Over 11 million people are renting in Britain, with most of the revenue being collected by private landlords¹. Many landlords have no idea what it’s like to live in the properties they profit from- which causes misconception among tenants and landlords alike. Often, properties lack the basics such as adequate heating and running water. But who is to blame, tenant or landlord?
We take a look at the BBC’s The Week The Landlords Moved In, a series giving landlords the opportunity to live in their tenants’ shoes for a week while living on their budget. Here are a few things we’ve learned from 1/3 Millionaires Marc and Peter in Episode 1, Series 1.
Tenants won’t always speak up
Don’t rely on your tenants to tell you when problems arise in their home. Remember that you have the power to boot them out, so some will fly below the radar in the hope their situation will improve (you will approach them) or they will simply accept what they are given. Check in once in a while to see if any maintenance needs doing, it might be a £6 job here or there that could save your tenants grief in the long run. Not only that, a small issue might turn into a big one, meaning you will have to dip into your pocket for a more expensive solution!
Your property could be dangerous
Proceeding on from the first point, your property might not be safe to live in. Episode 1 saw landlords Marc and Peter raising issues of mould, a wobbly hob and temperatures so cold they should have `packed for the Arctic`. These problems are avoidable, and if you don’t want to invest time or money in fixing issues that will otherwise put your tenants at risk, you should reconsider whether the property is fit for letting in the first place.
Some tenants have a skin-tight budget
Always consult your tenants if a solution to a maintenance issue will be of cost to them. Linda, Episode 1’s tenant, left a note addressing some house rules for her landlords to follow during the house swap. She said: “Could you not put the heater on in the bedrooms, as I can’t afford the electric bill since you put the ventilator in and my bills have doubled!” Consider a solution that will be of benefit to you and your tenants- always reach out to them before addressing issues in the property, and explain what measures you are taking. You might own the property, but you don’t have to live there!
Be honest with yourself
Upon entry of the house, Marc and Peter comment on the mould lining the walls, saying “You can smell it as well! I pride myself on being a good landlord and this doesn’t paint me in a good light.” It’s important to address problems even if your first instinct is to ignore them because you have bigger fish to fry. Whether it’s a tiny spot behind the wardrobe or an entire wall, nobody wants to live with a damp smell (including you!).
You might be pricing your property all wrong
After discovering room for improvement in the property, Marc and Peter visited a letting agent to see what it could be worth if they addressed each issue. It might be that you are charging too much for rent, but you may be charging too little and those niggly problems could be stopping you from making a pretty penny.
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¹ BBC, The Week The Landlords Moved In, July 2017