This is OneLandlords response to Penny Anderson, the Guardian’s landlord friendly feature writer who has penned an article about “How to be an excellent landlord” ( click here )
In her article, Ms. Anderson sets about explaining her ten point plan on how landords should treat their property and their tenants. There is of course, nothing wrong with this, we all need help and advice sometimes, but as this particular help is from Ms. Anderson and her Guardian friends, don’t expect it to be either useful or friendly. However, do expect it to be patronising, and remember when reading it, that this is from the same person who in a recent article, called landlords “oppressive” simply because they ask for background checks on potential tenants!
In return for her warm and comforting words of wisdom to landlords, OneLandlord has provided some equal words of wisdom to Ms. Anderson and her merry band of Generation Renters ? Below (listed 1-10) is Ms. Anderson’s recommendations to landlords, and our response to her is below each item;
1. Do repairs promptly.
We agree, landlords should do repairs promptly, not least because it’s in their interest to keep on top of the properties maintenance. But they can only do those repairs when or if they are told about them. Tenants have a responsibility to report repairs to their landlord but many do not, at least not until the simple repair has become a full refurbishment! Tenants who do not pay their rent have a habit of not saying anything about repairs until they eventually catch up on their rent, that’s when the landlord gets the long list of repairs which the tenant failed to report earlier, most of which are now quite big jobs but would not have been had they been reported on time – was that something to do with the rent arrears ? Oh, and whilst on the subject, don’t forget that tenants also have a responsibility for repairs, the minor ones! So please don’t call the landlord at nine o’clock on a Sunday evening to inform them that a handle has fallen off a cupboard door, why not try fixing it, like we all have to do!
2. Don’t visit unannounced.
Quite right, landords should not just turn up unannounced, but tenants should allow the landlord access when they are given the correct notice instead of refusing it! (which, by the way, they agreed to when they signed their tenancy agreement). Tenants who do not allow landlords access to inspect, or worse, do not allow access for important safety items such as gas certificates (yes, I know it’s unbelievable, but it’s true!) must have something to hide mustn’t they, or why would the prevent it? And then there are those tenants who don’t allow access for landlords to show prospective tenants around the property when they themselves are leaving the tenancy. Tenants that do this are preventing the landlord from earning their legitimate income, why would anybody want to do that?
3. Treat letting homes like a business, not as if you are graciously allowing strangers to stay in your home.
Somewhat contradictory to Ms Andersons later recommendation in item nine where she doesn’t want landlords to be friendly! The fact is that tenants are strangers aren’t they? at least they are until the landlord gets to know them. A landlord can only know who they have in their property once the tenant has the keys, by which point it may be too late. Many landlords will have lived in the property as their main residence and may find it difficult to disassociate themselves, so in these circumstances, a bit of understanding might not go amiss. And, whilst it is still the law, let us not forget who’s name is actually on the deeds, the person who pays the mortgage, and therefore who actually owns the property – the landlord!
4. Be mindful that human beings, not vermin, pay to live in your property.
The use of the word “vermin” sums up this person (and her newspapers) hatred of Landlords. I can’t think of any landlord I know who would treat people as as “vermin” and this particular “how to be a better landlord” comment from Ms. Anderson simply isn’t worth OneLandlord responding to – we have no words!
5. Provide good-quality fittings and furniture.
Indeed, but the deal should work both ways; tenants should return those same good quality furniture and fitting as good quality furniture and fittings, and not in the total disrepair landlords often get their property back in; and “fair wear and tear” doesn’t even come into it!
6. Do not store your own possessions in the property’s precious cupboard space.
We agree, the properties cupboard spaces and indeed other spaces, such as the garage or sheds should be there for the exclusive use of the tenant during the period of the tenancy. So why oh why do so many tenants leave their unwanted items in those exclusive places when they quit the property? Why do tenants send messages to landords saying such things as “we thought you might need these?” well think again, landlords don’t need tenants old items, those items which tenants can’t be bothered taking to the local tip!. So, yes, please do have exclusive use of any storage, but please take ALL your belongings with you when you leave!
7. I shall say it again: let us decorate.
Ok, go ahead and decorate, but don’t leave your psychedelic, grunge, goth, garage or other freaky and badly done DIY decorations for the landlord to try and attempt at re-letting the property, because the landlord won’t be able to! If the landlord asks you to put the property back to as it was when you moved in, then put it back, and that doesn’t mean doing a poor “dot and dab” cover up job because you can’t be bothered to do what you agreed to in the first place! Of-course as landlords, we know that tenants won’t do this, they’ll simply walk away and leave it for the landlord re-decorate, and that is why landlords do not like tenants to decorate!
8. If you are tolerant of occasional late payments, for example, tenants may not call at 2am on a Sunday demanding urgent hot water repairs, accepting that it takes a while to summon elusive plumbers.
The truth is, tenants tend to demand urgent heating/water repairs, not because they know or understand that it t takes a while to get a plumber/engineer out, but because tenants tend to call at 2am on a Sunday morning expecting someone to be with them at 2.30 am on a Sunday morning! And seeing how you mentioned 2.00 am on a Sunday and not 2.00pm on a Sunday afternoon, do you possibly think it’s fair and reasonable to call any one at that ungodly hour in the morning, unless it was a real emergency? Let’s face it, not having hot water isn’t exactly an emergency is it?
9. Don’t be creepy, expecting tenants to become mates, like the former landlord who was most put out when we rebuffed his offer to come round for “a smoke”.
We honestly do not know of anyone who would wish to become best mates with their tenant, and we couldn’t think of a worse business/client relationship to do this! So this one does surprise us little! But if there is an explanation, it’s probably a brand new landlord who is somewhat whet behind the ears and a bit excited about the prospect of being a landlord. Leave it a year and we’re pretty confident that the tenant, the LHA, the government, HMRC, journalists like you, the courts and the system will have ground them down to the point that they’ll probably wonder why the heck they even bothered being “friendly” in the first place!
10. If you plan on selling up, inform your tenant first, not last, as has happened to myself and several friends.
Given the notice periods needed for the landlord to get vacant possession, we can’t see how this could be the case. But if it is, we don’t think tenants are going to need to worry about this for much longer. Looking at the ways the government, local authorities and other anti-landlord bodies are trying to restrict landlords businesses, some agencies and others are getting very excited about the world of anti-landlords and see it as an opportunity to stop landlords selling their property at all, unless there is a good enough reason ! like they may be facing bankruptcy for example! It’s hard to believe but it is actually true.