The Thought Of Buying Another BTL Makes Me Physically Sick!

I’m currently in the midst of a horrendously tedious 6 hour coach journey from Sharm el-Sheikh to Cairo, crammed in with the locals like a tin of sweaty sardines. I foolishly opted for hitting the open road because I was under the illusion that gazing through the dusty windows would expose me to a side of Egypt that I wouldn’t have ordinarily experienced through the regular touristic channels. I don’t know what I was expecting to see; perhaps herds of wild camels walking through the Sahara desert and/or an ancient Egyptian tribe in the middle of a 5 mile journey to restock their water reserves.

What a pile of shit.

4 hours in, and all I’ve seen is sand (which gets miraculously boring after about 5 minutes, go figure), several security check points, and stacks of rubbish and debris on the side of the roads. Sadly, I don’t expect the journey to get anymore exciting than this.

To add insult to injury, there’s a suffocating scent of stale piss and cabbage that quickly contaminates the communal air every time the toilet door is opened from the lower deck, which then takes the best part of 30 minutes to evaporate. It smells like an old people’s home up in ‘ere.

For Fuck’s sake, I could have gone to Southend and been as equally disappointed. I wish I paid the £50 extra or whatever for the one hour flight. Serves me right for trying to be all culturally-intrigued, I suppose.

Anyways, I’m excited to reach my destination so I can play with the Pyramids of Giza and learn the history of ancient Egypt. Insha’Allah (Arabic for ‘God willing’).

I didn’t plan on blogging while I’m away, because quite frankly, I can think of a million other things I’d rather do while I’m on holiday. However, my options are limited right now and I never anticipating being crammed in this stinking hellhole; I’m almost willing to try anything to distract myself from the whiff of urine. Blogging it is.

I’m done with BTL’s

Recently I’ve been thinking of alternative ways I can invest my money, beyond what I’m already doing (property, shares, worthless savings accounts). I’m thinking of investing in startup companies or joint-ventures. I’m still weighing up my options- but what other options are even available? Anyone got any investment opportunities for me that isn’t utter bullshit? Hit me up!

Anyways, I don’t know whether it’s a phase I’m going through or not, but I’m done with BTL’s. Dealing with one or two properties/tenants is fine, but once you start expanding beyond, each addition becomes increasingly draining (with or without the help of a letting agent). My portfolio is minuscule, but honestly, the thought of buying another BTL makes me want to violently vomit and scratch my skin off with a toothpick.

I know what you’re all thinking; I live such a lavish lifestyle, how dare I bite the hand that has fed me so well for so long? Believe me when I say that 2 butlers, 1 cook and 3 Lambos parked on the driveway isn’t the blueprint for happiness (although, it nearly is).

The Thought Of Buying Another BTL Makes Me Physically Sick!

It probably sounds like I’ve recently been through a traumatic experience with a shit-for-brains tenant that’s zapped away my will to live, but I really haven’t. Nothing has happened. I’m cool.

The best way I can describe my feelings is by saying I feel like I’m at the point where I can’t be arsed to willingly add stress to my life. I know that if I buy a property tomorrow, greater opportunity and reason for stress will enter my life the very same day.

As said, this might be a petulant little phase, we all go through them, but I’ve been feeling like this for a while now. I’m more interested by other opportunities that doesn’t come loaded with so many potential pitfalls. The thing with being a landlord is that a lot can go wrong, and when it does it’s usually 1) excruciatingly expensive to resolve 2) caused by some other idiot, which makes it that much more frustrating 3) out of the landlord’s control and the dynamics of resolving the problem becomes all about waiting. That’s literally a nightmare for someone as impatient, impulsive and particular as myself. I like to be in control, but in reality landlords have very little control of their business.

I don’t really have much of a point beyond the blubbering and futile whimpering, but I do want to quickly make a list of things that is instinctively scaring me away from wanting to invest in more BTL’s right now. Perhaps you might be able to relate to some of my thoughts if you’ve ever been wedged in a similar uninspired position…

  • Dealing with tenants
    I like my current tenants. All of them. They pay rent on time and they treat my properties like homes. I can’t ask for more. But every tenant, good or bad, requires a certain level of maintenance. Just like every customer that walks into a restaurant requires a certain level of service, whether they’re ordering just a soup or whether they’re a high-maintenance greedy-fuck that’s in the mood for a 22-course massacre.

    I’m saying, right now, I can’t even be assed to serve a bowl of soup. I can’t be assed to deal with the bare bones of what’s required of any additional property/tenant, even good tenants. I have no interest. Needless to say, the more properties/tenants I have, the more overall maintenance/service will be required from me.

    I hear about so many landlords that decide it’s not worth the hassle after buying just one property. That’s usually down to misguided expectations- they expect it to be so unbelievably easy. Granted, being a landlord does look so damn easy. But it really isn’t like that.

    While I never gave up so easily, I can totally understand their sentiments. Being a landlord can be emotionally deflating and physically exasperating, especially when you end up with nightmare tenants and then have to abide by the shitty landlord laws.

    All it takes is one bad experience with one donkey tenant to be scarred for life.

  • Slow financial return
    Generally, BTL is a long-term investment- it can literally take a decade until you start tasting the fruits, if not longer.

    The reason I started investing in property was because I wanted to secure my future. “Future” being the operative word. It was never a means of getting filthy rich tomorrow. Essentially, it was part of a deterrent, to prevent my future-self from relying on a exponentially dogshit state-pension and worrying about how I was going to pay the bills and escape the claws of fuel poverty. I’m guessing many landlords got into the game for the same reason.

    I’m confident my pension is taken care of due to my BTL’s, so now I want quicker returns, which I can enjoy before I start sprouting grey hairs from my nutsacks. Old and rich always falls second place to young(ish) and rich.

  • More passive options available
    Some of you may remember that several months ago I wrote a lengthy blog post on What You Should Know Before YOU Become A Landlord– one of main points was that being a landlord is typically NOT a great way of generating passive income, despite popular belief. If you’re entering the game for a quick and easy buck, you’re in for a rude awakening.

    Believe me, if being a landlord was exceptionally passive I would not be feeling like this; I would be ploughing every last penny into BTL’s. In reality, being a landlord really isn’t that passive… or profitable, for that matter.

    Here’s a snippet from that post, just to summerise my sentiments once again:

    When you’re dealing with bastard tenants in rent arrears, spending late nights cleaning thick, congealed shit off the kitchen units with a toothbrush, resolving continuous maintenance issues, and spending long weekends painting and decorating in-between tenancies, you then realise how actively you’re working for every penny, which goes against the very nature of passive income.

    I don’t have products flying off the shelves while I’m sleeping. I have adult-shaped children living in my property that need maintaining and servicing all year round. Being a landlord is a 24/7 gig and your services could be required at any moment.

    There are easier ways of making money than being a landlord. Trust me on that.

  • Responsibility
    I don’t want to be responsible for more people than I already am.

    Like it or not, the moment you become someone’s landlord they start relying on you. They become your child in some respects.

    It’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the tenant has the means to be warm, safe and generally comfortable while they’re in the confinements of their property. That’s one hell of a responsibility and profoundly unrewarding.

    Incidentally, many landlords are total assholes because they don’t actually recognise it’s their responsibility.

  • Spreading bets
    While I still believe investing in BTLs is a awesome way of building financial security (which I still highly endorse), I’m also a avid believer in spreading my bets. That’s why I’d rather diversify my income streams than rely on this one vessel, which often feels like it’s about to clonk out, leave me penniless and make me break down into tears.
  • Increasing costs & red tape
    Being a landlord is becoming increasingly expensive; property prices are crazy and the general operational costs are getting stupid; the figures just aren’t stacking up as well as they used to. Investing in property seems like more of a gamble these days.

    New ridiculous laws are coming into play every day; laws that don’t even serve any practical purpose, they just conveniently line the Government’s pockets with cash- it’s getting tedious and bloody annoying. There’s just too much red tape that’s fucking everyone left, right and centre.

    On a sidenote, did anyone read about that dickhead politician that recently claimed £172 in expenses for a 0.7 mile chauffeur-driven journey? It would have taken the lazy asshole 15 minutes to walk that distance. It’s shit like that we’re ALL having to cover.

    I know the straw that broke the camel’s back for many landlords recently was the introduction of landlord licensing scheme, which is not only a complete joke, but also insanely expensive- potentially setting us back £500 per property. ‘Daylight robbery’ comes to mind.

  • I simply don’t want to.
    The very thought of buying another BTL makes me feel anxious. Literally, right now, thinking about it makes my stomach turn, like it’s about to drop out of my ass.

    Every other point in this list covers the “why”, perhaps subconsciously there are other reasons for why too, and maybe my reasons are total crap to you. But forget the “why” for a moment, the point is I don’t even feel comfortable with the prospect of expanding, it makes me feel sick. Having to deal with more maintenance issues, more red tape, more rent arrears, more tiresome asshole tenants *vomit* *vomit* *vomit* *vomit*

    I’ve gone through a bit of a revelation in the past year or so, and it’s all connected to this point. May I? Cool, thanks…

    I used to make a lot of decisions in life that I wasn’t instinctively happy with, but I’d just tell myself, “what’s the worst that can happen? I should just get on with it and reap the rewards. So what if I catch an STD?”

    But in the last several months I said screw it, I’m only going to participate in what makes me instinctively happy from the offset. Life is too short (sickeningly cliché, I know).

    Personally, I usually remember the journeys more than the destinations because the former usually has a longer duration. So I’d rather make my journeys more positive, even if that means the destination isn’t as [financially] rewarding.

    I want to value more of my “NOW” time. I want to start enjoying more of my journeys, not just my destinations. So yeah, screw everything that doesn’t sit well with my gut instincts. Screw it ALL to hell *shakes fists*

    I’m sure if I invested more into BTLs I could make more money in the long-run, but the trade off isn’t worth it, not for me personally anyways, not right now. But the point is, I know if I purchased another BTL it wouldn’t make me any happier, it would only hinder my quality of life- so really, what’s the point?

    I’m not in the business of telling people what to value in life or how to live life, but I sincerely believe not enough people value their happiness, and consequently end up going through many shitty journeys with a disproportionate reward at the end.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from becoming a landlord or growing their portfolio- you need to do what feels right for you! I love being a landlord and i’ll always encourage people to climb the ladder; it’s a brilliant way of financially securing your future (if done sensibly).

I guess what I’m saying is that I can’t think of anything more gut-wrenching than opening myself up to more landlord related headaches right now. I think it really boils down to the added potential stress/problems that comes with being a landlord for each additional tenant/property. I’ve hit my limit, or at least the amount of potential problems/stress I’m willing to expose myself to. We all have our limits, maybe you haven’t reached yours yet, maybe you have.

I’m not saying I won’t buy another BTL again, I’m saying it’s doubtful I will anytime soon unless I come across a deal that’s too good to be true. Anyone?

Have you ever taken a step back and thought screw BTL (or anything else)? If so, why? Can anyone relate, if even a little? Let’s hear it! xoxo

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71 Comments- join the conversation...

Showing 21 - 71 comments (out of 71)
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Mandy Thomson 30th July, 2015 @ 08:33

@Landlord - I read your blog, then I got this from another beleagured landlord who's involved in the legal campaign against Croydon Council's landord licensing scheme (hearing at Royal Courts of Justice next Tues 4 Aug before LJ Ouseley).

#Landlords in case you're having a bad day: pic.twitter.com/OYrhbWRKFQ— Mandy Thomson (@lodgersite) July 30, 2015

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Dee 30th July, 2015 @ 08:43

Perspective is everything, there is no free lunch, being a landlord sure beats 9-5 on a mind numbing job! You have hit your limits, so get out, but don't discourage others starting on the way up. Seriously speaking there are very little options out there for securing your pension, BTL is still a good bet, what industry will not have to deal with people? mayb a geek in Silicone Valley.

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Jackie 30th July, 2015 @ 08:56

You must be crazy to undertake that journey these days,I used to live in Sharm El Sheikh and did that journey so many time so know how bad it is, the worst was one day when the driver had a mobile phone stuck in both ears as was driving with his knees! Hope you enjoy the Pyramids guessing they are very quiet now so I can't imagine the hassle you will get. Do the safe thing and fly back, that road is so dangerous now for toursits, terrorism is a very real issue in the whole of Egypt, I would not go back.

Oh and if you think your buy to let problems in the UK are a problem spare a thought for those of us that invested in the property boom in Egypt before the Revolution and have lost everything. My BTL problems in the UK pale into insignificance in comparison so I have a much more laid back view, but agree with you its better to stick to just a few properties and diversify into other investments.

BTW I have a legal dispute over a property there its been in the court in Cairo for 7 years now! Even if I win in the end I just get back a lump of concrete, its worthless...who would buy it, maybe a local but I would just get monopoly money..there is little hard currency there now.

Enjoy the rest of you hols, Chill a bit, I still think Egypt is a wonderful country but so sad to see what has happended to it now.

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Veronica 30th July, 2015 @ 09:09

Someone mentions buy commercial properties - when we had to retire due to illness, we decided to let our shop & car-park out. It was highly popular because of the position - the agent advised who best to go for, the guy paid the deposit & 1st months rent, never moved in & never paid another penny. Despite solicitors letters, 10 months later, we were desperate - no income, no shop! The commercial agent suggested changing the locks as he had never moved in - & take repossession, which we did. One month later he took US to court for depriving him of his chance to make an income. The judge saw in his favour & although he forced him to give the property back to us, only awarded us £1 in back rent because we changed the locks. He was also stung for the costs. This all took 14 months - we lost thousands. Now, at full retirement age, we are reluctant landlords again. We have two small buy-to-lets, & to be honest, the moment interest rates rise, they will be on the market. We have had non-payers, sub-letting, a cannabis farm & one tenant complaining she wanted her decking re-staining as it no longer looked new (we did it last year, all 14 cans of it). I hate being a landlord.

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Frances 30th July, 2015 @ 09:14

How about some passive property investment? I know it doesn't help you diversify in the event of the bottom falling out of the property market, but it certainly requires less work from you. I too have been deciding whether to put extra money into another BTL or holiday home, but also have been looking at crowdfund property investment, namely Property Moose - does anyone have any experience with this?

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Andy 30th July, 2015 @ 09:38

Great blogg as usual. I had similar feelings last summer after I had just completed my last BTL property. I was not going to do anymore, I told my wife to shoot me if I mentioned property purchases, I avoided rightmove.......16 months on I have got over it and my property illness has returned....just completed on 2 properties both full refurbs!

In your case I would strongly advise you to value your time more and get a local agent to do everything and become hands off for 12-18 months. Put your rent up a little if you can so you will not be financially stuffed. In this way you can see if you miss property at all or if you are happy to let others manage your properties. If you are in for the long term to gain capital growth for retirement the day to day stuff should just be left to a trusted and good agent.

Hope your holiday is fab!

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 09:42

@Mike
Fortunately none of my properties are in boroughs that are enforcing the landlord licensing scheme- not yet anyways. But this might be of interest: http://www.croydonpropertyforumltd.com/ - it's a petition against the scheme specifically in Croydon! Enfield was already successfully petitioned against!

Thanks for the recommendations! Although, investing in startups might be a little too high-risk for me, but I'll still take a look and see if there's of any interest.

Thanks again!

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 09:46

@Shelly
Many thanks, appreciate it, and I'm pleased you've found the website useful!

@Mandy
Ha, I'm not actually having a bad day, but that did make me smile! Reminds of how Alan Sugar had the opportunity to buy a huge chunk of Microsoft when Bill Gates was looking for investment in the early days! Suckers!

As I already said, hindsight is a b*tch!

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Debby 30th July, 2015 @ 09:58

Poor you sounds like you left it too late to take a holiday! You'll feel better when you get back. Well, touch wood, we are now 3 properties in (all going well) and have just bought a hideaway renovation in France where we can grow old, keep goats, grow tomatoes and be happy about being poor in our old age rather than miserable on zimmer frames trying to keep up with paying council tax living on small pensions and being runover by upworldly mobile millenials in a city pad. BUT as far as alternative investments and commercial properties go - here's a concept we spotted and looked at in the USA (which is where we are working currently to bank the doh to pay for our micro portfolio) ... www.solasalons.com - we didn't go for it but I'd be keen to hear your views on it. Oh, and I got off the corporate ladder and am in non-profit world - you think you have a tough job .... hmmm try saving the planet for a day like we do ... it'll give you that sense of perspective back. S'like turning up to an earthquate with a dustpan and brush! :) enjoy that sunbed.

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lee 30th July, 2015 @ 09:58

All businesses have their difficult times and hurdles. Starting BTL business has been the best thing I ever did. Fortunately I started in the mid 90s- Different ball game starting now. In my mid 30s, it allowed me to pack in my job in financial services, and live 6mths of the year in Thailand. Although it was very challenging and I learnt the hard way that you can't really go away for 6mth of the year and expect things to tick over, so now I do a month on month off. Amazing how many tenants thought they could have a payment holiday when I went on one. You have to be like a Rottweiler with tenants from the start and dont give them an inch. Make sure all your legal docs are in order, and make sure the property is always in tip top condition- and you shouldn't have any great dramas. Yes you will get the odd bad tenant- you just deal with it and move on.

There are even more challenging times ahead, with the changes in the tax system for landlords. Its clear that the government wants us to be landlords via a ltd company. With corporation tax on the way down, that option does look even more logical. And if you can convince the tax man of transferring your business into a LTD one with out the CGT- then its win win.

Landlord- You need to see your doctor, you are indeed a very depressed man. Possibly think of selling this site to someone with a cheerful and positive attitude ! lol

And as for Sharm to Cairo by bus ! WTF??? I did it a few years back, flew in and paid and extra £90 for VIP, was driven everywhere in a E class merc all day- best £90 I have ever spent...I don't thing King Ramasees would have had better treatment .

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 09:59

@Dee
It definitely beats the 9-5 grind. But most landlords aren't full-time landlords, so it only adds to the stress.

Yeah, it really is about perspective, which frequently changes, especially through experience.

My intentions isn't to discourage anyone. I still love being a landlord and I'm glad I'm a landlord- I don't want to "get out", I just don't want to develop further at this point.

I would only encourage others. But I think a lot of people become landlords without knowing the pitfalls, they think it's an easy ride, and then act delusional when things go wrong, so I do try to add elements of the flipside, otherwise I wouldn't be providing a clear picture.

I agree, I personally think BTL is still one of the safest ways to invest money and secure a future, if not the best way. That's why I would never discourage anyone. I guess I'm just like a marathon runner that enjoys running, but competing is getting a bit too stressful on the old joints/bones at this stage. I could come out of retirement, but in the mean time, I'll happily endorse the sport.

Being a landlord is a bit different than most other professions, because it's NOT just about dealing with people (I can deal with that), it's about managing peoples homes, which comes with a lot of responsibility, and you're trusting other people to take care of your investments. It's not like we're serving cake over a counter.

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Lynn 30th July, 2015 @ 10:09

If you have cash just sitting there, I would look into joining a lending circle, I started to look into it then purchased another property instead, but it looked better than it just sitting there.
I only have a couple of properties, I recently had a bad tenant who didn't pay his rent for two months, I had to completely replace the kitchen, whole house was a mess, it made me ill, I filed for possession but they handed the keys back before the date so I intended to go anyway to reclaim my rent at least, I got stuck in some horrendous traffic jam, arrived late and the judge had thrown it out, I waited a further 2 hours as the court operator tried to get me in for a quick word on what to do next but it didn't happen.
The thought of going to court makes me physically sick, I am down about £5k, £1700 of which is rent.
I know where you're coming from, every day I think, you can do this, it's your money, but I am overcome with that sick feeling again the next day.
I feel violated, thankfully my current tenants are great, but I will take forever to recover, infact I can't it's lost.

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 11:07

@Jackie
haha, oddly enough, our driver was also a complete div. During the journey we caught up another coach from the same company. The drivers' clearly knew each other, so they started racing and overtaking one another every 5 minutes. I was genuinely scared for my life. The thing is, the locals didn't bat an eyelid, so no one said anything to driver, but what they were doing was clearly dangerous because the roads were all single lanes!! I was so relieved when we reached our destination.

Even though I did have a return coach journey booked, I caught a plane instead :)

I'm back now, I wrote this blog post a week ago. I had an amazing time in both Cairo and Sharm and I loved soaking up all the history and culture. The resorts in Sharm are particularly beautiful and optimised for relaxing/chilling (which I did plenty of).

I felt safe the entire time, to be honest. It's a bit of a culture shock though. Arabic men shout when they talk and it's a bit startling, but our local guide explained that's how they talk and they're not actually arguing/shouting.

One thing I did notice in Cairo is how there are so many empty/incomplete apartments, it was crazy. Investing over there seems like money down the drain!

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 11:11

@Veronica
Completely sympathise and understand.

When it rains, it pours in this business! And like I said, all it takes some times is one awful experience to make you wonder whether it's worth it. We all have our limits, and we should all recognise the importance of happiness and how it's not always related to money.

Interest rates are a ticking time bomb; I suspect many landlords are going to struggle when they start increasing again!

I hope you enjoy the rest of your retirement in peace!

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 11:19

@Frances
I'm not really keen on the idea of crowdfunding for property investment- I don't think it's for me, personally. It just seems high-risk, and I feel like I would have virtually zero control. I imagine the returns aren't THAT great, and is somewhat similar to buying shares, only with shares I can sell at any point.

Of course, this is all just speculation based on my ignorance. I really know little about crowdfunding and I'm sure the implications are different for whoever you fund with.

I know a friend of mine got stung crowdfunding an offplan development and is currently going through a legal battle.

If you ever do bite the bullet, please let me know how it goes.

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 11:25

@Andy
Thanks Andy!

It's reassuring to hear you had similar thoughts. I think I just need to pursue other opportunities, and who knows, I may do a u-turn and have the urge to invest further in BTLs, like you did. Congrats on the 2 refurbs!

I'm definitely in it for the long-term. If all goes to plan, my mortgages will be paid off in 5-7 years. I don't plan on selling!

Many thanks, appreciate it, holiday was awesome :)

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 11:36

@Debby
I like the idea of investing abroad. Not for holiday lets, but just for enjoyment and perhaps equity growth. I know a few people that have purchased quaint little country houses in France. They look incredible.

I checked out the website, it seems like a franchise model to me. Is that what it basically is? Personally, I know nothing about the beauty industry and it's not really something I'd be interested in, particularly in countries where recession(s) are always being talked of. When money becomes tight, the beauty industry is one of the areas that gets hits the hardest. But maybe I'm just overly cynical...

I hear the non-profit game has just as much corruption and bureaucracy these days!

Many thanks :)

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 11:43

@Lee
Becoming a landlord was also the best business/financial decision I've made. I didn't mean to contradict that notion with this blog post. As said, it's made me a lot more at ease with my future.

I'm not depressed at all. I'm extremely happy in life at the moment, but it's because I'm making more decisions that make me instinctively happy. I'm not just thinking about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I'm also putting a price tag on the journey to the gold.

Lesson learned regarding coach journey. I binned my return coach ticket and jumped on a plane. But I'm glad I did it (even though my body was full of piss fumes afterwards), just for the experience.

I don't think this website would even fetch a fiver ha.

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Marie 30th July, 2015 @ 11:54

To The Landlord: I'm a small-time USA residential landlord in San Francisco, CA, but gaining a deeper comparative appreciation of the entire spectrum of this business by subscribing to your articles & blog. Keep them coming & wishing you success & satisfaction!

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 11:59

@Lynn
Ahh sorry to hear that. Sounds horrific. I completely understand where you are coming from and the feelings you described.

That feeling of anxiety is awful! I remember feeling like that the first time a tenant of mine fell into arrears. I felt helpless and beyond frustrated that someone could be so careless and casual about the whole damn thing. I lost sleep and it was always playing on my mind. However, those situations do get easier to deal with, and with experience you start to learn its part of the business.

I've heard of so many landlords that have become ill due to tenants, mostly due to stress and worry.

Things haven't really been that traumatic for me, I've had a relatively easy ride (*touch wood*), but I guess all I'm doing now is trying to limit how bad things can get for me, because avoiding that sick feeling is worth a lot of money to me.

Likewise, I'm now in a place where I'm completely content with my properties and tenants, that's why I don't see any need to rock the boat, so to speak.

Good luck with your legal woes (assuming it's still going on).

I've looked at those online lending circles before, but the returns didn't seem that appealing to me. I think the high-risk loans gave something like a 8% return. I will have another look though :)

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 12:01

@Marie
I love San Fran! Great place :)

Thanks for the comment, best of luck to you, too!

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Zetita 30th July, 2015 @ 12:30

Probably it's a lot of pressure when you have to pay a mortgage.. I wouldn't use mortgages to buy letting properties in a million years! have you thought about auction properties? I been seeing a lot of those with very interesting returns and cheap enough to let my fear at ease.

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mark 30th July, 2015 @ 12:30

well im an agent of sorts, i just deal with one landlord and 12 properties and i must say i enjoy it i buffer all problems from my land lord so they sit pretty and spend there money whilst i take the problems. isnt that the way it should be????

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The Landlord 30th July, 2015 @ 13:58

@Zetita
Pressures of mortgages payments can be intense when you have a small contingency and tenants fall into arrears. But I've never really been worried about mortgage payments, I always leave enough aside to keep me covered for a while. I get more frustrated by the audacity and lack of communication by those that fall into arrears- that's what gets me. Tenants can turn really nasty when they fall into arrears- they often act like it's the landlords fault. Not all tenants are like that, but many are. It's bizarre.

Yeah, I thought about buying at auction a few times in the past, but again, I don't want to actively increase my portfolio right now, so seeking out a bargain isn't something I wish to pursue. But if a deal just happens to fall onto my lap (which it probably won't), I may show interest.

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lee 30th July, 2015 @ 17:19

The Landlord- It was mean 'tongue in cheek'...I actually like your 'shoot from the hip' blogs.....If I thought you were serious on the fiver, Id take you up on it...lol

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Paul Barrett 30th July, 2015 @ 18:10

I can honestly state that ALL my tenant problems and the devastating effects they had and continue to have were caused by me NOT having RGI on those tenants!!
RGI puts the power back with the LL!
Yes if you have RGI it restricts who may be a tenant
But it can largely solve the issues caused by non-rent paying tenants
RGI WILL boot out such tenants
It will pay the mortgage which is one of the biggest issues for LL with mortgages
With decent LL insurance to cover thefts and damage you should be covered for most of the issues that can financially destroy a LL
For £100 for the first year including FULL RGI qualifiable referencing from a well known website you can cover a multitude of sins
Using the RGI methodology means mostproperty investment is unviable
You need to choose such investments that attract the RGI type of tenant if you want an easy life
There are plenty of them but usually they want property for which the figures just don't stack up
Therefore LL investing who cannot source RGI tenants are taking on massive investment risks
Personally I'd rather receive less in cashflow on a RGI tenant than more on tenant without RGI on them
It doesn't take too long for no rent coming in to wipe out the supposed benefit of the additional cashflow that such a tenant might generate
I can see many LL rationalising their property investments to those that they can source RGI qualified tenants easily for
LL for peace of mind should gravitate to investing in RGI tenants and forget the rest
It is just too distressing and usually uneconomic to house tenants who can't pass RGI checks
LL need to make their lives as easy as possible
RGI to a large extent does this
It is so cheap for £75000 of cover
Works out at about £6.50 pcm!!!!!!!!!

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Thunderballs 31st July, 2015 @ 00:52

You need to hire a smart person like me with plenty of time on their hands and an excellent set of skills.

After some training and ongoing mentoring, I will add a lot of value, if it is there to be had.

No need to be so hands on, and there are exceptional people out there to help if there is genuine opportunity and reward for them too.

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lee 31st July, 2015 @ 09:46

If you're not 'hands on' in your OWN business then it's doomed to fail.......

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Garry and Jo 31st July, 2015 @ 10:05

Hi,

My MD Garry wanted to contact you. Please can you send me your email address or contact details asap. To say you guys sound very similar is an understatement!

Many thanks, Jo.

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The Landlord 31st July, 2015 @ 11:02

@Lee
ha, trust me, you don't want to be the captain of this ship!!

@Paul
RGI is useful, makes life easier. I recommend it, especially when dealing with new tenants. However, even if rent arrears was covered, there are still other responsibilities/stresses that come with being a landlord.

It's the whole 'landlord package' that I don't want more of.

@Thunderballs
What a wonderful pitch! Hired.

Why do you have so much time on your hands? Genuinely curious.

@Garry and Jo
Hi :)

Sounds sketchy. Am I in trouble?

What/who is your MD? Is he that important/powerful that he can't navigate to my contact page and send an enquiry? info@propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk

I will be extremely upset if your MD sends me dumb material to promote :)

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Henry 5th August, 2015 @ 00:37

Hi Landlord
If lending circles don't appeal to you and you are currently so stuck for good investment opportunities, how about paying more off your mortgages so you are debt free sooner than 5-7 years and so you have more to invest when the right thing comes along? If your mortgages are flexible enough that is.
Genuine question: is the tax relief that good a thing?
You get tax relief, but you have to pay bankers to borrow the money.
Perhaps I am very naive not having had any mortgages apart from on my own house (but that's fully offset and I only keep that mortgage for its 'borrow back' facility should I need some serious money sometime).

Otherwise, life can be too short so enjoy it.
Landlording beats working as a wage slave for a fuckwit boss.
Getting a good agent (the bosses of mine are also landlords) can reduce the day to day hassle a bit, although not the serious shit.

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Borrieboy 5th August, 2015 @ 07:14

Interesting read all round, along with the various comments. Maybe I've been lucky with my 3 flats but over the last 10 years I've had few problems...even letting without RGI, although I think now is a good time to use it, and I do.

On the question of "getting out" I wonder what people's take was on CGT...seeing as we all enjoyed price hikes over the last few years to the tune of 50% or more, there can be a whopping fat tax bill waiting to take a serious chunk of cash away from you.

And those xxxxs at Croydon Council want £750/property for basically nothing in return. We're trying to fight it but who knows what success we'll have.

And BTL around here comes in at broadly £130-150K for an entry level flat...so after your maintenance fee (usually £100/month) you'll get a net return of 5.6%, assuming you get all 12 months and you don't spend any money on: repairs, renewals, agents' fees or tax...chuck in some of those then you're looking at maybe a 3% return....and with all the hassle? Landlord, I understand where you're coming from...this is ever increasingly looking like a mug's game...

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The Landlord 5th August, 2015 @ 12:13

@Henry

Hi there!

I think you're right to be honest- my options seem to be limited. I am in the process of remortgaging, so I'm going to reduce some debt and take on smaller loans and reduce the mortgage term. Leaving money in 1% saving accounts seems like the least efficient way of "working my money" right now.

Tax relief is a good thing, because you obviously pay less tax- especially since mortgage interest payments is one of the biggest expenses landlords occur over the duration of being a landlord. You would need to pay the interest rate on mortgages regardless (assuming you have a mortgage), so that's kind of irrelevant. The bankers will always win.

You, my friend, are in a rare and fortunate position of being mortgage free!

Agreed, life is too short. We should all enjoy more, which is exactly what I'm trying to do.

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The Landlord 5th August, 2015 @ 12:27

@Borrieboy
Sounds like you have been fortunate and perhaps wise in your referencing process.

To be honest, over the last several years I haven't had that many problems- it could have been a lot worse. I've been fortunate and very grateful. Some of the stories I hear from other less fortunate landlords have been horrendous.

I think getting a top accountant when "getting out" is probably key. A good accountant should save you a lot more in tax than their fees.

Since you have 3 properties, it might be worth forming a limited company to get tax breaks that way. Also, I'm not sure if this applies anymore, but an accountant once told me that if you live in your properties for a few weeks at any point and transfer the utility bills over to your name during that time, you could class them as "residential" when selling and pay less tax that way. Perhaps do'able during renovation and in-between tenancies. I don't know all the specifics, but as said, a specialist property tax accountant should be able to save you quite a bit of money.

The whole landlord licensing scheme is a total scam! Just a stealth tax for the government to generate more money! Enfield Borough successful protested against it, hopefully more will be too! I've been trying to promote the Croydon petition. Power to the people!

With all the normal day-to-day costs, along with all the additional red-tape costs, rental yields are dropping by the day! It's ok for landlords that entered the game several years ago and have plenty of equity, but these days, unless you find a real bargain of a deal, the numbers just don't seem to stack up! It's a gamble!

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Paul Barrett 7th August, 2015 @ 04:03

Landlord I think you like many of us is suffering from 'combat stress'!!!!
It is reckoned that to leave anyone in combat for more than 90 is inefficient due to the lessening in combat efficiency
Now with LL I reckon this could be about 5 years
After that period you have usually suffered all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that can occur!!??
You are then somewhat world weary of this game; a sort of combat stress.
You cat around looking to be rotated back to the rear for a bit of R & R!!
But it never happens!!!
What to do!!??
How about doing as you suggest but maybe invest in some FHL which are more tax efficient and to which you could leave others to manage?
Plus you could use some of the holiday weeks for yourself on any spare weeks!!?
With the continuing rise of staycations FHL must be an attractive option
PLUS Not much chance of being machine-gunned on a British beach!!!!??
Finances are still stretched for many so a FHL is a something doable for most families
Anyway FHL is something to think about!!??
But I think your sentiments are felt by lots of LL
You are the only one brave enough to say it
Reminds me of Perter Finch in Broadcast
We're mad as hell and we've had enough!!!
Govt looks like delivering the coup de grace to the PRS with its stupid tax ideas
So perhaps time to exit the highly leveraged BTL business model and do as you are considering
Less property; but less leverage equals less tax
It will be the new paradigm for LL to aspire to.
Not many will succeed as they have too much debt and can't do much about it!!
Perhaps foreign investment particularly in Portugal where the Govt is offering no tax for 10 years for foreign property investors
Something to think about!!?
You have put a lot into this site
Perhaps you need to spread the load and find some other equally verbose LL to make such enjoyable commentary as you do and have done!?

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The Landlord 11th August, 2015 @ 17:37

@Paul

I think you might be onto something with the whole combat stress analogy. Makes sense to me anyways. I guess everything has a shelf-life eventually!

It's not like I want to jump ship or I dislike being a landlord suddenly, I've just done enough for now, and I've pretty much fulfilled my intentions- to create some security. I'd still encourage others to become a LL- can't knock the stability of it when done correctly! Safe as houses.

I am currently looking into new ventures with a few friends and other folks- I've got a few cogs turning, maybe something will happen.

I didn't know about the tax break incentive in Portugal. I actually love Portugal! I might look into that. Thanks for the head's up.

But for now, I'm actually kinda' happy to chill a little, do a bit more enjoying.. and see where the wind takes me :)

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Phil 12th August, 2015 @ 06:10

Super post and comments.

My intent was never to generate wealth but generate time. Reading some other sites I can see this is not always the case and leveraging and building large portfolios has been happening. To me that was, as you say - buying work.

Last 3 transactions have been sales. I realise the exit plan is vital - I love property but the intent was to have £ and time - not to have tenants and work.

I will keep a couple (one is split into 3 flats and is a modest pension itself) to keep my hand in. I will also do the odd flip because I like refurb'ing.

So 2 pieces of advice:

1) Know what feeds your soul and makes you happy. Then use what you have acquired to now do whatever you like - business, life and family.

2) know that in 5 years time you will remember that bus journey with a smile and it adds to life's riches. However, you may still retch when you smell cabbage for many years after that. :)

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The Landlord 13th August, 2015 @ 17:31

Know what feeds your soul and makes you happy

Yes!

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Anj 24th August, 2015 @ 05:05

There is a mid-way...Where we are in South London a number of agencies offer a guaranteed rent. Basically you sublet the property for 3 years and they find tenants and do all the running around. You get rent whether there is a tenant in there or not. Depending on how much you want to get screwed by the agent in terms of repairs you can even give them a limit so all repairs up to it are done and deducted...(needs some level of trust).

What this does is guarantees the income, and reduces (but not eliminates)the hassles. We have a mix of some on rent guarantee and some not...never had a problem with the ones on rent guarantee.

Obviously the rent is less (say 100 quid a month less)...worth your sanity...?
Ask around (the agents are basically going to the council on your behalf and getting someone in) ....

There are pitfalls...but can be easily negotiated with the right agent.

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Paul Barrett 24th August, 2015 @ 05:39

A major issue with your suggestion is that if the property is mortgaged then the maximum tenancy term allowed is 1 year
Very few mortgage providers will allow a tenancy of 3 year!!
There is also the issue of some LA might take on HB tenants
These may not be the sort of tenants you want!!!??
You would have to specify NO HB tenants!
It is a fact that HB tenants are not easy to deal with because of the eviction system etc.
This is why many LL are now refusing to take them on.

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Sam 6th November, 2015 @ 11:45

Very interesting post.

I set out to purchase 10, I now have 2 and am considering if a third is worth it. Mainly for reasons you said yourself (will it make me happier?).

Have you considered commercial property as a way to reduce the strain of tenants?

Sam

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The Landlord 12th January, 2016 @ 21:45

@Sam
Sorry, I've literally just noticed your comment. I'm going to reply now 5 years has passed, hopefully you're still around...

What did you end up doing in regards to expanding your portfolio?

I've considered commercial property several times in the past, but didn't go through with it. I appreciate that commercial tenants are more reliable, but on the same token, I've heard it can be a nightmare to actually find commercial tenants (hello massive vacant periods!). The demand isn't as lively as residential, it's a much smaller market. Plus, you see all those shop-fronts closing every day, while more and more people/companies are starting to operate from home, as they're going online.

I rent a office in a busy/popular commercial 'hub' - there's a unit a couple away from my office, it's been vacant for 4+ months.

Don't know, just seems like a bad time for commercial investment.

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Paul Barrett 13th January, 2016 @ 06:03

@ landlord
Yep I agree with your sentiments regarding vacant periods
There are two units in the centre of Bishops Stortford that have been empty for a year
Plus there were another two units Empty for over 5 years and there is still a new unit empty for 6 years
These are prime spots in new build developments
I've seen the rents being asked
That is why they are still empty
How does a LL afford to keep properties empty for 6 years etc!?
Surely the logic would be to reduce rent asked
Or aren't commercial LL subject to the same economic imperatives as residential LL!!?
I'd be bankrupt with a property empty for 6 months!!!

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Sam 13th January, 2016 @ 12:25

@The Landlord

No problem,

I’m still around! Largely sat on the fence, one of my tenants stopped paying so I’m going through the eviction process and may possibly sell this flat.

I also have an opportunity to refinance my other property so with a potential bundle of cash, I’m considering a couple of options:

1. Invest overseas
I.E. Team up with a US investor (although financing maybe difficult), where I don’t need to worry about mortgage relief changes ect and can find decent yields in good locations (I.E. Not getting scammed buying some dodgy house in a dodge location), if I proceed I’ll likely fly out to check it out a lot of due diligence will be needed.

2. Invest within a company
Whilst this doesn’t seem to make sense for single lets more exotic investments (E.G. Serviced apartments) it does make a lot of sense.

You’ll notice I’m not talking about commercial, largely for the same reasons you mentioned yourself.

I’ve got a couple of other life areas to focus on at the moment (moving house myself and my car broke down so will be in the market) so once those have passed I’ll regain my focus.

Sam

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The Landlord 14th January, 2016 @ 11:13

@Paul
Didn't realise you lived in B'Stortford, I know the area well!

If someone can leave a unit vacant for 6 years, it's probably because it's mortgage free and/or the landlord doesn't need the extra money!

@Sam
Sounds like it's all going on for you.

At least you have options/ideas. I'm massively sat on the fence, but I have no idea when or where to jump off. All I know is that money in the bank is losing value every day!

Good luck with the eviction! Freaking nightmare!

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K.. 18th January, 2016 @ 08:44

Hi
@The Landlord
I've been there. Sometimes the weight of responsibility kills all the joy in life!
I feel much happier now I've gotten rid of the dogs in my portfolio, which has taken 3 years and been expensive but worth it. Things now also feel a bit more manageable...
I self manage and for all the armchair investors out there bear in mind if anything goes wrong, it is on you - not the agent. If the agent makes a mistake, that is also on you. It's a completely false sense of security unfortunately.

Anyhow...I'm also looking for alternative investment routes. Did you ever find any suitable options? I'd be really interested to know.

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The Landlord 18th January, 2016 @ 10:37

@K..
Didn't find anything, my savings are dwindling away while sitting in the bank.

I really don't know where to invest. I glanced over Rightmove yesterday night, and the prices were insane!

You got any ideas?

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K... 18th January, 2016 @ 19:08

@The Landlord
Well, nothing concrete, but I've been considering stocks and bonds and been researching like hell for the last 3 months or so.
Also considering Peer2Peer investing (Zopa, Ratesetter etc) and investing in businesses via Crowd Cube etc. I'm just about to check out that Seedrs site too...

Jury is still out though.

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Renty McRentface 29th August, 2016 @ 12:34

Bonjour M. Landlord, Idling some time away catching up with some blogs and I noticed this one regarding your "combat fatigue". I recognise the symptoms and some of it I think is down to the state of the market and feelings of loss of control not providing the potential return for the known hassle..
Whether you still feel the same a year or so on I don't know. We are (post-Brexit summer) undoubtedly at a high point as far as house prices are concerned, but we've seen this before and prices don't seem to fall, but those risks of investing in property seem particularly high right now. I am London based, medium-sized portfolio and actively seeking to invest, based on prices that I can buy at and rent returns in the PRS I may get a 3.5-4% gross yield. That isn't anywhere near enough safety margin when the mortgage costs are 3.4%. I'd like to be making a buying decision at 6% minimum or 8% gross ideally - any ideas on that?
The frustration in the way the market shapes up certainly takes any sense of control away, but if the demand remains, no matter how "artificially" high and potentially recessionary, then in an unregulated market such as residential property it is not easy to see the up-side at present. Our control is that it is our money and we decide the timing of when to buy. We've had the feeding frenzy of the last few years and risk-free bargains are an extinct species.
Regarding your issues of time. You have put yourself into a favourable position by being a BTL landlord, but I prefer to spend the 10% to a managing agent so that I don't get the 3 am phone call about a leaking tap. I certainly don't waste my own time cleaning or gardening between tenancies - just build as bomb-proof a contract as possible regarding the deposit and use an independent inventory service to take a video/photo inventory and pay for a professional service to make good. You may not make every penny back from that service but you will reduce your hassle. That and be as thorough as possible with referencing and meeting prospective tenants.
You appear to act as a responsible landlord, who takes the job seriously of ensuring a well-maintained property and genuinely looking after tenants, with the obvious self-interest of making a profit and trying to end up with a solid investment. Have you thought about joining or putting a consortium of landlords/investors together? Not necessarily a crowd-fund but a more formal joint company? Anyone else have an experience of this or a similar desire? Could spread the risk and the load, just a thought.

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Henry 29th August, 2016 @ 20:52

@Renty McRentface

About agents' fees, I was originally quoted 13% by a major local estate agent, but because of the hot competition in the very local market (South Coast town) they'd reduce it to 10% like you pay. But by shopping around local lettings agents I got a very good agent (owned by a landlord couple) for 7% for full management (including inventories, emergency call outs, repairs (at an extra cost but it saves finding reliable tradespersons), tenant finding and vetting, and property inspections every 3 MONTHS!).
When I gave them another place (posh house) to let they took their fee down to 6% across my three let properties.

I'm not writing this to make anyone jealous, just to show what I achieved by shopping around (they do add a bit of commission to their charges for repairs but are not overly expensive, and if its not something their employed workers can do they refer me to a specialist they've found to be good value).
As you have more properties than me Renty, your power in shopping around agents might be good.

Clouds on the horizon:
Mainly reduced rental demand as fewer Eastern Europeans arrive post-Brexit, and some already here may leave before Brexit is finalised if they feel unwelcome.
Reduced rental demand also IF housebuilders (and self-builders through the new Registers and Regulations to come requiring local authorities to provide for such demand) both increase housing supply. In which case capital values may also not increase so much as they have in the past.

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The Landlord 30th August, 2016 @ 10:52

@Renty McRentface

Guten tag!

I agree, the current state of the market has played its part in my darkened desire to expand, no doubt about it. As you highlighted, the yields just aren't there anymore (or at least, not as easy to find). To achieve 6%+ you either need to be extremely lucky, or hit the auction houses. I'm not lucky, and I can't be assed to dabble with auctions :)

In reality, the hours consumed by repairs, maintenance, and general tenant educed tom-foolery aren't significant enough for me to contemplate shelling out on an agent. Just yet.

From my experience, generally speaking, if you have good tenants and use good quality appliances (e.g. boilers) and minimise fittings/furniture, the time consumed is minimal- definitely not worth 10% of agent fees for. But that's based on my specific circumstances.

But of course, I understand why many landlords choose to handover the responsibility.

In light of the current circumstances, the only action I've taken in regards to investing is pull some of my capital out of my worthless savings accounts and taken a sledgehammer to my debt (I'm going to blog about that shortly). I'll probably continue to do that until it's worth saving again.

Never really thought about joining forces. But on the surface, it seems riddled with complications (at least for me) e.g. what if I want to pull my money from the deal? Either way, in principle, it's still investing in property... *vomit*vomit*vomit*

I'm not really interested in spreading the risk. I'm interested in a good deal :)

Until one of those come along, I'll continue to reduce my debt.

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