evidently confuses many landlords.

This is another sentiment I have plastered all over my blog in several articles, so I don’t want to sound like a broken record- but I will, because it’s important. Investing money in the comfort of good tenants and providing them with reasons not to vacate is A LOT cheaper than being a neglectful and cheap landlord. Firstly, you’ll have a higher tenant-turnover, which is notoriously expensive because it opens up vacant periods, advertising and decorating costs, but also, as previously said, good landlords stand a better chance to attract good tenants. A bad tenant is bad business.

Well, there you have it. What a bloody expensive week. I’m amazed I live to tell the tale, because despite popular belief, I’m as mortal as every other tightfisted landlord that can’t think of anything worse than blowing a load of money to increase the level of comfort for tenants. Landlords frequently drop dead from heart attacks from participating in such bullshit.

All being said and done, I am alive, I’m healthy, and in all honesty, I’m happier knowing I spent the money where it needed to be spent. Landlord life.

What’s the most you’ve unexpectedly been hit with, and tell me how much it hurt so I can feel better about myself? I love you all! xo

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63 Comments- join the conversation...

Showing 13 - 63 comments (out of 63)
Guest Avatar
Frances 6th March, 2015 @ 10:17

fyi - I'm a female landlord and I LOVE your blog. Don't go changing.

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Guest Avatar
Mandy Thomson 6th March, 2015 @ 10:35

Brilliant blog as ever and the irreverent twist makes it all the more readible - what works with a personal blog wouldn't necessarily work with a news article, for example. Landlording is a serious business,
but a little more humour really wouldn't go amiss on other landlord sites as well - it's a healthy way to let off steam.

Being a landlord can be extremely fraught and stressful - I went through a phase where I had very little maintenance funds and sods law, also had a load of serious repair issues crop up at the same time (as well as a tax demand) - several leaks from my tenants' bathroom that brought down the ceiling in the kitchen in the flat below (needn't have come to that save for downstairs tenant being away and not very communicative, and let and run owner/landlord...), then the shower fuse went (£300), then there was a serious condensation/penetrating damp issue in another property that has so far cost more than £1,200, coupled with roofing and rendering needed in the first property...

I at least learned a lesson from the fusebox issue - I've taken out landlords home maintenance insurance, which has so far saved me £300.

To make it worse, I've been twice ripped off by incompetent builders - one supplied by my (then) letting agent, that I foolishly paid to manage the property. I really don't understand the point of why letting agents take on maintenance - they are unable to help with the cost - could they not offer the landlord credit terms to pay off maintenance costs - and the one I had didn't even have reliable contractors. What is it they do that I can't do myself, if all it involves is ringing up or emailing tradesmen?

Where replacement kitchens are concerned (I'm fortunate insofar as I've never had to replace a whole kitchen in a rental yet), another landlord recommended Howdens - he said he got a kitchen for around £1000. We're replacing the kitchen in our residential property soon, and are planning to keep most of the units and use replacement doors and work surfaces; not much of a saving on the materials side from what I can see, though certainly makes a DIY job easier.

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Ryan 6th March, 2015 @ 11:16

Jesus H Christ 2.5K for just the boiler!? I had a whole CH system installed for that! And I have just been quoted 1.5k for the tops of the range worcester boiler. I think you've been had mate and that 1k would've certainly kept Mercedes sweet a little longer :)

As for the kitchen, fuck a duck, is it gold plated??? B&Q do a price match and you could get a full kitchen for around 2K and should not be paying anymore than 1k to fit.

Thats 2k you would have been as well using to wipe your arse with and flushing down the pan! Do you not have Joiner's and plumbers you use regularly and trust. Don't get me wrong plumbers are absolute chancing bastards and a reasonably priced one is hard to come by but if you find one then lock him in a cupboard for future use :)

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Nige 6th March, 2015 @ 11:19

@Mandy
Yep why do repairs suddenly come at a time you can least afford them. Years ago my x went and I was left with zero working capital. Funnily enough (not very funny at the time) every property suddenly developed major probs ranging from boilers to an attached outhouse parting company with the house. Then one property vacated and vandals (later caught but not charged) dis £7000 worth of damage whilst we redecorated.
Oh happy days.

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Guest Avatar
Nige 6th March, 2015 @ 11:27

@ Ryan
Depends where you live. Ive heard of £250 for stopping a dripping toilet overflow. Now I use trusted 'me' for repairs or very trusted guys who I am very thankfull for. Yep they charged £1300inc for new boiler in 4 bed detached with 7 year warranty. £160 for pump in a combi caused by stupid tenant contstantly refusing to top up. FREE yes free for pressing a reset button .My mercedes still being polished and probably going to be sold to someone else.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 6th March, 2015 @ 11:47

@Matty

Thanks for the kind words, glad you liked the article.

Personally, I think 15-20% is fine, but I always ensure I have "access" to more, in case anything unexpectedly big comes along. Like it did in my case.

Realistically, that 15% per month isn't going to get consumed every month, so you'll get a nice build up. That build up is ALWAYS useful to help contribute to any bigger issues in case you can't cover it all. Makes it so much easier to digest!

@Sarah
I know A LOT of landlords have signed up to the "landlord homecare" packages, but I honestly can't say if it's worth it or not. Perhaps someone else might be able to provide some insight. I personally don't buy into them- I really don't get enough problems to warrant it, in my opinion.

I think it largely depends on the property itself (i.e. age) and of what grade quality the fitted appliances are. If you rarely have problems, it might not be worth it. But some landlords like that sense of security. Sorry I couldn't give you a more concise answer.

Love hearing about landlords having the courage to go alone!! Thanks Sarah :)

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 6th March, 2015 @ 12:04

@Nige
Ha, another classic Nige rant! Love it! You have a story relatable to every situation!

@Frances
Many thanks Frances :)

@Mandy
Thanks Mandy (as always!!)

Sods law is a b*tch!!

Out of curiosity, who have you got your "landlords home maintenance insurance" policy with and what does it cover?

Totally agree with the letting agent rant & maintenance. It's hard to believe it would be in the agents best interest to get the best deal for landlords when it comes to handling repairs & maintenance. How many quotes will they actually get? Most agents will also put a service fee on top! It just works out so expensive.

Howdens is always recommended- that's where I got my kitchen from. It's also worth noting I had to get a new sink, worktop, and extractor, and the kitchen was relatively big, so it all added up.

Unfortunately, the carcasses were in terrible condition, so the whole kitchen had to be gutted. But previously, I saved a buttload by only replacing just the kitchen doors (I used hotdoors.co.uk). I spent like £500 and the entire kitchen was transformed! I highly recommend everyone to assess their carcasses before mindlessly replacing them- they're usually the most expensive parts. In many cases, you can transform a kitchen by changing the unit doors, painting the walls and applying nice flooring!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 6th March, 2015 @ 12:13

@Ryan

Ha, all tradesman are generally chancing bastards!

Like Nige said, it does depend on location. The property is located on the outskirts of North London.

But having said that, I did get 3 quotes, one of which was from a long-time family plumber, and even his quote was more expensive even though he was offering a lower grade boiler than the one I opted for (but he charges VAT).

Bear in mind, it wasn't just a straight swap, they had to replace the conventional boiler to a combi, so it involved a bit of work. They were there for 2 days. The power flush was also a couple of hundred alone. If I replaced the boiler now, to another combi, it would cost me like £800.

Not sure if all that was taken into consideration. If it was, well f*ck me sideways, I got royally screwed! :/

I found that B&Q and Homebase and all the other big suppliers were the most expensive for kitchens! Their quotes were ridiculous! Also, as I said to Mandy, the kitchen is quite big, and I did have to replace the sink, extractor, worktop and the wall tiles.

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Mandy Thomson 6th March, 2015 @ 12:57

@landlord

Thanks for the tips on replacement kitchens!

I've got combined landlord's cover with homeserve.com. This is a summary of my cover from my policy:
Examples of claims covered
3 Repair leaking pipes or joints
3 Repair water leaks from central heating pipes and radiator valves
3 Repair a non flushing toilet
3 Clear a blocked sink, toilet or waste pipe
3 Repairs to washing machine and dishwasher flexible pipes
3 Repairs to dripping or seized taps
3 Repairs to stop escapes of water from internal domestic tank or toilet
overflows
3 Repairing a blocked or leaking internal drainage pipe
3 Repair leaking soil vent pipe
Claims limit
– Up to £4,000 per claim
– No limit to the number of claims
Response
– If your incident is an emergency (including internal leaks which cannot be
controlled), your claim will be given priority, otherwise an appointment will
be made

And this is what ISN'T covered:

a) frozen pipes which have not resulted in a leak or permanent blockage;
b) showers including the shower unit, controls, outlet or shower head;
c) domestic appliances;
d) replacement of sanitary ware (e.g. basins and toilet bowls);
e) the replacement of a tap (unless necessary as part of a repair);
f) any costs of water lost during a leak;
g) quietening noisy pipes that are caused by the expansion and contraction
of pipes as they heat and cool.

I had a call from my tenant on a Saturday afternoon - there was an issue with the boiler. They sent their engineer the next morning (Sunday). It wasn't a serious issue, but with another plumber I most probably would have had to pay a call out charge. They also repaired the leaks I mentioned earlier and replaced the bath taps - all for £99 - before I ever took out a policy.

Other policies, such as Landlord Appliance Protection Ltd cover white goods - I believe up to 5 years old. I believe there are also policies that will cover both appliances and emergencies not covered by normal home insurance.

Insurance companies are obviously exploiting a gap in the market - I would hope that at least larger letting agents will soon follow suit and offer payment terms for expensive maintenance that insurance can't cover.

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Nige 6th March, 2015 @ 13:06

@Landlord
Its been well worth my while getting a friend who has been employed in the property business for 25 years to do my inspections. The tenants don't know that I know her though.
She goes in with a camera. Not being a 'sod' I give fair warning and all suddenly rush down the supermarket and clean place up.

She says it how it is though. Classic is the carpet. Yes I agreed to a new one . What the tenant doesn't realise is that whilst I may get tax relief thats only 20 odd percent. The rest comes from MY pocket (or holiday fund).

I'm not smug when I say the next bit.
My tenants are stuck with me. Due to my tenancies being older ones and limited to annual increases in the agreement my rents are £25-£50 lower than next doors. With new council house rules tightening up (thank god) the possibilities of them doing moonlights or failing to pay rents has diminished. Funnily enough this translates to them looking after properties better.
They know that they will not get another place as agents rents are much higher.
It has stopped the doors or radiators mysteriously falling off or the light fitting crashing onto the dining room table without breaking a single glass shade !!
Sad thing is that I have probably got the most responsible tenants I have ever had but my portfolio must be sold.I am delaying this as I know its going to cause problems but so does my tax bill !!

The ''oops its not my fault'' syndrome has been replaced with a more responsible attitude which in turn has lead to better kept properties and improvements rather than repairs.

I don't know if other landlords have suffered the illision tenants have. They think that you get all the rent to drink beer. Yes I understand that they pay £*** in rent and expect £*** in value. But they forget a landlord has costs and any profit is then subject to government taking a chunk. The grapevine says the sort of average return is 6% net so on a £600 rent the landlord clears £36 !!! Wow !!!

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Emma6 6th March, 2015 @ 13:08

Seriously, dude, you should have contacted me!

My properties get through boilers like other people get through clean underwear. It's ridiculous. I've done both the repair route and the replace route and they are both silly amounts of hassle. I had to learn basic boiler construction for the repair route, because some plumbers said the part didn't exist, most demanded I find the part number because they couldn't because it isn't made any more, and two said that, even after i had found said part number and bought the part, that they wouldn't fit a part that had been bought over the internet at all(!). I now know more about diverter valves than any one non-qualified human should ever have to absorb.

FWIW, I think you were right to go with the Worcester Bosch. I had a new one fitted earlier this year, and not long after, it keeled over. The plumber must have come back four or five times before it was properly bedded in, and getting all those return visits for free was worth every extra penny.

One point all landlords should bear in mind is that several issues that will be attributed to the boiler and ergo allegedly cost 2.5k to put right, are, if you can actually find someone honest enough to explain it to you, actually down the water pressure coming off the mains, which, unless you are sleeping with someone high up in a utility company, is never going to be fixable.

One of my tenants was complaining that the hot water kept cutting in and out. I was told the boiler had had it and needed replacing 3k. Turned out they were using two showers at the same time (which a combi is never going to be able to cope well with - learn to stagger!) and the water PRESSURE coming into the boiler was not powerful enough to cope so the system kept cycling down and up again. I hope this wasn't your problem, because a new boiler will make absolutely not one jot of difference if it is.

Mind you, the EIGHT vans from the water company currently parked up in the next turning might be a clue that the water pressure may soon improve. Who knows?

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Mandy Thomson 6th March, 2015 @ 14:07

@Nige

I have so far only ever let 1 bed flats in London that attract young professionals - all my tenants are excellent and great people - I've never had willful or negligent damage made by any tenant and when there is a maintenance issue they've been nothing but co-operative and understanding. However, I realise that not every landlord is so lucky - sometimes you might have a property that only attracts less responsible tenants, and indeed this may well be me with my next property, as I'm most likely going to have to look outside the SE!

What I'm saying is I hear so many new landlords asking what they should buy with so much deposit and what the yield will be, whereas I say that like with any business the customer (in this case the tenant) needs to come first - what sort of customer are you aiming for?

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Helen 6th March, 2015 @ 14:38

Here is one non-alienated female reader. Love the humour.
I think you did the right thing going for a Worcester. One of our landlords is a heating engineer and he will only use Worcester in his own properties. That says it all really.
Um - Kitchen does sound rather expensive. I regularly renovate properties in my spare time and can get all units plus sink, oven, hob and hood for 1-1.5k, plus fitting about 1k.That does not include tiling, flooring etc.
Landlord maintenance insurance - until recently I would have said 'don't bother', but recently some of our landlords have fallen for the British Gas Homecare advertising and I have to say that British Gas have been easy to contact, turned up very promptly, dealt with the repairs very efficiently and most important, not tried to weasel out, by saying some things are not covered. The cost seems to vary emormously, depending how much is covered. It varies from just the boiler to virtually everthing in the house.
Hmm - agents recommended contractors are a rip-off? I guess it depends on your agent. We only use local tradesmen, who we would use ourselves and who price reasonably. In fact I have found some of our contractors from my own house renovating. Perhaps it is the difference between using independant agents and the multi-national ones. We don't add anything to the bill -are we missing a trick? I thought that was what the management fee was for.

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Mia 6th March, 2015 @ 15:17

I am a female landlord, and I always enjoy your posts. The humor really helps lighten my own landlord woes. Your directness is SO refreshing and welcome. Keep it up. :)

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Nige 6th March, 2015 @ 15:39

@Mandy
Interesingly enough a report has come out saying that return per £1 invested in my area is 102% better than investing in another area !!
Due to media press coverage the area I invested in was dragged down. FFS I live in that area which is spacious, parks, easy access to routes in all directions. Even my old property manager who lived 20 miles away who moved here bought a large house here to live in !!
Result most of my propeties were turned down by the snobish types who refused to live this end of town. I therefore rented houses through the council schemes and achieved the same rents for houses (all around 30 years old) as I did on others in the right areas costing 100% to 200% more. Until the localisation act the councils could not choose their own rules to deny evicted errant tenants.
''New' areas take time to settle and that is what is happening. My capital return on sales...ie purchase price to sell price is actually greater on my properties than at the right end of town as prices have started to equalise. Unfortunately my portfolio is shinking as I am retired (joke as I am still working) so its a bit late for me.
Now that house prices are recovering my capital growth has been a minimum of 400% in 16 years.Rental rates only doubled. Not bad as I only went into rental by accident.

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Jools 6th March, 2015 @ 16:11

oh god, what have I created lol. Keep the vas but for a wetsuit and a tub of swarfega I'm your man, man......

Sara, I used to use British Gas home are on all
my properties until after one repair/service the engineer failed to seat the burner box correctly and carbon monoxide leaked into the property. Only picked up when gas safety inspection done and my usual gas bloke spotted a CO tell tale was black. The fact the stupid tenants had removed the batts from the CO detector because they thought it was faulty when it was going off and saying "there is a CO leak you fecking morons" is another matter........

British Gas it seemed were not overly bothered by this so I dumped them. My advice, stick £50 a month into another account and that's your boiler repair fund.....

Glad I could help Landlord and keep up the bitchjng and whinging and dreaming about my angelic voice. You will be bitterly disappointed with the rest lol.

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Nige 6th March, 2015 @ 16:28

I know all countries have different policies /ideas about renting . In Switzerland for example properties are built with the very highest standard/quality of fitting.Often fitted to last/ survive a generation.
I believe in Germany properties are long term rented and must be handed back regardless of term in same immaculate condition.
Another interesting point is photos in estate agents windows state the yearly running costs which is something tenants and owners tend to forget especially if they are young.
(I will be corrected if wrong on these points)

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Graham 6th March, 2015 @ 18:06

I agree it sounds expensive. Imo you'd have been better sourcing the boiler direct from Selco or suchlike then asking plumbers their day rate.

Also worth noting is the old copper tank would have been worth c£100 scrap.

I appreciate London prices are generally higher but so are the rents so it's all relative. Eg I'm in Nottingham where yields are higher but rates much lower, relatively speaking I suspect a new boiler would eat into more of my profit.

Anyways, nice blog... Just discovered. Am in the process of procuring my first btl so hope to stick around.

Cheers

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sam 6th March, 2015 @ 18:52

Eeek!! Feel your pain.

I won't bore you with my woes, but it's been a bad start to the year maintenance wise.

So true re: chinese whispers and letting agents. A great letting agent is great, but not a patch on a pro-active landlord. Well done young sir, your stripper account may be hemorrhaging but you'll be able to afford the knee replacement surgery in the future :)

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Carole 7th March, 2015 @ 02:06

Very funny indeed.I enjoy.Not really sexist.I have guys willingly stripping for me on a regular basis.I get left with some horrendous feature wallpapers.Yes I too would like to hear opinions on the homecare package.I tend to take a sledgehammer to a nut by fitting new "anything" i.e.boilers etc to minimise call outs by my trusted plumber and installer.The boiler guarantee lengths are a factor in choice.The boiler/thermostat/appliance manuals tend to irritatingly disappear on changeovers.

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Jools 7th March, 2015 @ 08:52

Once we had looked into the breakdown of the costs involved ie new boiler, removal of system tank, alteration of pipework, power flush, fitting of Magnaclean, thermostat, labour of two men for two days, commissioning, chemicals etc the price was reasonable, esp for North London and on an urgent basis IMHO. If he had not negotiated the £200 discount then that would have been a piss take but it just shows the importance of doing your homework on what tradesmen charge for a day rate and then working out if the hourly rate looks reasonable.

If it had been a combi to combi swap then it should have been around £1200 (obviously depending on type and cost of boiler).

Agreed if he had weighed in the cylinder and the associated removed copper he could have recouped another £100 or so but it all depends on how easy it was to get the stuff to the scrappy.

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The Landlord 7th March, 2015 @ 14:40

@Mandy
Thank you very, very much for that! I'm going to look into policy more and see if it's worth my while, even if I only cover my most historically prone properties.

@Nige
"The grapevine says the sort of average return is 6% net so on a £600 rent the landlord clears £36"

And that's why all landlords are rich!

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The Landlord 7th March, 2015 @ 14:53

@Emma6!!!!

DUDETTE! I had no idea you were a walking, talking boiler! Sounds like you've had your head in more boilers than I've had hot dinners. Anyways, I now know for future reference.

Boilers truly are silly amounts of hassle no matter what the problem, small or big! The main hassle, especially for landlords, is that an issue NEEDS to be resolved ASAP! That added element of urgency just makes everything seem more stressful.

Glad you approve of the Worcester Bosch. The plumber actually made a point of saying that their customer care is outstanding, which was comforting to know. But then again, should I be concerned it took them so many times to bed it properly?

Regarding the hot water cutting out, I don't think it was the issue you mentioned, because the property only has one bathroom. Also, it didn't have a combi before, just the conventional system.

The plumbers (all 3 of them) said it could be anything, especially since they couldn't replicate the problem when they were testing the boiler. Incidentally, they all said a power flush and/or a new circuit board would probably fix it, but it's such an old system, to invest that much into it wouldn't have made sense. Also, they couldn't guarantee how long those fixes would hold out for before some other cog else keels over.

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The Landlord 7th March, 2015 @ 15:13

@Helen
Thanks H!!! Appreciate it.

Once again, reassuring to hear Worcester was a good choice.

Sounds like I may have paid over the odds for the kitchen, that seems to be the general consensus anyways.

Where do you source your units/doors from? Local suppliers? What the kitchen fitters did live by, was the fact that all units massively differ in quality, even when you're buying mid-range units- and that's why I could have spent a lot less. Would you say that's true, or would you say it's all generally the same product(s) rebranded?

I'd say you're definitely in the minority of agents that don't add a premium. Please don't change or learn any new tricks :)

"Perhaps it is the difference between using independant agents and the multi-national ones. I thought that was what the management fee was for." - I agree completely!!

I used to use an agent that would add all maintenance work onto my monthly bill (they would take it automatically by DD), but they NEVER actually showed me the receipt for the maintenance work, and it always seemed way too expensive. Fishy!!

@Mia
Thanks Mia, appreciate your comment, and I'm glad it's been helpful :)

@Graham
Yeah, Jools did advise me about scrapping in the old copper and tank. I did enquire with the plumber about it, but the amount of hassle it would have been to trade it in didn't seem worth it to me. Even the plumber said it was a lot of hassle- he doesn't even bother scrapping it himself. He knows "a guy" that will pick it up for free and get rid of it. I don't know how much of that was true, but he seemed like he was being honest. I didn't want the added stress on my shoulders in any case.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if I paid too much, and if I did, I don't think it would have been that much. Jools breaks the costs nicely (comment #33), which may or may not make it seem a little more justified. We did compare prices, and it seemed "about right"

Thanks for your comment Graham, and all the best for your first purchase!!

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M Dunne 7th March, 2015 @ 15:14

Just wondered how your tenants managed without a kitchen for the week or whatever it took to be replaced? Did you have to do some sort of deal with them?

I ask because your advice about doing it while they're still there is excellent!

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Nige 7th March, 2015 @ 15:16

If you really want to have boiling blood then this will !!
Some tenants were entitled to a free new energy efficient boiler ..YES free..zilch..nothing..no cost.
It depended on claiming some benefit or another.
A real bonus for a landlord as it also meant no gascheck for a year.
I supplied all info to help my tenants who I knew fitted all the criteria to apply for one .The landlord could not make the application. How many actually applied and got one. ONE . The rest couldn't be bothered to apply yet it was to their benefit as cheaper to run !!!
A free Mars bar to anyone who can guess who moaned the loudest when the boiler stopped working.(besides me)

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The Landlord 7th March, 2015 @ 15:29

@Sam
Perhaps morbid and entirely selfish, but I'm glad to be sinking in the same ship with you, makes the situation more bearable!

And never feel shy about venting or sharing your woes, it's what we all generally do around here!

@Carole
"I have guys willingly stripping for me on a regular basis" - hmmm... you sound incredible. Pic?

Ha, manuals ALWAYS go missing- that's pretty standard. Either they go missing or they've been decimated and covered in all kinds of "unknown" fluids and stains. But NEVER have I had a boiler and/or thermostat go missing. WTF? Also, pretty odd someone would take a thermostat on its own (did that happen, or did they always take both boiler and thermostat to make a cute set?).

@Jools
You pretty much hit the nail on the head about everything you said, especially the urgent nature! Also, you were totally right about the effort of getting that stuff scrapped- it was just wasn't worth it.

I think the overall price was about right (based on everything you just said)... despite what all these mean people are saying :)

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mandy thomson 7th March, 2015 @ 15:39

@Nige

Exactly. A property can be in a really nice area, and/or be a really desirable property, but still won't rent easily. Rental markets are complex, more so than buyers markets. I have been successful with tenants only because I have one bed flats within easy access of Central London - friends of mine who tried to let 2 bed places in exactly the same area as me had very different luck as their properties were too expensive for young professionals, who naturally don't want to pay extra rent for space they don't need.

@Landlord
You're welcome - I forgot to say my homeserve policy costs £136 a year.

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The Landlord 7th March, 2015 @ 15:42

@M Dunne
Good question.

It took the fitters half a day to gut out the old kitchen, and then 2 days to fit the new one. But my tenants were still able to use the cooker/sink/fridge because none of the appliances were getting moved around. The only time they were kept away was when the floor was tiled, but that was only for a day.

I did explain to the tenants that they might struggle to use the kitchen to its full potential for a few days, but they obviously knew that and they didn't care because they were getting a new kitchen. But also, I think it made a massive difference that my tenants weren't planning to leave any time soon. I don't think they would have been as accommodating, if for example, I gave them notice and then decided to fit the kitchen while they were still in the property. It's kind of like rubbing it in their face.

From my experience, if a tenant is going to benefit from maintenance, they will understand and make arrangements to accommodate.

Whatever the case may be, even if their tenancy is due to come to an end, communicating with the tenants regarding any maintenance work is essential. If you're generally a nice and pleasant landlord, they won't care.

You might be amazed at how accommodating tenants are prepared to be- I've been amazed in the past, both positively and negatively :)

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Jools 7th March, 2015 @ 19:24

Did someone mention strippers?

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CM Burns 8th March, 2015 @ 02:14

My business model involves buying the worst crappest houses in cities in the north of england, renovating (properly) and renting out.

My Potterton Combi's are humming along just fine... theres 5 years warranty on those, but they are two thirds the price of the much lauded worcester jobbies. I always over-spec so the boiler can cope with all the idiot actions of tenants. Saving a few quid by buying some no-name-o boiler is a one way ticket to tenant related unhappiness.

So far, so good, no problems. As I take the renovation hit up front i have properties set up as I like them, with all the bases covered, I know I've done a good job, I'm not inheriting someone else's secondhand pants. Plus tenants just can't resist the smell of fresh paint and newly screwed together Ikea wardrobes.

The return? much closer to 15% than 6%.... btw isn't the 6% return based on the value of the asset, not 6% margin on rent?

As a few of my properties are in the North of England the chances of capital growth are similar to my chances of being ordained, but at my time in life, income is what i need as i too would like to spend time with Mercedes. And Cristal. And Tiffany. And Amber etc.

I have a couple of houses in London but if I were to buy there right now I'd be lucky to get 2-3% before costs currently.

TBH right now Landlords have never had it so good.... 1.75% mortgages, holy cow! I pay less on my mortgages than I do on my Starbucks.

Just to say keep writing the blog as you see fit as its much less crap than other blogs.

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leamhcan 8th March, 2015 @ 07:28

Thought you would be interested to see the wise old owls on HPC are rubbing their jealous little hands with glee on this thread

http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/203609-landlord-life-the-horrific-reality-of-maintenance-costs/

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Nige 8th March, 2015 @ 09:47

@CM
Yep as you say the 6% is on capital asset but thats business. I like you bought property nobody wanted and overhauled.One point Landlords never take into consideration. Their own time and labour. For example I took a property off rental which had been abused and spent the next 4 months refurbishing and my pay was zilch.My friends were happily picking up pay cheques for £2k per month working in cosy environments whilst I huddled over a candle for warmth. I accept this as part of the landlord scenario and my business but effectively put that particular house into negative return for a year plus my lost time.
I fitted Alpha boilers which gave very good service. But can someone tell me why all circuit boards cost as much as a brand new laptop? (no not lapdance in keeping with this thread!!)
Have the people at HPC noticed that the escalation of rent is often caused by falling house prices ?

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CM Burns 8th March, 2015 @ 16:39

@Nige: good point re the time, but then again I guess I have to do something for all my income.

I spend most weekends with the builder trying to get the aforementioned festering accommodation back up to good standards.

Interestingly my best deals have always come from incompetent landlords... makes you think, all you newbies out there.

Weekdays I return reverse-clarke Kent style to being humble step-and-fetchit office drone.

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The Landlord 9th March, 2015 @ 21:17

@CM Burns
That's a good model. Do you buy the crappest houses in the crappest areas, or do you just buy the crappiest houses in a pretty average/good area? I always like the idea of doing the latter!

London prices are insane right now, I can't make the figures stack up!

Yeah, mortgage rates are appealing right now. I was recently looking at re-mortgaging some BTL's on 5 year fixed rates. I don't know whether to get tied in now, or wait a little longer. Do you think rates will drop even more, or is the golden period this decade?

Thanks for the comment!!

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The Landlord 9th March, 2015 @ 21:20

@leamhcan
Thanks for the head's up. It's always uncertain how they'll react when one of my posts are linked on there. It usually develops into a riot. I wish they would just embrace and love me as I do them! :/

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Helen 10th March, 2015 @ 15:38

@The Landlord
Regarding your question about where I source kitchen units and doors, personally I always use B&Q in my renovations, whether for sale or rent. I use the cheapest of the range, currently Cherry Style Modern. I believe that the units are thinner than some others, but this doesn't seem to make a difference to the amount of usage they can stand. I buy from B&Q because they keep the doors and units in stock, so I can buy them instantly, which is important when on a deadline.
A lot of our landlords love 'Howdens' who are a trade only supplier, so you need to buy through your kitchen fitter. Their big advantage is that the units are supplied ready assembled, saving time, money and work.
Regarding quality, I do all the inventories for our agency, so I see a lot of units up close and personal. I honestly do not see a difference between expensive and cheap units. The main problems seem to be caused by moisture, which lifts the laminate edging off the shelves and unit bases or heat from the oven which causes the laminate to lift off the door edges. Otherwise it is due to damage by tenants, which happens whatever the quality. You could use wood doors, but I have seen them warp, due to moisture.
Final note; a really good kitchen fitter is worth their weight in gold! They can make a cheap kitchen look fantastic.

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Adam 10th March, 2015 @ 20:07

Great post!

Just a gotcha that I don't think has been mentioned yet by anyone.

I believe the Worcester bosch warranty is only valid if the boiler is serviced annually, so not just a safety inspection but actual service also.

Worth looking into ;)

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Chris B 11th March, 2015 @ 14:32

The landlord,

I cant believe after 50 comments no one appears to have mentioned LNPG. I think the amount you would have saved as a member with them would have paid back the annual membership just on the Worcester Bosch purchase - which as I want an easy life too (rifling through all manner of Mercedes's & the such like) is a good choice.

If I'm wrong about how good LNPG is, then please someone correct me, otherwise it's a good source of achieving savings for landlords.

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The Landlord 11th March, 2015 @ 15:30

@Helen

Thanks Helen, I will definitely look at B&Q next time.

I completely agree with everything else you said, specifically, I've also noticed that the damage caused is largely by moisture.

@Adam
Thanks Adam, appreciate it.

You're 100% right about the warranty only being valid if the boiler is serviced annually. My plumber said he'll do the service and Gas Safe Check at the same time for £90, so it's not too bad.

@Chris B
Are you a member of LNPG? I take it you've had good savings? To be honest, I came across the website before, but it looks like one of those cheap scammy websites. It looks scary! I just didn't trust it.

If they're legit, they should at least invest in a proper website, especially when their basic annual membership fee is £149+VAT!

I guess I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover though. But then again, I just haven't heard enough about their service either.

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Adam 11th March, 2015 @ 15:43

No problem @The Landlord, I learned that the hard way :(

I can relate to your comments about LNPG. You're right, their website does them no favours. As a web designer by trade, I too find it hard not to judge a company based on their website, after all (like I tell my clients), your website is your shop front, your online presence, a reflection of your company.

However, all I ever hear about LNPG are good things, @Chris B is another positive comment. I have decided to give them a go on my next refurb, I have heard too many good things about them to simply ignore it any longer!

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Chris B 11th March, 2015 @ 16:32

Hi The Landlord,

Yep I am a member - I had I my heard good things and I am doing a refurb.

Yes they are legit, no I have no interest / benefit in promoting them! I have saved quite a bit of money already.

The website is average but they rely on word of mouth as I don't think advertise and they can't advertise the prices that they achieve for their members.

Give them a call.

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Matty 11th March, 2015 @ 16:54

I can vouch for LNPG. I have used them twice and the deals are absolutely incredible!
I have done two kitchens with Magnet through their offers and it comes in about half the TRADE price. I saved over £1k on one kitchen and £1.2k on the latest one.
The members price pays for itself instantly. i would recommend anyone using them if only for the magnet deals.
They also have some other brands like bathrooms.com but those deals arent so good, but £20 off here and there can add up very quickly in a refurb as we are all aware.

Before anyone speculates, i have no affiliation to LNPG, just a happy customer :)

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Benji 11th March, 2015 @ 21:58

I would rather trust a rottweiler with my testicles than a company that uses spam advertising.

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Matty 12th March, 2015 @ 09:03

Where have they used spam advertising?! I have never seen them advertise at all let alone spam advertising! I only found out about LNPG through a fellow landlord.
Trust them or not, i got a kitchen for half price, so who cares, its only money...

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CM Burns 14th March, 2015 @ 18:57

@The Landlord
Re business model, yes I'd prefer better areas unless it puts the actual cost of the property up....

Lets see, I work out of the fine city of liverpool quite a lot so rental in poo-stained Anfield.... £80per week thereabout for shared accommodation for working folk or students. Cost of 6 bedder and refurb, maybe £100k.

Cost of 6 bedder if available in Aigburth or "nice" area closer to £250k when refurbed. Rent.... £80 per week, thereabouts.

Lets see... eeny, meeny, miny moe, catch a tenant by the toe... etc.

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loko 16th March, 2015 @ 16:44

Some advice here (in post & comments) are pure gold. I certainly don't have the same experience in BTL in the UK as the majority in here, but I've experience most of what is being discussed here.

@TheLandLord, Do you look for local gas engineers on www.gassaferegister.co.uk search page? I see you recommend them anyway, but worth noting there is a search facility on the website. I usually find engineers who live very close (last hired lived in same street as btl), and they usually offer competitive rates.

Also negotiating kitchen prices can really make a difference. Last kitchen I'bought with 15 units, (was from Homebase and a mid-price model), the first quote was 8.5k. In the end I've paid 2.4k and also got free a Bosh circular saw. Most stores put a huge mark-up in kitchens. In this case, I've negotiated for 15 min in the day and walked away without buying it. Couple of days later they called me "in desperate mode" saying they could drop the price even further due to special weekend offer (month's end). I went back and negotiated a bit more. Started to complain I needed to have some money left to buy some tools I wanted. The salesman went to the manager and got the circular saw free for me. The saw represented a discount of £30 for them and for me was just free. If I was buying, I would have to pay £99 at the till. Obviously I've quoted the kitchen on other places, and the cheapest elsewhere was 4k.

And for last, I love your comments about letting agents... and I agree with all as per my experience on dealing with them. Yes, there are some exceptions, but they are rare as warm days in the UK.

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The Landlord 16th March, 2015 @ 23:31

@loko

Agreed, the comments have been brilliant!

I've used the search before on gassaferegister.co.uk (other landlords should definitely check it out if they're looking for local gas safe engineers), but I almost ALWAYS throw up a status on Facebook, asking my friends for recommendations, and that's how I usually source my contacts.

Yeah, I was quick to notice the discrepancy between kitchen prices, it's literally insane! I swear it's the same product/service, but people just try to chance it with initial crazy quotes.

I generally always shop around and haggle because there are so many chancers around, and without getting quotes it's difficult to judge who's offering value.

Nice negotiating. Now you have something to chop your tenants up with if they ever fall into arrears :)

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emma6 17th March, 2015 @ 00:03

Just a word of warning for those relying on the Gassaferegister website. I tried to verify whether someone was genuine or not, but could not find them on the site. So I emailed, just to be sure. Turns out they ARE genuine, but CHOOSE TO HIDE THEIR DETAILS on the site for data protection reasons. Now, this struck me as one of the stupidest things I had heard in a very long time, but the woman on the phone kept what sounded like a completely straight face throughout. The website will tell you who WANTS to be seen, but not everyone who is genuinely registered. Don't ask me what point this serves, I have no frigging idea.

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John The Landlord 26th March, 2015 @ 20:01

Boilers: I have my entire portfolio with any boilers out of warranty covered by British Gas Homecare 100. For around £132 per year it covers the boiler for unlimited call outs, parts and labour and they normally come within 24hrs, plus the tenant phones them direct. Been with them for 6 years, no complaints and definitely worth the cover.

Kitchens: Prices vary hugely. Never accept that a particular quote is going to be the cheapest and always haggle between supplies. I have a contract rate with Magnet Trade (buy around 3-4 kitchens a year with them). A nice mid-range kitchen from them with all the bells and whistles, plus appliances cost me around 2.5k. Installation same system as above, my fitter charges 120 per day and normally knocks out a kitchen in 3 days.

Appliances - Get good brands (Bosch and Zannussi are reliable mid-range companies) You buy cheap, you get cheap - integrated appliances are particularly irritating to go wrong! Extended warranties, if reasonable, are worth the extra

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John Driscoll 18th June, 2015 @ 11:46

Hi. regarding your article' boiler replacement. As a retired London Plumbing and heating Contractor. (I sold my Company in 2007) with 40 years experience in the trade, I can assure you that you have made the right decision with regard to installing a Worchester Bosh boiler. I would personally installed a Valliant boiler myself. but both equally as good as each other... A power flush is when the plumber power pumps the years of silt build up in the heating system A requirement of the boiler manufacture's before there guarantee. With regard to cost. A good boiler would cost approx. £900.00. A days work for two good men, (plumber and Mate) at a cost of again approx. £600. Total cost £1500.00 + VAT.

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