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Property Hawk

Troublesome Tenants Come Together

The thing with managing a portfolio of buy-to-let property is that for much of the time you don't have to do anything, apart from check your bank account and watch the money roll in.  I'm sitting here in a hotel room in Singapore. No 9 - 5 lifestyle for me.  I left that behind a long time ago. 

Sounds too good to be true?

The reality of managing a letting business is that you have nothing to do.  In fact you forget that you have a business at all.  And then all of a sudden; when you least expect and need it, the curse of the troublesome tenants.

Picture the scene.  I've just arrived in Singapore after an over night flight.  I've finally made it to the comfort of my hotel room, after a sleep deprived night, and have literally just walked through the door with the porter carrying the bags in.  Ring - it's the mobile.  All lit up on my iphone is the name of one of my tenants. 

Do I ignore it?  Do I answer in case it's something really serious?  I take the plunge: "HELLO".  It transpires that the tenant was locked out of the property because the key/lock had failed.  This in itself wouldn't have been annoying, but for the fact that I knew that the key wasn't a good copy, and had asked the tenant to collect the original from the letting agent.  They hadn't, and my suspicion remains that there was nothing wrong with the lock at all…..it was really a problem with the key. 

Anyway, the upshot of all this was that rather than getting a lock smith in, the boyfriend had to do his 'macho bit' by breaking in the door.  The tenant as usual was phoning to ask me what I was going to do to solve the problem! ( I resisted suggesting - ask your boyfriend not to break the door down) So a few minuted later, having set the ball rolling via a series of emails to tradesmen, I then noticed another one of my tenants had re-surfaced. 

This time with a problem over windows that were difficult to shut. Landlord hounded? So from a position of no problems, and the fact that I’m half way across the world on holiday I'm suddenly hounded by a couple of baying tenants!  AAArrrrgh! 

However, there are several lessons for any landlord and particular a newbie or potential landlord:

1.  Tenants phoning you with problems goes with the territory.  If you don't want the hassle of tenants contacting you, you should either stick your money in a building society or use a letting agent (but then expect the same calls but just during office hours).

2. Get yourself a "Mick'. If you can build up a network of trusted trades people then whilst the phone call from the tenant is pain, the solution is never further than a short call or email away.

3. Don't see the call as a problem.  Just, as any top sports person does, learn to see 'pressure' as a privilege for being able to compete at a top level.  Pestering tenants is a sign that you have been successful in getting in tenants in the first place, and that they care enough to contact you about the problem.

So if the retort is: " tenants, who'd have em?" 

My answer is me… every time!

Let's not forget it's the tenants that pay the bills and despite most of the time landlords getting paid for doing nothing, occasionally we do also have to do a 'little' work for the privilege of owning our own letting business.



Comments (8)

Wise words! :)
#1 - Oscar - 02/08/2013 - 10:41
Troublesome tenants
Even wiser words ..... If you don't want your holiday disturbed sort out that duff key & sticking window problem promptly as soon as you are aware of them. By not doing so, as well as all the hassle of a disturbed holiday your repair costs are now much higher!
#2 - Jasper - 02/08/2013 - 11:43
LANDLORDS PAID FOR DOING NOTHING ?
I wish I could say I got paid for doing nothing. I have been working flat out since the end of November I have just about finished the refurbishment of a flat. Completely redcorated another. Sorted out x 4 properties that had suffered from water ingress, and am still "encouraging" my roofer to start work on three of them. And just for "fun" am in the process of marketing three properties as well as chasing up some running repairs on two others. I have jsut come home for lunch having been working at a flat for 4 hours and will be returning after lunch. Then there is the admin............it just never stops. I take it on my stride but I feel I work very hard for what I get It feels like a full time job.And for the record I have 9 properties Paid for doing nothing I don't think so !!!!!
#3 - trish ireland - 02/08/2013 - 12:28
Troublesome Tenants
I always think that being a Landlord is like flying- 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror! I have a friend and his wife that keep a 'works fone' that tenants call - I send a letter to all my tenants informing them of my being away and they should call the works fone (reminding them of the number!). My friend receives pay for 'property management' and is himself my 'odd job' man. So if a tenant calls with a problem my friend responds and his hourly rate then kicks in. He is given a petty cash float to meet any unseen expenses and I sit on a beach somewhere. Obviously more serious problems are communicated to me. I also inform all 'my' workmen that my friend is running the show and they should respond accordingly.
You need someone you can trust with your business but it's worth it. When you get home you sit down, pour yourself a double single malt and phone the said friend and hopefully you are ready and prepared to hear all the gory details!
Don't you just love it!
#4 - John / Auchtermuchty - 02/08/2013 - 13:33
Trouble
Of course its always the stupid landlords fault. Of 5 emergency call outs where it was my problem... one was the tenant couldn't lock the door because they were using a key they had cut. one was a tenant who fitted their own cooker and it blew the system. one was mould on a wall caused by (both gas engineer and EPC guy said it was like a sauna in house) not opening windows. one was ...now please stop laughing !! A tenant stating that the central heating had gone wrong. The gas guy called out was told...''the radiators are very hot but not giving out any heat !!!! A friend fared no better. His tenants in a flat said the underfloor heating wasn't working. When he visited he asked where the heating controls had gone. We didn't like the look of them so threw them away !! Or the non working washing machine. Tenants had run out of electric so machine would not open so they smashed door off. And his best ? Accused him of being the cause of being fined for having no road tax because they had paid the rent. We are rrapidly losing our hair !!!
#5 - Sheerwater - 02/08/2013 - 15:37
This week alone
One tenant I, yes I, called in EH because of damp. She is witholding rent since December because of this. I finally got the EH round and they told to heat the flat, ventilate it unblock the fixed ventilation and stop drying washing in the flat. She has taken no notice what so ever so now we have had to go in a rectify the damage she has caused since December. I have told her she will get the bill for this damage, oh and of course she is now on an Accelerated Possesion Notice.

Another. Agreed to do an inspection on Friday. The tenant phoned me to say she couldn't make it just as I was pulling up. I said no problem I will use my LL key only to find she has changed the lock. When quized about this she said it was a while back and she didn't know she coudn't do this without my permission and providing me with a key. Of course its in the TA but they only ever quote the bits they want to bash the LL with. She got a bill for £25 for my wasted time. Lets see if she is there on the new appointment on Monday!!

Another one with a blocked kitchen sink. Phones up "you have a problem with your sink being blocked" er, no I don't please see your TA and you will see its your responcibility to keep drains clear. Never heard any more on that one.

And finally another one ran out of hot water and cold bathroom water because a ball cock got stuck. He reckoned that 2 hours (on a Sunday) to fix this was far to long and would be contacting his solicitor because he has rights. His drinking water was unaffected.

I keep threatening to write a blog because sometimes people just wouldn't believe what LL's get thrown at them.

Sorry no spell checker on this device. So just muddle your way through.
#6 - Kevin - 02/10/2013 - 18:43
troublesome tenants
paid for doing nothing? i wish! i have 19 properties all around 100 years old, theres not a day goes by that something needs fixing and to top that i work full time 45 hours plus a week, away from home for one of the largest companies in the UK try that for stress levels
#7 - darren - 02/11/2013 - 14:21
troublesome tenants
I had a new bathroom suite fitted for my new tennants 2 yrs ago it was all finished for the november them to move in all well on xmas eve as my family and I sat down to dinner the phone rang , oh hello we have a leak and water is flying everywherehave you turned the water off em no well I suggest you do I did show you where it was ok but what you going to do about my leak, trying to get a plummer isnt easy at the best of times but at xmas give up
The next tennants in the house rang to say they had a leak I duley went round and couldnt find the leak I got a plummer in he couldnt find the leak I got a builder in still couldnt find the leak I tried for weeks as it was only intermitant she then phoned the enviromental health to say I was fixing her leak eventullay it was traced to her washing machine the pipe had split not happy at all when I presented her with a bill for £295
#8 - Big Kev - 12/15/2015 - 14:24
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