Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Hug A Landlord

According to some readers, I have a bad attitude. People see me as an unreasonable, no holds-barred landlord loather, spoiling for a fight. Nothing could be further from the truth: all I want is a quiet life.

When I moved in, ‘Dave,’ my current landlord, didn’t demand exhaustive references, but then, I get no guarantees from him. Thankfully, he’s been helpful, understanding, realistic, reliable and tolerant. I do my utmost to be the same. Unfortunately, I have been enduring a complex and protracted nightmare with my bank much like a scene from the film ‘Brazil’, which involved them apparently losing or deleting my account. I was late paying my rent, which is dreadful.

Delaying payment requires delicately negotiations, balancing the need to collect money with the problems the tenant faces. This latest batch of new landlords who bought in the boom-time are learning that when renters run up arrears, being heavy can be counterproductive. If someone has lost their job, and is claiming benefits, why not be reasonable and wait. They might have been your dream tenant until then, so why lose them? In return, tenants might accept that landlords can’t always come racing over at the drip of a tap.

Of course, some tenants are wilfully dishonest, or presume that all landlords are rich, when usually they are barely covering their costs, especially at the moment. A property owning friend had tenants who ran away to Australia owing three months money. He only just managed to survive.

I’ve written previously about the evil that bad landlords do, but ‘Dave’ has been a star. I paid the backlog as soon as possible, and wouldn’t dream of doing a runner. He’s new to this, and to those in a similar situation, I offer this advice: there will, at some point, be a gap between tenants, a late payment, or even renters who can’t or will not pay. You need an amount put by to cover unexpected situations. Tenants pay in advance, and landlords have the deposit, so in those rare cases when rent is late/goes awol, you should never be owed more than a month. But to avert disaster, you need something in reserve.

Landlords can be excellent – as in actively pleasant and helpful, or simply okay – as in quiet and absent. ‘Emily’ has commented here about her landlord who, when her toddler scribbled on the wall, shrugged and said: “It’s okay – I can paint over it when you leave.” He didn’t rub his hands with glee at the chance to claim on insurance for redecoration while simultaneously docking money from her deposit.

‘Dave,’ the owner of my Nice Heights flat has been reasonable beyond the call of human tolerance, and A in Glasgow was lovely too. It’s not always necessary, or even wise to seek possession at the first hint of late rent. Tenants, if you can wait for a non-essential repair, then try and be reasonable. Remember: we’re both human and we need each other, so if you can, be nice.

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