Why would anyone become a landlord/rentier? Why would they do that? Simple: letting out property as homes for other people to live in was traditionally, and increasingly seen as a certain, sure fire, cross-your-heart-hope-to-die, solid gold, clear cut, guaranteed route to financial security or even…WEALTH!
Rich! Rich you will be! Richer than Croesus, wealthier than your wildest, trippiest, dreams. Totally bling. For sure. Money, money, money!
Except, well…it’s not like that is it? Landlords who bought for, and are entering the private rental sector are doing so not just because they want to be rich…Rich! RICH! (etc…) They do so for security, as state pensions are disappointing, student fees are high and interest rates are low. Put your money in bricks in mortar went the mantra. And that’s exactly what they did.
Landlords do not enter the market to help people although they might choose to be supportive of tenants, but equally they might not. Few choose to be kind: I know this as one of the most common search terms used by new readers is ‘my tenants are scum.’ And recently: ‘need bouncers to evict my tenant.’ Nice.
Rentiers want to own something real, tangible and visible - to possess an object that is literally concrete, because shares are risky, and in some circumstances savers actually lose money. What else is there? Art? Antiques? Gold? Buy a B&B? (Well, you have to work at a B&B, which puts off many, and you can’t by law even be a homophobic bigot anymore.)
People buy property to rent as houses for ‘the future’ or to help their children. They buy up and then rent out property, not as a secure place for a fellow human being to occupy into their dotage, but a block of money to be wallowed in by the owner, a wedge of cash blighted and infested by pesky, flawed human tenants.
And landlords might still be tempted to buy a dovecot (what I call newbuilds) its value dropping by the minute, or purchase buildings outside of their area of knowledge, in a different town or a neighbourhood unknown to them, where wise people and most tenants fear to tread, no matter how ‘well-appointed, convenient for amenities and sensitively refurbished' the place might be.
Landlords sometimes inherit unsellable homes from dear departed relatives, and are forced to rent them out. Others might want to move themselves, but rent because they’ve sold their house and are stuck waiting to buy a new one.
The point is this: very few people actually choose to be, or set out determined to be landlords. Have you ever heard a rentier saying: ‘Ah - landlording – it’s in my blood! My mother’s father’s great-grandparents were landlords - it’s all I know.”
This causes all the problems. Few people want to be landlords, and are rarely prepared for the expense, time, annoyance and panic-stricken calls while on holiday about broken ballcocks (sorry Landgirl!) Few have proper landlord insurance, but many have prejudices, and think their former home is still their castle: often why it all goes so very, tragically, horribly wrong. And it’s usually the tenant who suffers.