No, not the words of the Prince of Denmark bemoaning his fate (as was his wont), but what I asked of a landlord this week. Do you really think that this renting lark is for you, my old china?’ I am still capable of having my flabber gasted by the ridiculous reactions of first time landlords who, whilst reading all the press about how buy-to-let properties are the new Valhalla, simultaneously leave their common sense in the same place that Sally Bercow left her self-respect. This week we contacted a “new” landlord who had just purchased his “first of many” buy-to-let properties. We informed him that the locking system on the 40 year old aluminium double glazed front door had seized whilst the door was open! The reaction of the landlord was, “I knew those tenants would be trouble”. Tenants, who are retired and are not prone to swinging or crashing through front doors; think the demographic of the Specsavers adverts where the fitness instructor turns up to the local bingo hall. After explaining the risk to the security of his property I confirmed that our contractor had already visited the house and could fix the problem for £140. I was told that his mate could do it cheaper and that he would get back to me. True to his word, he did, to tell me that actually his mate couldn’t do it for less than we had quoted and couldn’t actually get there for some time. Fortunately, history had taught me to already book our contractor to carry out the work. Whilst the mass press reporting on how to be a landlord focuses on the terrific yields; what it invariably fails to mention is that on order to earn these yields, a landlord has to be prepared to spend at least some money on upkeep. Whilst the property is quite literally the property of the landlord, it is the home of the tenant and they are paying the monthly rental for the privilege.
The advice of my father-who counselled me on my courting technique- came to mind this week. If you really, really like a member of the fairer sex, try not to appear too desperate. The same could be applied to vendors who impart at every opportunity that they, “don’t need to sell” and “I won’t take less than …” Cue a viewing of their property. The interested parties have barely left the postcode when a breathless home owner is on the phone, “Well? Did they like it? Have they made an offer? What other properties are they looking at?” If we rang the people that we had escorted on a viewing within an hour of having bid them farewell, we are straying into territory that is no longer under the banner of ‘Efficient and Professional’ but closer to ‘Fricking Desperate and We Need To Pay The Rent On The Office’. People continue to think that a property transaction is a cat and mouse game and that they need to play their cards so close to their chest that retrieving them is akin to an SAS mission. Whilst I appreciate that nobody wants to be caught with their pants down, the too cool for school mentality is wearing, a waste of time and as a result, affects people where they feel it the most, in their pocket. Potential purchasers are equally culpable. Having viewed a property with feigned disinterest accompanied by any number of theatrically announced comments on what they really, really don’t like, they ‘nonchalantly’ ask the agent, “What will they take for it?” Being an independent agent and not having to worry about the behemoth of a PR machine that is part of the corporate structure, I can politely enquire of both parties, “Do you want to buy it? Do you want to sell it?” It is then up me and my years of experience (from about the time that Moses’ mother was putting down a deposit on the basket), to bring both parties together to a mutually agreeable point for exchange. To all potential landlords, I would urge them-before they spend their recently cashed-in pension fund-to speak to a rental agent who can bring their experience to discuss the great benefits and possible pitfalls of becoming a landlord.