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Are all Landlords Greedy and Money-Grabbing?

Updated on August 9, 2017
Stella Kaye profile image

Stella is a full-time professional landlord and property developer with fourteen years' experience. She is based in the UK

Being a Landlord is No Easy Way to Riches

Landlords don't have diamond encrusted knickers!
Landlords don't have diamond encrusted knickers! | Source

‘Stand and Deliver!’

I'm a UK landlord; we're often depicted as 'the highwaymen of this century.’ This came as a bit of a shock to know as it's so not me!

Highwaymen of times past - Dick Turpin to name the most notorious - would readily hold up a horse-drawn carriage, reputedly shouting: ‘Stand and deliver!’ He’d relieve travellers of the contents of their wallets, pockets, diamond encrusted knickers etc, at gunpoint. This was pure blatant robbery, no doubt about it and Turpin eventually received his just reward in the form of the gallows in 1739 at York.

The Downtrodden Landlord

Responsible landlords only want the rent to be paid on time in order to pay the mortgage so their properties aren't repossessed by the building society. We also expect our properties to be respected and the neighbours not to be disturbed. Of course, there are bad landlords just as there are bad tenants but it's far more likely that the landlord will suffer from property-related issues than the tenant. Tenants are always in a better position to take advantage purely because they have complete control over what goes on at the property and can withhold rent but the landlord is not there and can only react to a situation after the event.

In the USA, the landlord has more power than the tenant from a legal standpoint and power can always be abused, but in the UK this is not the case; the landlord has very little power and the law here is generally biased in favour of the tenant. In an ideal world, the law should be favourable to both tenants and landlords. The relationship between the two should be entirely fair and equal and beneficial to both; it should be a symbiotic one. If you don’t remember from high school biology what this entails, it means a relationship that isn't parasitical but one that is mutually beneficial. The landlord is providing a service and the tenant is able to enjoy living in accommodation they're unable to purchase for whatever reason.

As a full-time professional landlord, I have over a dozen properties in the UK all of which are mortgaged. I have to pay all of these mortgages every single month without fail whether the rent comes in or not or my only exit strategy will be to jump in the river. If the rent doesn’t arrive for whatever reason, I can’t give the mortgage company the same feeble excuses that some of my tenants have given to me. If I don’t pay on time, my credit rating will be affected immediately. I have a credit score that will get me into heaven but that could all change overnight if I get a bad tenant who's determined not to pay for the roof over his own head.

No one seems to appreciate the sheer amount of overheads a landlord has to pay after monthly mortgage costs have been met. These include buildings insurance, life insurance to cover the mortgage, gas and electrical safety checks and repairs and maintenance to name but a few, There is scarcely any profit to speak of once these outgoings have been met. Landlords with mortgages can only hope their properties will eventually go up in value so they can sell at a profit.

I’m a fair and honest person. I make sure the accommodation I let is safe and is of a high standard. I only expect three things from my tenants – that they'll pay the rent, not upset the neighbours and that they'll look after the house but I have to comply with an ever increasing amount of legislation some of which is unnecessary and sometimes means I have to increase the rent to cover costs. I also have to pay overdraft fees and credit card fees and borrow from relatives if my tenants don't pay their way. Ask any of my tenants if I’m a good landlord and I know they'll say yes but being a good landlord can't extend to the point where your business suffers if you're too lenient.

If you go to the supermarket, you place your goods in the trolley and pay for them there and then. You can’t say to the nice checkout lady: ‘Can I pay next month please?’ But this is what some of my tenants have often asked me. I’m a woman so maybe some tenants think I’m a soft touch but at the end of the day if they mess me around I could be out selling the ‘Big Issue’ if the building society decides to repossess. The tenant, however, can easily find somewhere else to rent.

The building society never loses, the tax man never loses, and neither does the council or the government but the landlord stands to lose everything if rent is unpaid. The level of responsibility in being a landlord is on a level with that of being God. God, if you believe in him, is the ultimate landlord. He gave us the tenancy of this planet. He gave us dominion over all living things and we messed up. He never asked us for any rent but we have still fouled up our own nest. I’m not particularly religious but I can sympathise with God in this respect especially after having houses trashed by tenants who didn't deserve a dog kennel to live in.

As a landlord, it's often the case that you trustingly hand over the keys to a property in pristine condition then each time you call for the rent, things are noticeably on a downward spiral. Fixtures and fittings go walkabout. Drains get bunged up and the property goes from Barratt show home quality to squalid squat in no time at all. Don’t get me wrong - at the moment I have a good bunch of tenants but I’ve also had the worst of the worst and if anything positive can come out of a bad experience then it makes you more aware of how bad people can be. I have had so called ’born again’ Christians in one property who all but wrecked the place. I had to do a total refurbishment on the house after the nice Christians had left - give me a responsible heathen any day of the week! The landlord can only react to a bad situation so there are no preventative measures to be taken beforehand even when tenants are vetted and checked thoroughly at the commencement of a tenancy.

I'm currently in debt to the tune of a million GB pounds, so think again all you folk who reckon landlords are wealthy. If you have a lot of houses it means you also have a lot of bills. The only reason I can still sleep soundly at night is that I hold the hope that one day my houses will increase in value so the debt can be accounted for if the value of my portfolio is higher.

An Amusing Song About Landlords

A Handy Book for Every Landlord

Do Your Due Diligence

Nowadays, whether you are a landlord or a tenant it is possible to take preventative measures to reduce the possibility of being ripped off by unscrupulous people. Doing the proper research will enable you to avoid many of the pitfalls associated with letting or renting a property. As mentioned previously, there are bad landlords and there are bad tenants so the better informed you are to protect yourself against such people will lessen the likelihood of making costly and time consuming property related mistakes.

Advice for New Landlords

Keys to Success?

The keys to correct property management
The keys to correct property management | Source

Just because landlords have a lot of houses it doesn't mean they have a lot of money!

— Stella Kaye

Be Careful That Bad Tenants Don't Burst Your Bubble!

The housing bubble is a very delicate thing
The housing bubble is a very delicate thing | Source

Should landlords and tenants be treated equally in law?

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© 2016 Stella Kaye

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