Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Accidental Landlord

With the current economy and market trends more and more people are finding themselves in situations they don’t want to be or are new to them. One of them is becoming an accidental landlord because they have a property they would have sold but for various reasons have been stuck with it and are therefore renting it out instead. For example, you own a flat, you have gotten married and now live in your new spouse’s home, you would have sold your flat but there is no buyer so you let it out instead. The concept of the accidental landlord isn’t actually a new one but it has become more common recently.

Help! I’ve become an Accidental Landlord.
Don’t panic you haven’t caught an incurable disease. One of the problems of becoming an accidental landlord is that you didn’t plan to come into this business and so you may be less well prepared than those that did. People who purposefully become landlords have probably researched carefully, read books and attended courses. That is not to say that all accidental landlords haven’t done that but the likelihood is that one is not even aware of these things in the first place. Don’t feel bad about it, it’s a massive learning curve and part of the learning is finding out about the things you should know. We are not all the same, how much we want to learn and invest of ourselves into being a landlord varies between each person but what is important is fulfilling the basics.
This isn’t a how-to guide. There are already many well written articles on the internet relating to all the aspects of becoming a successful landlord. This is more of a “pep talk” for those who have become landlords reluctantly. Do you need this? Yes you do.

Pep talk 1: This is only a temporary thing, so I don’t need to take it too seriously.
Wrong, yes you do. Being a landlord means you are running your own business. If you run your business poorly you will lose money. As with any business, there are legal requirements, you need to familiarise yourself with these so you don’t get into trouble and also to protect yourself from those who may cause you trouble.
You don’t know how long you may be in this business for, so you do need to take it seriously.

Pep talk 2: I didn’t become a landlord by choice, and I have many other more important things I need to deal with in my life, so this is not a priority for me.
Unfortunately you are the owner of a property with someone living in it, be responsible for that. The home they have made in your property is just as important as your own home.
If you don’t have the time, delegate; find a good managing agent.
If your property is due to become empty, delegate; there are various services around that will help you find a tenant in good time.
What you should not do is leave things because you have other commitments and you do not see this as your main job. Doing nothing or leaving things to the last minute will cost you more in the long run.

Pep talk 3: There must be an easier way that involves less work and less stress.
Yes and no. There are basic requirements that need to be met with respect to your property (there are many sources on the internet that will tell you what these are).
Again, you can find a good managing agent which will do most of the work for you but it will cost you. Choosing a managing agent is a task in itself and making an informed choice is very important.
It is important to realise that this is a business and things can be unpredictable, being psychologically prepared for this is important especially in coping with the stress.

For those who have truly become landlords accidentally and unwillingly, do it like you mean it. If you feel your motivation waning, refer back to the pep talks above and soldier on until you can find a way out.

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