Meet the landlords….

I would like to think that having grown out of short trousers some time ago and having been around the block several times since, that it take alot to make me stand aghast and ask, “Is this for real?”  However, last night’s BBC One ‘Meet the Landlords’ did succeed in making me do a double-take and grab the week’s TV listings to confirm what it was that I was watching.  It featured a restricted view of landlords in city centre areas and the trials and tribulations of both landlord and tenant.  The main protagonist was the self-appointed, ‘HMO Daddy’, who uttered golden phrases such as, “You just need a few smoke detectors and locks on doors,” and “what do you want apart from a TV, a few cans of Special Brew and a box of tissues?” One has to think, that with this attitude, one gets the tenants that one deserves.  That said, he is addressing a gap in the market and is profiting from meeting these needs; and before any of us come over too holier than thou and put ourselves forward for the next UNICEF humanitarian award, we are all in business to make money.  Nowhere was this better illustrated than in the predicament of another landlord (landlady for all those ardent feminists reading this) featured, who having made her first venture into the property market a year ago was owed a year’s rent and was only now taking any legal action by employing the services of an ‘eviction specialist’.  Incidentally, I was never offered the option of becoming an eviction specialist when I sat in front of the careers teacher at school…astronaut, special forces soldier, style guru, on the sausage… possibly.  The blindingly obvious question that I – and probably most people watching – wanted to ask, was, “Why has she waited this long?”.  Once the tenant  was two months in arrears she should have issued a Section 8 notice and commenced court proceedings 14 days after service.  As we watched the ensuing drama unfold, including tears, snot, hair straighteners, neon nails and a dog that unbeknownst to the poor canine was up for sale on Gumtree for £1500, the one glaring omission was the absence of any agent.  Why do people think that they can it themselves?  Of course, some are more than capable of running a successful property empire, more so than many an oleaginous agent who wears a shiny suit two sizes too small (you know who you are…) but the world of pain that this lady found herself in, was wholly avoidable.  At the other end of the spectrum, a north-eastern lettings agency was visited where the manager had the patience of Job and went above and beyond the call of duty to look after her tenants and therefore by definition, her landlords.  Ninety per cent of this agency’s tenants were in receipt of some form of benefits and her role appeared to be that of both lettings agency manager and surrogate social worker. But what was very evident was that her style of management of her properties and professional approach did not result in the same soap opera featured earlier. The editing suite at the BBC must have been working overtime before this programme was ready to air and as I said at the beginning of this blog, it was a narrow view of the rental world but I cannot emphasise enough that if you are contemplating becoming a landlord , you must seek professional advice.  Unless of course you want to have your Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame weeping and wailing on national TV.