Landlord Tips Other Websites Won’t Give You

The other day I received a newsletter in my email account from a landlord website which covered a pretty generic list of “Landlord Tips” While the list was quite useful, it was also a regurgitated version of every other “tips for landlords” article already published on every other landlord blog/portal. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve written and published the same regurgitated nonsense somewhere on my blog. However, I dare not find it, because I’ll probably reduce myself into a wheezing cringe-fit and choke on my own talented tongue. That probably sounds like new realms of pleasures for some of you, but that’s just another reason not to dig up the past.

I can’t remember which website sent the newsletter because I’ve subscribed to about a million, and they generally all look and smell the same to me (colourless and dog shit, with a few exceptions, of course). I’m not discrediting any of those websites, because they’re most likely way more informative and useful than my petulant archive of rants, but there are so many of them- and that’s all I’m really saying. In their defence, most popular landlord blogs/portals have a degree of responsibility to remain diplomatic and professional because they’re representing a company. I, on the other hand, don’t have a need or reason to be either of those things, so I have the advantage of being able to freestyle on the mic. “Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3, your mum’s has a limp knob.” See?

Most of the “Landlord Tips” lists contain the usual spiel on Tenancy Agreements, Energy Performance Certificates, Tenancy Security Deposits, , Landlord Insurance etc. Yada, yada, yada! All useful and vital tips, but it’s nothing new, and most of the lists tend to lack the tips which will actually make a landlord a better landlord, both practically and psychologically. Due to my realisation, I’ve decided to compile my own creepy and repugnant list of landlord tips- the one’s which aren’t usually disclosed (but are just as useful in my humble opinion).

1] Don’t be a pussy

Be a fair landlord, but don’t be a pussy and get pushed around like a chump. I’ve learnt the hard way that there’s a lot of pushing, elbowing and blind-sided cheap-shots in this industry. It can get ugly, and it often does.

When I first became a landlord I was naively timid and futile; you could pierce my skin with a used tampon that’s lost it’s structural integrity due to the female biological cycle. In hindsight, if I was the landlord I am today when I first started out, I would be a lot better off. I wouldn’t condone anyone to be a thick-skinned, insensitive, irrational piece of crap, but I do believe in a happy-medium.

Most experienced landlords are stern and tight-fisted by nurture (or nature, you decide), but a lot of them are timid and pathetic at the early stages of the cycle. That’s an extremely vulnerable state to be caught in because some tenants can be overly demanding, and if you’re not strong enough to put your foot down when appropriate, you end up buckling under pressure and adhering to all kinds of unnecessary and crazy requests. A lot of the times landlords buckle because they’re unfamiliar with the law, so they just “do it” out of fear. This kind of behaviour has a spiral affect, because once an over-demanding tenant becomes aware of your weak-spot, they will attack the same spot every time, and then try their luck in other areas.

This is relevant to many situations, but the most common is the handling of late rental payments and compensating for unnecessary fixtures. By all means, allow tenants to make a late payment if they’re having a difficult month. However, DO NOT allow them to get into habit of making late payments- be stern and signify that it cannot be a regular occurrence, and always follow up on arrears so the tenant doesn’t get the impression you’re relaxed about the situation. In regards to the fixtures, I’m referring to tenants asking for unnecessary fixtures, like replacing curtain rails, just because it doesn’t match their butt-ugly curtains.

Those were two scenarios were just examples, but it’s generally important to remain firm and play fair.

This may sound like a really weak tip that has very little significance, but I promise you, it’s imperative. Don’t be a pussy.

2] Evicting tenants shouldn’t be the last resort

So many landlords consider the process of Evicting Tenants as a last resort. Oh man, you guys are such silly willies.

Eviction is part of being a landlord, and most long-term landlords will most likely start the process of evicting a tenant at least once in their miserable existence.

If you have a problematic tenant which you have grounds to evict, don’t sit back and hope the issue will get resolved. Prolonging eviction because you believe it’s the “last resort” can be more expensive and complicated than actually using a professional eviction service. Eviction is an extremely normal and common practise in this industry, so don’t hesitate to do it when necessary.

3] Serve notice if you don’t like your tenant

If for whatever petty reason your tenant gets on your vieny little tits, don’t be scared to legally terminate the tenancy agreement by serving them with a Section 21 form.

A tenant/landlord agreement is a professional relationship; both parties should feel comfortable with in the relationship. However, like with all types of relationships, some times it just doesn’t workout, and that’s just a part of life. It’s also usually the case that if you don’t like your tenant, the feeling is mutual, and chemistry like that is just asking for trouble. Get rid.

Remember, as the landlord, you have the right to decide who lives in your property.

I know I’m a lot happier and relaxed when I have tenants I actually like in my properties.

4] Be responsive to your tenants

Every time I see my tenant’s name flashing on my mobile screen, my heart sinks to my toes, and being responsive is literally the last thing I want to do. Why? Because in the history of mankind, even when Homosapians rented caves, tenants have NEVER had a reason to contact their landlord bearing good news. They literally have no reason to call their landlord unless it’s to report a broken appliance or give notice. Let’s face it, it’s usually a bollocks, self-inflicted problem, like their fat-arse blocked the toilet. That’s a sad fact of landlord reality.

Albeit, I pick up the phone and get shit sorted (pun-intended) ASAP every time. While no landlord wants to deal with broken appliances, it’s our responsibility, and ignoring our responsibilities can lead to expenses far greater than fixing an appliance e.g. legal battles.

5] Don’t make up your own bullshit laws

A prime example of this practise is when landlords believe they can write any clause they wish into a Tenancy Agreement and assume it automatically becomes binding by law if the tenant signs the agreement. I actually wish that were true, because if it were, I’d be accepting rent in the form of sex. I’d also be subjecting my tenants to various other nasty party-tricks. Sadly, it’s not true, but I’m thinking about starting a petition to overthrow this nonsense law.

But for now, tenants and landlords have a funny thing called “statutory rights”, which even Tenancy Agreements can’t overrule.

If you want to add your own clauses to your Tenancy Agreement (which can be perfectly legal and normal), make sure it’s actually enforceable by law. For advice, speak to a solicitor.

6] Stick to your end of the deal, even if your tenant is a prick

With good reason, I’ve genuinely despised a few of my ex-tenants in the past. There’s probably going to be a time when you also hate one of yours. Unfortunately, it’s another one of those ‘orrible elements which comes with the job.

I remember years ago when I was practically harbouring a cold-blooded criminal. This tenant was claiming Housing Benefit but still managed to fall into 2 months arrears. God knows what she was doing with the money, but I suspect it was being pumped into her veins through a needle (which oddly enough, I wanted to jam into her eye-sockets). Either way, even though she was failing to stick to her end of the bargain, I still kept to mine (as much as it killed me).

Unbelievably, she had the audacity to contact me while she was in arrears to inform me that she was having issues with the heating. I assume a lot of landlords in my situation would have naturally laughed and told her to go choke on her dealer’s shriveled-up cocaine penis. I wanted to, I really did. Unfortunately, I resolved her heating problem as quickly and efficiently as I would have with any one of my other paying tenants.

The saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right” couldn’t explain my reasoning any better, and that’s exactly how the law will see it. If your tenant is in breach of contract, the law WILL support you and justice will prevail. However, as soon as you become a vigilante by taking the law into your own grubbly little mitts, you’ll inevitably lose your credibility and your case. I don’t agree with that, but that’s just how it is.

Stick to the right side of the law, even if your tenant doesn’t.

7] You’re going to get a shitty tenant

Every long-term landlord that has a medium-to-high tenant turnover is eventually going to end up with a bullshit tenant that will make their life miserable(r). It doesn’t matter if you’re the most thorough landlord on the planet that uses 22 carrot referencing services with pink ribbons wrapped around them- the odds are still against you to maintain a immaculate record. And, if you have an active sex-life like myself, you should also accept that you’ll probably end up catching chlamydia at some point. I’ve also accepted that.

This isn’t really a tip, it’s just something every landlord should accept when entering into this business. And when it happens, just keep your cool and act responsibly. Don’t feel hard done-by, and don’t keep asking yourself, “why me”- it happens to the best of us, and even to those better than you.

9] No one will care for your property as much as you do

Be under no illusion, no letting agent or tenant will care about your property as much as you do. If they give you the impression they do/will, pay no mind. I’ve heard so many protective tenants say, “I’m looking for a property I can call a home, so I can treat it like my own” It could be true, but it’s probably not, and it’s safer and better practise to assume that will never be the case.

Your letting agent isn’t going to stay awake at night if your tenant falls into arrears. Your tenant won’t stay awake at night if there’s a leak in your property.

Again, not really a tip, just something to bear in mind. Manage your expectations; be realistic. Why would anyone care about your property more than you? If it doesn’t make sense…

10] Letting Agents don’t always know best

Letting agents should be the expert in the field and consequently know the industry like the back of their hand. The sad reality is, not all of them do, and even when they do, they don’t always act like they do.

Example; the other day I received an email from a tenant that said the following:

I rent a flat through a letting agency and I want to contact the landlord because I don’t like how the letting agent is dealing with my enquiries, but the agent won’t give me the landlords contact details. Can I do anything about this??

I’m not entirely sure if the letting agency in question knew this or not, but by law, they HAVE to provide a tenant with a contact address for the landlord.

That’s just one small example, but hopefully you catch my drift. Letting agents don’t always know best, even though they often act like they do.

If something doesn’t sound right (or even if it does), always double check with other experts/professionals in the field.

Anyone else got anything to add to the list? HIT ME WITH IT!

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11 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
David 4th April, 2012 @ 09:33

11]

A little bit of investment goes a long way.

If you're going to buy something for, or do something to your property, do it properly and not on the cheap.

Example: A £500 bed is going to last a damn sight longer than a paper-thin £250 one.

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Guest Avatar
CAH177 4th April, 2012 @ 15:58

I have learnt that you can't assume that people/tenants have more than one brain cell;

Call from tenant - "Excuse Miss Landlady, my heating is broken, it's winter and im cold"

Me - "ok no probs darlin have you tried X, Y and Z with no joy"?

Tenant - "Yes Miss Landlady, tried all and still not working"

Me - "Ok, im abroad tanning my ass so ill get an engineer out to help you asap"

2 hours later....

Gas bloke - "Alright treacle, been to your property and thats gonna be a £60 call out charge for me to turn the thermostat dial up for your tenant"
(However my charm and sexy telephone voice meant that I didn't have to pay)

Moral of the story = do a thorough check in OR don't go on holiday during boiler 'breaking' season.

I take full responsibility for this fuck up and urge everyone else to not be a stupid as me or my tenant.

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Guest Avatar
Smithy 5th April, 2012 @ 08:44

Don't trust your agent. I know of two houses which were being used as cannabis farms. In both cases the agent was supposed to be doing routine condition surveys - and was charging the landlord accordingly.

And if you don't use an agent, make sure you do your own condition survey.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 7th April, 2012 @ 22:07

Great tips, guys. Much appreciated. I agree with all of them :)

@CAH177,
Firstly, that's a bloody expensive call-out charge!
Secondly, did the guy really call you "treacle"? Pretty cringy, if he did ha.
Thirdly, I'm not convinced you should be blamed for what happened. It's like failing to check if the TV is plugged into the socket when it's not switching on.

A tenants stupidity should never be underestimated!

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Guest Avatar
CAH177 8th April, 2012 @ 14:49

@LL
Yeh I suppose I do kinda get bummed over the charge but it's hard to find a contractor you trust these days. The fact that they waved the charge re-confirms to me that they're alright. We'll see...
Treacle, love, sweetie, sugar tits - cringy yes but I can take it for free stuff. That sounds wrong a bit, true though haha!
Thanks for the vote of confidence regarding the stupidity. I have a student house too and I show them how to use the microwave, shower, fridge etc because some students can be less knowledgeable than the average toddler. I just assumed the average tenant had infact experienced a thermostat dial, WRONG! Never assume unless you like getting shafted.

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YesAdam 11th April, 2012 @ 16:46

Great Advice, agree with all. "Be responsive" is a good one I always THANK tenants for calling me no matter what it is regarding, then when they are late with rent and don't call. I always make a point that they HAVE NOT notified me it was going to be late. Therefore imposing the fine, etc..

Then no10.. You forgot that I always know best. Trust me I know.

On that matter you are incorrect on No10. Tenant does not have to know the residential address of Landlord. They only need to know "an address at which to serve notice on the landlord" what is that address? The letting agents business address.

In theory Letting Agent will pass on letters/notices addressed to Landlord. I'd win this argument in any tribunal/court.

Other Tips:
- Letters are cheap and help in Court.
- Never ask "WHY" rent is late, ask "WHEN" it is expected (note responce).
- Make detailed records of Visits, Calls on Eviction Day - Court loves this.
- Ask tenants signature when repairs done, no more "Judge, Landlord does not do repairs."

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GERRARD MCKENNA 14th April, 2012 @ 06:37

EXCELLENT site, just had a nightmare situation with a tenant, only a novice landlord. COST me a small fortune in rent arrears & too finally evict. Some very good pointers for the future. Will constantly check this site for more useful tips & updates.

Good Landlord.

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Guest Avatar
andrewa 15th April, 2012 @ 21:16

Charge about 10% below the market price for your property and that your property is the nicest available for the price, that way you get to pick and choose from LOTS of prospective tenants.

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Guest Avatar
andrewa 15th April, 2012 @ 21:18

@cah177

My sympathies. I once had a tenant with a masters degree in statistics who did not know how to reset an earth leakage circuit breaker. Cost R350 for the electricians call out as I was in the UK at the time!

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Guest Avatar
Wallace 19th April, 2012 @ 13:10

These are very handy tips. I will certainly make use of them when renting out my property in a month's time.

I agree with David - a little investment does go a long way. I bought a repossessed property on auction for less than its market value, fixed it up and am going to rent it out.

Seems like I have some descent people moving in there *touch wood*. Hope they will look after the place

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Guest Avatar
Paul Barrett 10th April, 2013 @ 01:47

Yes I'll give you one; check every 3 months the status of the council tax occupants for your property.
The CT dept won't tell you.
All you do is say I am the LL and I wish to confirm the status of the occupant/s who should be.............................
If you get silence the other end followed by; no that is not who we have down here, you know your tenant is trying to pull a fast one.
They may have even put the CT bill in your name.
they will advise who is on the register and you just insist the tenants on the AST go back on the register.
Also ensure that before a tenant signs an AST they sign a copy of the electoral roll which YOU send off.
If they decline to sign then you refuse to take them on as a tenant.

Periodically it is worth phoning the utility companies to ensure bills have not been put back in your name.
I have used these techniques and sussed out fraudster tenantS.
Eventually they were evicted!

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