The alternative guide to letting property…
I’ve just joined the NLA and am currently working through my Landlord Accreditation. Inspired by this, and by one or two of my own mistakes, plus those of friends of mine who’ve let property and stories I’ve picked up in various internet forums – especially accounts by newbie lodger landlords(!!). Just for Christmas, I’ve put together a very different account of how (NOT!) to let a property… I’d best just say for the record that this is entirely fictional and isn’t intended as an account of any one real person’s experience!
A new landlord’s diary
I’ve just lost my job and thought I’d give this landlording thing a go – nice easy way to make money, no worries, no hassle, just wait for the rent to roll in each month…
It’s simple, I’ll rent out my flat where I live, move into a cheaper place and find another job.
Why waste all that money on an agent? So what if you’ve never let a property before – what is there to it?
Advertising – why waste money on fancy online adverts when a postcard in the local shop window will do, or just scribble a sign on a bit of cardboard and stick it in the window. As for wording, be direct – and if you do your own ad, you can put whatever you want – this way, you won’t get any time wasters.
As for getting any nosy parker’s permission – what business is it of theirs?? It’s not the mortgage company’s home they’ll be living in – it’s mine!
Insurance? My regular home and contents insurance will do the job – why should I go to the expense and hassle of getting special insurance!
That furniture I picked up from the junk store will do – I don’t see why it should have to comply with some daft safety regulations – I’ve got plenty of stuff like that in my own house and it still hasn’t caught fire! And I’ll just stick some paint on the wall over that mouldy patch – they won’t know the difference.
EP what? CP… sumink? Why would I need those – when I was living there, I saved on bills by only putting the heating on for an hour every day – why shouldn’t the tenants do the same? And I only had the boiler serviced two years ago – it doesn’t need checking! Everyone is out to make money out of landlords with all these daft schemes!
And if anyone thinks I’m going to pay utility bills or council tax just ‘cos no one’s living there, they’ve got another think coming!
After being told by more prospective tenants than I can count that I’m asking way too much rent, I’ve finally found someone who’s agreed to my asking price! Way-hay!! He seemed a really nice bloke too – he runs his own import/export business with interests in lots of different countries and he’s just moved to this country and is setting up a base here. As he’s from abroad, I won’t be able to find a company to reference him – even if I do, they’ll charge an arm and a leg. Anyway, I’m pretty sure he’s sound – seems a really nice person. No need to pay out for rent guarantee schemes either – I’ve got a well off tenant.
I’m not really sure about tenancy agreements, but I found one of those assured something things online, printed it off and we both signed it – I think it means he lives there for 6 months then moves out, but whatever – I’ve mentioned to him that I might need the flat back if work dries up and I need to move back – I’m sure he’d be happy to move out on a week’s notice – the place is furnished after all – not like he has to worry about removals!
My tenant moved in last week. He just called me to ask about my somewhat temperamental boiler – I told him to just give it a good bang with spanner or hammer – that used to get it working for me. That didn’t do the trick, though so I went around to have a look and try to repair it – even when I took the cover off, I still couldn’t see what was wrong – though it is only the second time I’ve had a look inside a boiler… Anyway, I told him to use that fan heater I left if it gets too cold and you can always make do with boiling a kettle if you need a wash – you’re not going to get very sweaty in the middle of December though. I probably could have used some of his deposit money to get it fixed – that’s what it’s for isn’t it? But unfortunately, I’ve just used the money to pay the deposit on my new flat – don’t tell anyone!!
I just got a call from the woman next door to my old flat – she says my tenant has been holding loud late night parties four nights a week, for the past month. I told her that he’s a businessman, and he’s probably just entertaining clients – she made some remark about the kind of clients and business he’s running – cheek! I couldn’t get hold of my tenant, so sent him a text – I’m sure it was just a misunderstanding.
The old bag lady next door keeps ringing about the parties and anti social behaviour in general, and when I did get hold of my tenant, he said he didn’t know what the neighbour is talking about – so after she called yet again, I decided to pay a visit. There was a lot of rubbish in the garden, including syringes, used condoms and discarded lager cans – my tenant wasn’t very pleased at me just turning up – he had the cheek to accuse me of harassment! The bleary eyed, dishevelled slob who answered the door didn’t seem anything like the charming businessman I first spoke to when I let the flat, and the inside has been damaged and stinks – pot being the most pleasant of the smells.
I’ve just checked my bank account – the mortgage wasn’t paid because there were insufficient funds in my account to cover the direct debit – because my tenant hasn’t paid the rent! So I’ve written to the tenant and asked him to move out by end of the week.
So I keep getting calls and texts from the woman next door to my tenant, and the mortgage company are warning me they might need to repossess the flat – so I called round again and told this whatsit that if he’s not gone soon, I’d set the heavies on him – to which he laughed and told me I’d be hearing from his solicitor! As I was leaving, he tossed my mail into my hand – I think a few of the letters are from my mortgage company…
I’ve had a look online and learnt that you issue a Section 21 notice to end an AST (I think that’s the legal term for this kind of let…) but when I sent it, I got a letter from the tenant’s solicitor saying he can’t be asked to move out on those grounds as the AST has a six month fixed term period? They’ve also asked for a copy of the deposit protection certificate??
I spoke to Citizen’s Advice and they told me to get my own solicitor ASAP – like I’m made of money!
The tenant’s solicitor has the cheek to complain about the lack of hot water and heating – and threatened me with a maintenance order!
In the meanwhile, my mortgage company have started repossession proceedings – I didn’t dare tell them I couldn’t pay the mortgage because of the rent arrears and not having any insurance or savings in place to cover it – especially as they didn’t know I’d let my flat in the first place!
Unless I can find a good solicitor to take my case on a no win no fee basis I’ll lose my flat – the irony is I can’t get Legal Aid because I have too much equity in the flat! I can’t find a job either, and the DWP have told me I can’t claim any benefits as again the part of the flat that I own is too high in value and I haven’t paid enough National Insurance over the last two years to qualify for non-means tested benefit (whatever that means!).
Oh well, I suppose that’s my landlord career over before it started – and I was sure I’d thought of everything before I even let the flat!!