Sunday, 24 October 2010

So, what kind of landlord are you?

Or it could be read "what kind of landlord do you have?"

As individuals, we all have our boundaries and limits - how much information about ourselves we are willing to divulge to complete strangers (some a lot more than others, just read facebook, myspace, twitter, etc), how much money we want to spend on things, how much time we want to spend with our friends, and so on. It all makes us who we are. The same goes for being a landlord - when reading blogs written about landlords by tenants, we may seem all the same money-grabbing irresponsible beings, but the truth is we're not.

Most landlords will have rented a home at some point in their life, I can't imagine that it is that common to have just inherited property or enough money to buy property to become a landlord without first being on the other side and working up to it. So we'll all have our stories and the "ah, yes, that one".

Here are some that I've come across, maybe you'll have too, or maybe you are one of these.

The Handyman Landlord
Actually, this wasn't one of my landlords but an ex-colleague. He was always in her flat doing something, fixing something. She got a scare one time having woke up from a nap to find her landlord there doing some DIY. This type can be a double-edged sword, on the one hand the property will be well maintained, but then you can't walk out of your bathroom with hair dripping wet and just loosely covered by an old towel (unless you don't mind, as we all have a different level of comfort zone).
A word of advice to landlords who are in the habit of just popping in, legally you are required to give reasonable notice (usually 24 hours), otherwise if the tenant feels insecure or threatened in their own home (and it is theirs, not yours) you can be arrested for harassment.

The Over-Familiar Landlord
I had one of these once. It wasn't bad, but it did somettimes get a bit much. Some landlords forget that your relationship is purely a business one - the only reason why you know them is because you are paying to live in their property. It isn't because you like them and you want to be their friend - maybe they want to be your friend because you have such a great personality but it isn't the same for you.
My landlord wanted to be my mother - she would tell me that she told her friends I was like her adopted daughter (except I wasn't) and she would introduce me to her family. There were perks, sometimes she would bake me biscuits or bring me apples from her garden, but then sometimes I got told I was too messy.If I wanted to be told off for being messing I can get that for free - live at home with my parents.

The 2-D Landlord
Also masquerades as the "only-on-paper-but-not-in-person" landlord. I think we've all had one of these - they are the ones that fuel the urban myths about landlords. They never do anything, you can never get hold them, their property could be swallowed up by quick sand and they wouldn't seem to care as long as your cheques don't bounce. These are a nightmare as you are usually tied in to some sort of contract which prevents you from leaving the property for some time (usually 60 days) and so you'll be living with compromises until then. Boo hoo.
My experience with one of these was when I rented a property where I paid the rent to someone else, all calls and problems were dealt with by someone else (and they weren't the managing agent). Then one day I received a court notice through the letter box regarding a year of mortgage arrears - it seemed the landlord wasn't in person to pay that either. I promptly moved out and the landlord wasn't in person to get the last month's rent off me.

Slightly one up from the "only-on-paper" is the "only-on-telephone". You hear from these but you never get to lay eyes on them.

The Over-Anxious Landlord
I think if you're going to let out your property and have a told stranger live there, you have to be a bit relaxed about the fact that things are going to get damaged a bit - walls are going to get marked, stuff is going to break or not work and things will go wrong time to time. Some people just can't detach themselves, they take the inventory too seriously and they think they have ghosts for tenants. Or maybe these types are just putting it on and it's a ploy to keep their tenant's deposit.

The Thief
I haven't called these "landlords" because I don't think they deserve the label, calling them so just gives all other landlords a bad name. They are hated by all, other landlords, the letting agents, tenants and especially their own ones.
My husband recently came across a family of these - like a family of vampires. They suck your blood and leave you dry. This particular "coven" let and manage their own properties, they never maintain their properties, they expect their tenants to live in filth, they don't respond to their tenants' calls and if they do it's usually to tell the tenant to keep quiet or face legal action. Then at the end of it all, they keep the tenant's deposit. Why do people rent properties from them? Well, a lot of the times people don't, they pull out after reading the negative press about them (very popular forum thread) but then you get the ones who don't know and fall for the empty promises that properties will be cleaned or repaired.
People who own property and use it to con other's money should be seen for what they are, thieves, they are not landlords as they do not take on any of the responsibilities of a landlord. They are greedy and are just like any other hustler except they use property as part of their scam. How do you spot them? It's hard, but like most scams, there is always that element of "it's too good to be true" to suck you in.

That's pretty much my fair share of landlords. I am one myself now and I hope I am a fair one - there when I'm needed and undetectable when I'm not. It's like being a fairy godmother, and that is a whole different article in itself.

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