There’s a line in the classic film The Godfather that neatly sums up what landlords need to know about letting properties.
“It’s nothing personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business,” drawls a brooding Michael Corleone as he plots a daring and ruthless double hit.
Because we are law-abiding citizens, we’re certainly not suggesting you become a cold-blooded Mafia boss or fraternise with Sicilian mobsters.
But we do recommend that our landlords take a business-like approach when they let a property.
One of the biggest mistakes a landlord can make is to allow their personal feelings to impede their decision making; this often happens when:
• A landlord has a strong emotional attachment to a property (perhaps they used to live in it, or inherited it from a loved one). When a tenant moves in, the landlord views every minor scrape to the woodwork or carpet stain as a personal affront. Landlords need to accept that some wear and tear is inevitable.
• A landlord has carried out DIY work at the property to their own taste instead of keeping things neutral, making it less appealing to tenants. They may also see no need for electrical and gas safety inspections because they’ve “had a look over it themselves”. Fact: gas and electrical inspections are legal requirements.
• The landlord knew the tenant before they moved in, so the professional boundaries are blurred. Things often go awry because the landlord hasn’t conducted a reference check (because a friend or family member has vouched for the tenant). Even worse, some landlords don’t make their tenants sign a contract; it’s all done on a wink and a handshake.
• The tenant/landlord relationship grows too cosy over time. As a result, the landlord is lax about inspections or hasn’t raised the rent for years because the tenant is a “friend”.
• The tenant/landlord relationship becomes so toxic that the landlord loses perspective. (As they say in The Godfather: “Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.”) Determined to settle a score with a nightmare tenant, the landlord cuts corners on inspections or evictions – a decision that later proves costly. Sometimes the most financially astute course of action is to compromise (even if it is through gritted teeth).
Being a landlord isn’t just about managing a property; it’s about working with people. Whether it’s dealing with a tenant who has lost their job and can’t pay their rent, or managing a messy dispute between a tenant and neighbour, you need to remain calm, clear-headed, and professional.
Landlords don’t have to be unsympathetic or insensitive but do need to balance their duty of care with their financial responsibilities.
One way to manage these difficult situations is to draw on the expertise of us, we will be able to:
• Come up with workable solutions to all manner of problems (as experienced agents we have seen all sorts over the years).
• Ensure landlords stay on the right side of the law.
• Talk to people from all walks of life and clearly articulate a tenant’s legal obligations.
• Step back from complex scenarios and take a broader view.
We can take the stress, emotion, and guesswork out of managing a property. Please get in touch if you’d like us to help you.