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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… 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.

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