Yesterday day I drifted into the weird world of those mysterious beings who dwell on The Other Side, the dark side, the outer edge of the property map marked ‘….here be dragons’.
Actually, I was looking at some blogs posted by landlords, researching what these creatures of the night were saying about me and my fellow landless peasant scum.
Most landlord sites are quite straightforward, posting and answering queries about tenancies, rogue traders, and insurance, etc. Their current concern (or obsession) is staying strong and not selling up in the face of ‘The Oncoming Crash,’ believing that if too many of their comrades sell up in the face of fear, a chain reaction will begin, and they will lose everything in that dreaded scenario of plummeting house prices, and worthless investments.
Others are vile. One suggests boosting rental income by advertising a flat without stating the precise rent, but requesting sealed bids. The highest offer wins the flat. One blogger refers to his tenant casually throughout his posts as ‘that bitch’. She paid her rent late; not good, but part and parcel of the landlord experience, for those who know. Now she’s paid up, he is set on evicting her, seemingly because he can. This attitude is pretty rich considering the great evil landlords themselves are occasionally known to do.
Many landlords openly despise even blameless tenants for no clear reason. They assume we are evil. Where does this resentment come from? We need a home. They need our rent (we pay their mortgage, and ergo their pension fund) and usually this works out fine, so why the hostility?
Elsewhere, there are innocuous hints on improving the property, confirming what we all know: effectively maintained properties decorated in neutral colours, supplied with sturdy, pleasant furniture and decent white goods will raise more consistent rental. One site basically agrees with many points made here: don’t skip repairs, don’t abuse the tenant relationship, don’t be a bully and turn up unannounced.
These pointers are presumably aimed at dilatantte landlords, dimly aware there’s a flat somewhere around these parts, which they vaguely remember acquiring, which would account for the money that comes in sometimes (how lovely!) These hobby landlords must fondly imagine that repairs are done secretly at night by kindly elves, and anyway: just who are those dreary ‘tenant’ people squawking about the leaks and collapsing ceilings?
The majority of landlord sites discuss methods of securing a mortgage; there's much less chatter about the benefits (and obligations) involved in keeping the property in an appealing condition. What landlords need is consistency; encouraging happy, settled tenants to remain in place and reliably pay rent must surely be their aim.
We are in this together. Tenants need well constructed homes, intelligently and sympathetically fitted out. We need flats we can live in for some time, a sense of security, but above all else, a home, a real home, not rat runs for lab animals. Landlords would also benefit. In so many ways, we are on the same side. So let’s not fight.