Hey! How’s it going? Everybody keeping safe and plodding along? Bit of a shit-show out there, innit?
I’ve been meaning to blog about how the coronavirus has impacted my life, both from a personal and professional perspective, and the changes I’ve made to adapt. But I didn’t want to share too soon, or too late. I’m not sure if now is the right time, but it is the time.
Relatively speaking, I’ve gone by unscathed [so far], but I have taken a few blows; I’ve lost a few quid along the way, but perhaps the biggest expense has been my dwindling faith in humanity. Apparently there’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned pandemic to bring out the absolute stupid in some people, am I right?
Other than that, much like most other people, I’ve had to make some lifestyle adjustments to accommodate “the new normal” (a phrase that has quickly become overused and consequently started to get on my saggy tits).
Despite the lack in extreme turmoil and drama, I thought it might be cool if we had a catch up – I haven’t blogged in a while – and who knows, perhaps the little that has happened might prove to be encouraging.
Fair warning, there’s going to be no real structure, just a random assortment of… stuff…
Landlord / Business / Financial
Loss of rental income
Yeah, man. Sadly, I couldn’t dodge this nasty bullet.
At the very early stages of the lockdown, one of my tenants reached out to inform me that her income had taken a sharp nose-dive due to the coronavirus (one of her main sources of income was generated from the wedding industry, yikes!). Inevitably, that meant paying rent was going to be a struggle.
Fortunately, it was an easy problem to resolve…
WHAT AM I, A FUCKING CHARITY? FIND THE CHEESE OR PACK YOUR JUNK UP AND ROLL-OUT, CHEAP-SHAKE! YOU MAKE ME SICK!
I’m only yanking your pecker.
To give you some context:
- She’s been a tenant for 6 years (maybe longer, I can’t remember, and I’m too lazy to look it up)
- She’s never missed rent
- She takes immaculate care of her home
- She’s an awesome person
She started off by trying to entice me into helping her access government support, but her methods sounded too complicated and uncertain, and to be honest, it didn’t sound completely legit. She was understandably stressed and desperate.
Before she said too much and offered to cover her short-fall with inappropriate favours, I stopped her in her tracks by proposing a 50% rent reduction for a period of four months and an evaluation at the end of it. It felt like a no-brainer solution. It wasn’t a ‘rent holiday’, or an unhelpful scheme which will involve repayments once she’s back on her feet.
Yup, the loss in rent hurt, but it felt necessary. Hopefully I don’t need to explain the ethics and economics of taking care of good tenants and beautiful people.
But I must stress, I’m in a financial position where I’m able to do that for my tenant, and she’s built up an incredible amount of goodwill over the years. I’m not trying to pave the way for the masses or set a precedence. As I’ve said from the beginning, we should only do what we can to help, no more, no less.
Thankfully she’s back on her feet now, so this month the rent will return to the regular fat rates.
Need legal advice with a problematic tenant?
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I’ve heard from too many decent landlords that are dealing with tenants that are taking the absolute piss and taking full advantage of the coronavirus eviction ban. Yes, it was inevitable, but the sheer numbers have even made me dizzy.
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Postponed non-essential maintenance
To safeguard my cashflow, I have postponed all non-essential maintenance to help retain cash. God only knows how long this bullshit is going to last for.
For example, pre-COVID-19, I had scheduled to replace the windows for a property. It wasn’t a critical job, but it needs to be done at some point. It can wait.
Critical maintenance issues still continue to drain my pockets and ruin my life as normal. *mutters*
Cleared mortgage debt (and paid an early repayment penalty)
With interest rates being shitter than shit, it’s the worst time – certainly in my life time – to hoard large amounts of cash (not that I have large amounts), especially while I’m still riddled with debt.
So I took the obvious strategic decision to clear the balance of a mortgage loan, which had an interest rate of 3.79%. Meanwhile, the best ‘Easy Access’ savings accounts are offering a puny 1% (approx), and with the looming possibility of negative interest rates, I don’t even expect that garbage rate to hold for much longer.
I was still tied into a 5 year fixed rate period with my mortgage policy, with 1 year remaining, so I had to swallow an early repayment penalty in order to clear the balance. However, it was still more profitable to open wide and toss it down my gullet, especially with Section 24 (the ghastly legislation which stops landlords from offsetting mortgage interest payments against their tax liability) fully rolling out this year.
I’m still not buying!
Some of you old-timers may remember, a couple of years ago I blogged about how I had no interest in purchasing more BTLs, which was a position inspired by various reasons specific to my circumstances. I quote, “The thought of buying another BTL makes me physically sick” (there’s a chance I may have skipped my meds that morning, so I may have been overly dramatic).
However, I did make a couple of exceptions, one of them being if I stumbled across an absolute bargain.
Like most, I suspected this pandemic would negatively shatter house prices. I mean, who wouldn’t think that?
Naturally, I browsed the market, expecting to bump into bargain after bargain.
Conclusion: the market seems to be in good bloody health, no sign of a runny nose, let alone an infection. What-the-actual-F?
The property market has proven to be one resilient cockroach during these times. Prices in my area are still INSAAAAAAAAYNE!
I don’t know if there’s a lag, but right now, I’m still definitely out.
On a side note, I’m sure it will go down well with society that I, a landlord, was potentially looking to take advantage of a pandemic and tumbling house prices.
Optimised savings accounts
I’m one of those Money Saving Numpties that constantly shifts money around to benefit from the best interest rates, even if it’s marginally better. Of course, I’m a total loser either way, because I’m playing a game I cannot win; the current piss-poor interest rates can’t compete with the rate of inflation, so all I’m really doing is prolonging the obliteration of my net worth.
But fight we must.
My rainy day/emergency fund may as well work as hard as possible, even if that’s very little.
I very recently transferred most of my funds into the government backed NS&I Income Bonds, which offers a less than inspiring 1.16% return. However, even that won’t last for much longer, because it was announced earlier this week, that they’re going to take a rusty hacksaw to their rates in November, reducing it to a comical rate of 0.01%. *slaps forehead*
Yes, that’s 0.01%! What’s the fucking point? Just put me out of my misery and make it 0%, for Fuck’s sake!!
If I don’t laugh, I’ll chop my arm off.
So now I’ve opened a savings account with Coventry Building Society, which is offering 1.20%, but it comes with the restriction of a max limit of two withdrawals per year. Suits me just fine. I’ll be shipping my funds in there shortly.
No doubt, a week later, they’ll slash their rates to -20%.
Tossed more money
down the crapper into shares
Bit of a punt, but I figured, why the hell not?
Actually, I certainly know why not. Gambling is a mugs game, but evidently so is saving right now.
I poured a very conservative amount of money into my Nutmeg mutual funds account, which is the investment app I discussed last year.
Let the chips fall where they may. Unless fate drags me into the negative.
Started a new online business
I’ve spent the past few months working on an eCommerce business with one of my best friends. I thought I’d try being productive during the lockdown. It’s doing alright, ya’ know?
Without wanting to come across as a slime-ball motivational speaker, I can only encourage people to get their side-hustle on, especially if spare time is available and money is a concern. It’s never been easier to start a business online; it takes time and effort, but the barrier to entry has never been lower. Believe!
Oh look, mission failed, I sound exactly like one of those motivational rat weasels. I apologise.
Personal / lifestyle
I’m not a coffee snob per’se, but I am one of those futile donkeys that struggles to function without my morning hit of caffeine. I’m a waste of space otherwise. WHO’S WITH ME?
While the primary objective is to get caffeine flowing through my veins as quickly as humanly possible from the moment I wake up – at whatever cost – I have developed a taste for freshly ground beans. The instant stuff will get me through the day, but the ‘proper stuff’ makes the high enjoyable.
So when the lockdown forced all local coffee shops to shut shop, the panic quickly set in, because without my supplier, I feared I was going to lose my bloody mind. I’m sure there’s an entire army of addicts out there that can relate.
I wasn’t about to go down like that.
Long story short, I went down a wildly absurd rabbit hole, where I consumed hours of how-to YouTube videos on how to make barista-quality coffee at home. As a result, I now own a ludicrously expensive burr coffee grinder (bear in mind, I initially thought a £20 pepper grinder would suffice!), an espresso machine, and routinely purchase fresh coffee beans bi-weekly.
Remarkably, I now prefer the taste of my own concoctions over the slop I’m offered by the large coffee chains we’re all familiar with (which, pre-lockdown, tasted like heaven). Plus, it’s saving me a fortune. Or at least, it will, eventually.
My morning routine now includes a 10 minute ritual of making freshly brewed coffee. Funny how life changes.
For as long as I can remember I have exercised 3-5 times per week, so it’s an instinctive habit for me. Much like my dependency on coffee, if I don’t meet the quota my body is accustomed to, I’m grossly insufficient.
The closure of gyms wasn’t ideal, least of all was purchasing home gym equipment that I’d make little use of once they reopened.
Working out at home is pretty horrible, but somehow I adapted, and unlike many of my friends, I managed to avoid the transition of declining into a hippo during the lockdown.
BTW, did anyone else have a nightmare ordering in gym equipment? I literally had to wait 4 weeks for all of the equipment to arrive due to the surge in demand, which meant during the interim, I had to make use of some pretty hilarious makeshift solutions. I was literally using cases of bottled mineral water as weights. I looked ridiculous.
Online gym equipment retailers are one of the few sectors which clearly thrived during the lockdown.
Increased daily steps / walking
I think the lockdown may have triggered an irrational fear of being “trapped”, because I’ve found myself walking to places I ordinarily would have driven to. My step-count has gone off the charts.
I’m not complaining, I like it. I’m just saying.
Dwindling faith in humanity
Ahh yes, the rapid decline in my faith in humanity.
I’m at a loss for words.
Actually, I’m not.
I’m not completely oblivious, I know the world is full of wonderful souls and selfish assholes. But the optimistic side of me was hopeful that during a pandemic we’d make a concerted effort to rally together and provoke the best in humanity to surface. I didn’t expect serial killers to suddenly start volunteering at puppy shelters or anything like that, but I expected them to wear face masks to help reduce infection rates.
In hindsight, I’m the asshole for being so optimistic and thinking life is a Disney production. Lesson learned.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard people say – be it politicians, pundits, or some other oblivious douche-bag – that “The British people are doing a terrific job.”
ARE WE? REALLY? Or are you just blowing smoke up my arse, mate?
My day-to-day experiences make it crystal clear that even a pandemic cannot curb incompetence. If anything, it only increases the potency.
In fact, I’m sure it’s the same people that are patting themselves on the back for their contribution towards the nation’s brilliant efforts that are also doing this…
“LOOK DOWN, ASSHOLE!!”
The two examples I highlighted are the ones that stick out the most because they require almost zero brain-cells to comply with, yet every single [unbearable] day I encounter multiple breaches, from every type of person.
I honestly can’t workout what is wrong with these people, and it’s worrying how many of them there are. They mostly look normal, but they’re clearly mentally deranged.
I know, I know, I’m having a slight hissy-fit, but I just had to get that off my tits. I was about to implode.
Just to clarify, I don’t want to take the shine away from those that are doing their part, especially those on the frontline. I see you, and I appreciate you. My only point is, there are more incompetent and selfish dickheads roaming amongst us than I ever imagined possible.
On a more positive note, I’m done. Happy Friday :)
So, how are you getting on? Grab the mic and share! xoxo
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.