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 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!
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.