Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Landlord Boot Camp?

Some people would turn landlords into squaddies, and have freshly shorn newbie landlords forced marched over rough, snowy terrain then vigorously barked at by sour Sgt Majors, and afterwards made to pass exams that last six hours (no break) to test whether or not they’ve learned the correct notice period for an Assured Short Term Tenancy (Accursed Short-Term Travesty).

They would then be marched repeatedly at gurkha speed shouting the requirements of good practice in rhyme like trainee US marines ‘I don’t know but I’ve been told/Two months due if flat being sold! (to a close relative…’)

Or, I’d like people working in the profession of being a landlord to go through regulated, tested, compulsory training (albeit with some shouting. If they are naughty.)

Here’s the problem: landlords have an enormous impact on the daily lives of vulnerable human beings. Buying a place and renting it out endows each and every landlord with enough power to undermine daily security, living standards and happiness. Newbies commonly know nothing, imagining that it’s like a fabulous new hobby/money-making sure-thing, not a business with implications and inherent risks; one requiring some knowledge of law (or a willingness to follow legal advice).

Anyone with enough money can become a landlord. Architects aside, much of the property industry is ruled by unregulated amateurs, with no real possibility of this changing (at least not in the current reality in which we are living.) The Private Rental Sector is gathering up most available properties and clutching them to its bosom, so small-time landlords are increasingly common.

Landlords should be trained at proper courses, maybe at night school (can’t find the time/cost? Well then you don’t get a licence and will be barred from landlording.) They will learn about needing the mortgage lender’s permission before letting a property, and will appreciate the benefits of reasonable, lawful and tolerant behaviour, such as doing timely repairs, or not waltzing breezily through the front door whenever they have the urge to say hello to/harass their tenant, or indeed at all.

They would appreciate the need for insurance, in case things go wrong/payments go awol. This would help them out, and might make the process less stressful. They would also save money on letting agents, encouraging longer tenancies thereby causing less of the dreaded voids (where you can hear tumbleweed rolling softly across the newbuild parks.) They would also learn that things can and do go awry.

They would learn which type of property is best suited to which type of tenant (better when buying and means they won’t expect families to cram into newbuild flats) and when to trust their instincts. They should also be taught about how to make a realistic profit, that is - not by cranking up weekly rents.

I would teach them how to be reasonable, how to behave, how to save themselves from loss. They would be less likely to be standing outside a court scratching their heads wondering aloud: ‘…what just happened?’ Everybody wins. Quick march…


Steelo said...

I completely agree.

Landlords and agents get paid for their "services". That makes them professionals. The whole idea of an "amateur landlord" is completely ridiculous.

As professionals, they should act as such. This means understanding the laws (on tenancy agreements, harassment, deposit protection, gas inspections etc) or getting the appropriate training. I do think there is some merit in making this compulsory.

The other thing that any supplier of goods or services soon understands is that of the RISK of non-payment. Landlords should understand that this is a business RISK. They can either accept the risk (and possibly take action through the courts to recover any unpaid money) or do something to mitigate it, such as:

1. Take a larger deposit.
2. More carefully screen proposed tenants.
3. Buy insurance.

RenterGirl said...

Maybe, but nobody can be 'screened,' and risk/loss should be factored in. People's lives and circumstances change (for the better and worse.) All a larger deposit does is make tenants reluctant to commit long-term. But, yes to the insurance.

Steelo said...

Tenants are screened (maybe the wrong choice of word) all the time. I have always had to provide a satisfactory bank, employer and previous landlord reference. Many rental properties I see advertised also have further restrictions, such as "No housing benefit", "No children", "No pets" or "No smokers".

I was only trying to make the point that landlords need to stop complaining when things go wrong, and that there are other options than insurance.

I think this all rather detracts from your point, with which I fully agree, that landlords should act in a professional way!

RenterGirl said...

I wasn't disagreeing!

Kroggy said...

As a Landlord (no I'm not rich, I'm doing it to pay for my kids uni bills and I have a massive mortgage), I question some aspects of what you write?
There are ruthless Landlords, I count myself as not one of those but adhere to the Laws of the land with regarding tenants rights!
Ask your self this...if you was a landlord would you really want to remove (Notice Served) a 'GOOD' tenant from your property? One that treats the place like their own? LOOKS after it and pays the RENT ON TIME!!!!????
The answer is NO!
Landlords tend to remove tenants for a reason, GOOD tenants stay!!!

How many tenants are willing to be listed on websites like or other similar sites?
As they say on their site..."only 'GOOD' tenants need only apply!"

RenterGirl said...

Kroggy: it might sound unlikely and indeed unwise for landlords to give notice seemingly at random, but they do. They might be thinking: I can get more money, a change is as good as rest, or that tenant wasn't subservient enough and asked for repairs. You're right: most landlords are at least reasonable. Others are thugs or capricious. It's also true that letting agents encourage tenancy change over because they can charge new 'finder' and admin fees.

Dazzla said...

Is it wise to make your children's future dependent on such an insecure revenue stream? You must remember that your tenants don't owe your children a future. If you are letting on this basis, perhaps you should consider a more secure funding source for such an important goal? It seems to me that this arrangement isn't good for your blood pressure, your tenants' peace of mind or your children's education.

RenterGirl said...

True Dazzla. Only in London, and with certain properties are rents rocketing, so don't believe the hype. When interest rates rise, and you try and up rents to cover this, what will you do when tenants cannot or do not pay (rents are too much of weekly income: this can't continue.)

Dazzla said...

"How many tenants are willing to be listed on websites like or other similar sites?
As they say on their site..."only 'GOOD' tenants need only apply!"

I didn't notice this before.

Kroggy, would you be willing to be listed on a rating site that measures landlords by how much they suck up to their tenants? Would you be willing to undergo a credit check, paid for out of your own pocket, every single time you let a house to your tenants?

I actually think the latter should happen: I've been made homeless before due to a landlord who couldn't afford the mortgage and our home was repossessed form under us.

I'm not the only person this has happened to.

Jon Butler said...

A Landlord has invested a lot of money in property and should take the job and responsibility seriously. Spending time each week ensuring they are up to date on the latest legislation would be to hard you would imagine.