Why I’d prefer a non-paying tenant over an empty property.

I know. I sound insane. But we all have to make business choices, and this one is mine to make. Keep reading and I’ll explain more.

I’ve been reading more and more about landlords who are scared to rent their properties right now. They’re worried the tenant won’t pay and they will have a nightmare to evict them.

All of these things are true.

There is nothing I can say to make that situation any better.

Maybe rent protection insurance? I have no idea if it works or what the small-print says because I’ve never taken a policy.

Not even now.

Not even now in these uncertain times.

The reason why I don’t?

I believe in active and close management. That means no matter what, you always, always ensure lines of communication are kept open.

Trust me, I know it’s hard when emotions get in the way and you think/ know you’re being fleeced. But communication is really the only way to solve any issues.

So, I’ve had a property come empty lately and we’re about to tenant it again. Unsurprisingly, it’s going to somebody on benefits (lost their job through Covid) and to be honest I feel happier with that.

Now, I know a lot of landlords don’t like taking tenants on benefits, but I gotta say, right now that is a pretty secure option. Even if you do take a tenant on who’s got a job, you have to be mindful they are only one pay check away from being made redundant.

I know that sounds harsh, but this is the reality of the situation.

To be frank, this was always the reality, but I don’t think a lot of people realised it.

So, why am I still willing to rent a property even if the tenant stops paying?

Because empty properties are expensive properties.

When you have an empty property it is you who’s footing all of the bills: council tax, water, electricity, gas. They’re all yours to pay. And then you have the mortgage and the insurance – which by the way for an empty property – will increase in premiums and lower in the risk coverage.

Empty properties are also a target for thieves and squatters. Scrap metal is still a booming business and opportunists will take any opportunity they can to strip your place of copper, lead and anything they think they can get any value from.

In March this year I had a property empty for one day.

One day.

Later that night, thieves broke in and stripped the wall lights, the plastic cover of the electric shower and the bathroom door. I have no idea what was so special about this list of items – but what I can tell you is the resulting bill to put these things right was thousands. I ended up having to rewire, install a new shower (frustrating given the one that was in there was just a few month’s old) and supplying and fixing a bathroom door.

It sounds bad and maybe you’re thinking the property is in a high crime area – it’s not.

I got unlucky.

The agent (now fired) had left the lean-to door on the yale lock and not locked the kitchen door with the mortice lock (invalidating my insurance policy). That evening a freak wind storm brought down the back fence panel leaving the property exposed and on view.

All it took was a random passer-by with bad intentions to apply a little pressure to the yale lock and bingo – full access was theirs.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me at the time, I wasn’t aware the previous tenants had taken all the curtains and so to anyone passing by, it was quite clearly an empty property.

And so, as I say: empty properties are expensive properties.

Which brings me back to my earlier point and why I’d prefer a non-paying tenant over an empty property.

And it’s to do with risk assessment.

An empty property will always be a risk. There is always a risk something may happen. Somebody may break in, somebody may illegally move in, the roof may leak and you may not know about it, the boiler may blow up and you don’t know about it.

Every which way I cut this cake: an empty property is a risk – and it’s one that costs me money rather than making me money

A non-paying tenant?

The risk, I believe, is smaller.

Firstly, most tenants are paying their rents. That means you already start out with more chances of getting your rent than not.

Secondly, landlords should thoroughly reference check and get a guarantor where you can.

Thirdly, welcome people on benefits and feel secure in the knowledge the state is paying.

I know these are scary times and the world is shifting, but it’s critical to assess the risks. Not doing anything, can also be a risk.

Why the British are falling out of love with property investment

Read any news report about the property market in the last few weeks and you’d be forgiven for not realising we are in the middle of a pandemic with a recession looming, prices just keep rising.

And yet, landlords are selling and no tranche of newbies are making their way to take their place. RICS data shows in the years from 2017-19, demand for rental properties has been steady, but there has been a consistent decline in new landlords.

Hamptons data shows the number of UK landlords has hit a seven-year low and The Mortgage Works’ (TMW) Buy to Let Barometer research in April this year, found landlord confidence in the future of their letting business had fallen to record lows.

Of course, you could say this is to be expected. Landlords are in the frontline for dealing with the fallout from Covid-19 and non-paying tenants. The eviction ban and then the introduction of a six-month notice period to regain possession, along with massive court delays, meant landlords watched helpless as their assets got further and further out of reach.

Commentators popularly voice it’s all about the money – landlords are cashing in due to the tax situation and ever-changing legislation which are seeing expenses multiply and profits dwindle.

In part, I agree with this. But, I don’t think these explanations really get to the heart of the issue and the reason why the British have fallen out of love with property investment.

Control is what I really believe this is about.

Back in the early days of buy-to-let people invested for their future, for their pension, a nest egg they could sell up, a bit of extra cash on the side. Owning and renting out a property you could go and see, touch and feel, was more real than stocks and shares. Plus, with a property you also had the chance to do it up – you could add value, you could control your asset and maximise it to your heart’s content.

Of course, you could also leverage. And, unlike the stock market, the property market is not as volatile. Plus, where a stock may be worthless in years to come, a property will always be worth something – and even if prices drop – you could always go and live in it yourself.

Property, therefore, was seen as a safe bet.

But 2020 has shown us, while property is fundamentally the most basic human requirement and we all need somewhere to lockdown to, property can also be a liability.

Owning a property where the tenant is not paying rent and yet the landlord still gets stiffed with the ongoing maintenance and repairs bill is a dangerous concoction. Add to that the government stitch-up of landlords footing the never-ending bills to meet ever-changing legislation and yet not being allowed access to their asset, makes this a situation about to blow.

Who in their right mind would invest in an asset class where you have no power to make the customer pay and yet get lumped with all the expenses? No business can continue without income and only mounting bills to pay.

Landlords are now exercising the only control they have left: to sell.

3 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Became A Landlord

1. Everybody lies

Look, I know people don’t always mean to lie and sometimes they thought they were telling the truth, when in fact the opposite was true, but that’s life.

Everybody lies.

The sooner you get used to this line of the thinking, the easier your landlord life will be.

And when I say that, don’t think for one minute I’m just talking about tenants, nah, I’m talking about everybody.

I’m talking about the solicitor you use to purchase a buy-to-let and who says everything’s fine and then you learn two years later there’s a clause that prohibits you from letting the property and the freeholder’s on your back threatening you with a multitude of sins and you’re thinking WTF?

I’m talking about the builder you pay handsomely to install a new bathroom and who you think has done a good job to only learn months later they didn’t bother to put a frame in and the bath pulls away from the wall and floods the downstairs flat.

I’m talking about the housing officer who wants to rehome a vulnerable family and who promises you the property will be monitored and looked after and who does a disappearing act – along with the vulnerable family – and who leave your property smashed up and in smithereens.

I’m talking about so many things I could go on and on and it would burn your ears with the boredom, but the fact remains: Everybody lies.

Get used to it and get on with it.

2. There’s no Lamborghini in the drive

I swear when I started out in property there was a promise of untold riches. Before long, I thought, I’ll be on a helicopter jetting off to a 5-star isle and all will be well in the world.

No.

For the run of the mill landlord, that’s not the case. For the very few, it will be, but my golly you need a lot of bloody good stock!

A few years ago a good friend of mine said to me ‘Why buy another house, it won’t make you happy’. And I looked at him and I thought, what a dick. What a dumbass thing to say. I love property, of course I should buy more, how else am I ever going to get my lambo!

But later that night, I realised he was right.

It was a turning point in my life when I realised, you know what: I have enough. I don’t have the lambo and the helicopter and the rest of the shebang I figured would come, but I do have a lot. I have way more than so many others and so I should be happy with what I have.

And I don’t remember the Buddhist saying, but it’s something like the pursuit of happiness which will make you unhappy. And something to do with clinging onto things and stuff.

As I say, I’m clearly not Buddhist, but I have reached a new level of understanding and meaningfulness in my life where I know money and even the pursuit of it will bring me no joy.

And I’m ok with that.

I’ve made my peace and I know, while the council and many others seem to believe I have a magic money tree at the end of the garden, I know magic is only for fairy-tales. And I’m way too old and far too cynical to believe in all that razzmatazz now.

3.Get rich quick is for suckers

In the beginning I read about property prices doubling every seven years. There was a graph that was touted about which had all these rising lines showing how rich you could be if you invested in property.

This is not the case across the whole of the UK.

Yes, I agree some places have seen stratospheric rises, but there are many areas where growth has yet to get back to 2003 levels.

Yes, there are some developers who make shedloads of money by flipping and selling and I’ve been fortunate to have done a few deals, but as an ongoing business model, it’s tiring and time-consuming. My developer friend tells me his life is like ‘feast or famine’, I would add it’s also a roller-coaster of risk and I’ve known many to lose the shirt off their backs on a particular deal.

And that’s the other thing – who knew you could lose money in property? I certainly didn’t when I started almost two decades ago. Back then, I was thinking it would only be a couple of years in the game and then I’d be out partying with aforementioned lambo not giving a shit about anything coz I would be bathing in riches.

Again, not true.

Yes, of course you can make money in property, but it’s a slow, hard, long game. Play it quicker and maybe you’ll win, but maybe you’ll lose.

What I can tell you is all this time on, I didn’t think I’d still be renting out property for a living.

*

When I started, I didn’t really have an end-game; I had a goal, a dream. And if truth be known, none of it included me still being a landlord all these years later.

And don’t for one minute think I’m having regrets about my life, because I’m not. I’m just sharing some of the things I wish I’d known then, before I started.

But the truth, regardless of everything I wish I had known before I became a landlord, is that I would do it all over again.

Get Ready To Learn The Truth Behind Buy-To-Let

‘Parasite? The Secret Diary of a Landlord’ is set to take the property world by storm – sharing the truth the other side of the door.

Publication date 15th October. Buy your pre-order copy here

Buy your pre-order copy here

Cashflow is king for landlords to make it through Covid-19 (& the aftermath!)

In real estate terms, I’d classify as a baby. I may have nearly two decades of experience, but in terms of market cycles, that’s not so much. Yes, I have lived through and survived the financial disaster that was 2008, and I managed to hang onto my hat, but still I don’t take anything for granted.

I was fortunate to reap the benefits of cheap credit and some stunning mortgage deals scored before the 2008-mess, but as I’ve learned: Good things never last.

Enter George Osborne.

As a portfolio landlord with properties nationwide I can assure you his plans were pretty disastrous for somebody like me, especially when that somebody like me didn’t own the properties in a company due to previous tax planning that then got scrapped.

But there we are, life has a habit of happening while you make plans.

Osborne’s tax changes worked – especially section 24. He forced me to sell some good stock to keep my business going and made me wonder what to do about some of the lower priced/ higher yielding stock that had yet to recover any values – despite being held for over 15 years.

Perhaps many people will be surprised to learn that, they’ll think – but the property market has been amazeballs these past few years? You must be a crap investor. I would reply, yes, but not everywhere. The UK market is big and unequal and is one of the reasons why I have no interest in ‘averages’.

It’s a questionable and galling process to sell off good stock (I term that the stuff that really exploded in value) to keep the bad stock (those where capital values are firmly pancakes but earn decent yields).

And it’s something I debate often with myself when I look again at places I sold and what they’d be worth now (don’t recommend this).

But the thinking then, as it is now: I cannot pay a gas bill with capital gains unless I sell.

Equity is meaningless unless you sell (or remortgage – but this doesn’t work for me with S24)

First and foremost, for any business to succeed you need cash flow.

Cash is what pays your bills, ensures you keep your stock in good condition, gives you the ability to pay the tax and run your business. It’s a bugger I have to pay so much, but I remind myself often: Paying tax is a sign of success (dress it up anyway you want to make yourself feel better!)

Anyway, I’ve been selling off for a number of years now and I know that goes against a lot of what other investors do, but I’m OK with my decisions – I’ve also been buying more, but that’s a different story.

Anyways… in March this year, I decided to start selling more. I’ll get in on the ‘Boris Bounce’ was my thinking.

You know as you sit there reading this, that didn’t happen.

What did happen is Coronovirus and a complete freezing of the property market. Viewings weren’t allowed, house moves weren’t allowed, evictions still aren’t allowed. Pretty much anything to do with the normal functioning of the property market wasn’t allowed.

Which is a mighty big sucker of a suck.

Of course, the media claims the market has now turned, properties are all shiny and sought after again, but when I called up a few agents (and some were even in desirable commuter belts down South) the response I got was not what I thought.

And so I’ve been mulling on this for the last few weeks (and when I don’t know what to do, I do nothing) and then I said to myself: What have I learned this time?

I know we’re going to hit a massive recession, lots of people are going to lose their jobs and the outlook for the next five years is bleak.

So why am I not selling, when I intended to sell?

Despite everything – the world falling apart, loads of gloom and doom on the horizon, everything going to pot yada-yada – people will always need somewhere to shelter.

People will always need somewhere to lockdown and to hide from the world.

Regardless of anything else happening on the planet, property is a key need, and that’s my business.

I fully expect the government to mess about more with policies and taxes and for me to question again why I’m in the market, but for now, I still believe what I have are assets. The market will fluctuate, nose-dive, top-out and everything else in-between, but the most important thing is to remain on-board for the ride and come out the other side.

Your property planning may not be perfect and things may not turn out quite how you wanted, intended, hoped for or anything else. But if you’ve got cashflow, you can go the journey. It may be bumpy and lumpy and you may have regrets for signing up for the ride, but remember this: everybody needs somewhere to live, love and lockdown in.

Why pay rent if you don’t have to?

That appears to be the rhetoric of tenant pressure groups and the government. But it may as well get extended further: Why pay rent at all?

I mean, what’s more important than a roof over your head?

The narrative is incredulous.

The knee-jerk laws and U-turns are unbelievable.

How landlords are meant to pay for a property when the tenant is not paying rent is laughable. Mortgage holiday? What sort of holiday is it when it destroys your credit rating and adds thousands of pounds and months to your misery of debt?

And what is it with most of this country thinking the UK housing stock is free? Landlords are in a mountain of debt the scale of which no tenant will ever likely understand.

And yet, landlords are expected to foot the bill despite mounting debts.

But if a tenant decides not to pay – even if they’re in receipt of housing benefit – tough luck.

There is fuck all you as the landlord can do.

So why pay rent, if you don’t have to?

That’s the message this government is sending. Oh and by the way, let’s not only extend the eviction ban for another month, let’s also make landlords give tenants six months’ notice to leave and complete a plethora of paperwork with so many twists and turns it looks like a Covid-19 broadcast.

The attitude and last-minute policy changes are sickening.

Never before in my almost two decades of being a landlord have I ever felt so vulnerable. I have become stripped of all powers and any sort of protection, and yet the expectations that I am to provide safe accommodation accumulates with no let up – and potentially no rent. And no way of knowing if I will ever get my money back, or lose everything I put in.

I can only assume tenant groups are planning mass bankruptcies, because this is what this action feels like.

Only this week I’ve had to agree to damp work in a property at a cost of £2,800. I found the whole thing strange. I’ve owned the property for 15 years and have never had damp. Until a new tenant moved in two months ago.

This, to me, seemed a weird coincidence and thus I asked several people to attend to ascertain what was going on. This period of investigating what may be causing the sudden damp patches took a couple of weeks while various persons looked into the matter.

My tenant decided this was not acceptable. They called the council. The council then got heavy about the work. I said, hold on, I’m trying to work out why I’ve suddenly got damp, do you mind if I try and figure out what’s happening?

They didn’t give two flying fucks. All they wanted is a start date of the work and to see the problem solved.

But what if that tenant was not paying rent? What am I meant to do then? How on earth am I meant to pay for such expensive remedial work?

And this is what I find the most frightening about this situation, and it’s going to get worse.

If tenants are not paying their rent, landlords will struggle to pay their mortgages. But if tenants are not paying their rent and landlords are trying to subsidise a tenant’s living costs, how on earth will they be able to ensure the property remains in good condition?

I know these tenant pressure groups want ‘rent debt’ forgiven, but who will forgive a landlord for not complying with housing safety?

Who will a landlord call when the tenant has not paid the rent, but still expects the roof to be fixed? Who will the landlord ask for help when they can’t make ends meet and the property falls into disrepair?

There are no winners in this war. And it is a war that has been created unnecessarily.

Nobody argues whether it’s fair for a supermarket to charge for the food you want to eat, so why are people arguing whether it’s fair for a landlord to charge rent for the property you want to live in?

Perhaps if the Private Rental Sector (PRS) was made up of big companies we wouldn’t be having this debate. Big companies are not so easy to push about and screw over. But most landlords are little people, with no power.

The government have ensured the housing crisis is set to continue and they have hastened the demise of the PRS.

Little landlords have little pockets; people often forget that. Until they see the ‘For Sale’ board outside. Because that ‘For Sale’ sign, well, that’s the last vestige of a landlord’s power.

Parasite? The Secret Diary of a Landlord

Landlords are parasites.

It’s a phrase that gets bandied around a lot. Just start typing into Google ‘Landlords are…’ and it’s the top auto-fill suggestion.

I’ve been a landlord for almost twenty years. I like to think I do a good job (I’ve even won an award from the National Landlords Association for doing it well), but that doesn’t mean I get off lightly. My tenants – granted not all of them – have put me through hell. I’ve been close to a nervous breakdown too many times to tell. I think I still suffer from PTSD.

There are almost 2.6 million landlords in the UK with around 5.45 million rental properties (mydeposits.co.uk). What makes me different is the size of my portfolio and the national reach. I deal with every type of tenant from benefit claimants to high-end professionals. Let me tell you, shit still stinks the same, no matter where you come from.

The last few years have been tough. I’ve wondered many a time to sell up and quit. But still, despite the pressure and the pain, I love my tenants and my properties and I’d struggle to know what to do without them.

The idea of this book came about from a friend of mine. He urged me to write it having regaled him for many years with my various tales of human misery and utter craziness.

‘You couldn’t make it up!’ was what he’d say when I told him the latest shenanigans I’d been going through.

‘How about you? How’s your work?’ I’d reply.

‘Nowhere near as exciting or a story to tell as yours,’ He’d say.

And his response was something I’d heard from many friends. My workaday tales were the stuff of legend. Friends would text me and ask what the latest was on an ongoing situation I’d told them about.

They all wanted in on the action. To live vicariously through my real life soap opera.

And for years I’ve just got on and dealt with the various whims and wonders of my fellow human beings. But last year, prompted by my friend’s idea, I started to write it all down.

When I did, well, I won’t tell you what happened next, but the book changed my life.

And it’s interesting after all this time, to reflect on that period of my life where I was writing about my life, while living it. And to now be at the stage where this book will soon be shared with others, if they want to read it, feels strange but right.

I know already most people won’t care. It won’t matter what I say. I am a landlord and they will always cast me as the evil villain. For those people, I cannot help.

But for those people who are interested in being a landlord, or are a landlord, or maybe they’re a tenant renting a property and want to know the other side of the story, then Parasite? The Secret Diary of a Landlord is for them.

This book is my side of the story. And it’s a side of the story that’s not been told before. And I think it’s about time it gets told – because it needs to be.

It’s time to share the hidden life of a landlord – the truth the other side of the door.

Parasite? The Secret Diary of a Landlord exposes the shocking reality of what tenants do, the practices of local councils and how the government is hell bent on destroying the private rental sector.

It’s a contentious, controversial and gritty look at the realities of the rental sector – but this is real life.

Many of those who’ve read the manuscript have said it’s a whistle-blower account that smacks of an authenticity and insight yet to be seen in the property world. ‘Gripping’, ‘anxiety-inducing’, ‘stimulating’, ‘entertaining’, ’emotional’, ‘raw’, ‘real’, ‘instructive’, ‘informative’, ‘inspirational’ and ‘depressing’ are just some of the descriptors that have been used by early readers.

‘Never boring’ is the key word they all used. And I think that sums up my life as a landlord perfectly.

It’s exciting and scary to make this book available to the world. But I feel the time has come to tell-all and share what it’s really like being a landlord.

So let me ask you: Are you ready to learn what what really happens behind closed doors?

The hype’s that the property market’s hot, but the estate agents say not

The hype’s that the property market’s hot, but the estate agents say not

There’s only so long I can put up with reading about a property bubble and all the splendid riches on offer before I break.

Rishi’s stamp duty holiday was the doing, the media proclaim, harrying forth a multitude of claims about how quickly the markets are rising, how every home owner is going to drown in glorious profit and Rightmove is shouting like a fisherwoman how unbelievably hot the market is.

And I thought to myself: wow this seems crazy. Aren’t we still in the middle of a pandemic and aren’t millions of people getting paid by the government not to work?

And aren’t thousands of job losses being announced every day?

And aren’t the shops closing?

And aren’t people not rushing back to restaurants and pubs as quick as everybody expected?

And aren’t we heading for a recession/depression/catastrophe not seen before in our lifetime/generation/ever?

And wasn’t it, last time I looked, like we were on the brink of the apocalypse?

But are we OK now?

Has the Chancellor cut stamp duty until March 2021 and everything’s fine?

Is it now safe to go out and spunk up to half a million on a property?

I found myself looping in confusion.

And I was pretty sure the media were full of shit and Rightmove was trying to claw back some brand power, but still I found myself wondering.

Coz shit like this is insidious, even to those of us who think they’ve got a clear idea on the market.

And so I called a couple of my friends in property to find out what word on the street is.

‘The market is hot, if you want to sell, get rid now coz it’s gonna be a shit fest once the government withdraw their furlough support, and then it’s going to be a while before you can sell once the great recession hits.’

And so I check the portfolio and eyeball a property I tried to sell two years ago and which got caught up in the whole Brexit (remember that?) debacle and having a shit estate agent.

It’s been rented ever since by a lovely tenant and one who’d I’d rather not get rid of, but would have to if I sold.

‘The tenant wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire, sell it,’ was the response.

Now, I’d like to think the tenant could maybe squeeze out an ickle drip, but I get the sentiment.

So I call a couple of estate agents about the property who’d seen it before when I was researching the market. Agents, I hasten to add, who I hadn’t chosen to sell it, which is why I tell them, I still own it. The consolation prize to them not being picked after all, is the fact I still call them and at some point in the future they may win my business for the sale.

‘You only have a small window,’ is what I’m told, ‘before the market turns.’

I agree with them about the narrow window of opportunity and ask them their thoughts on the market given the media frenzy of property hotness.

I’m met with a hollow laugh. Oh yes, that? Right.

‘Well?’, I say, waiting.

‘There are some good buyers in the market. Covid and the changed practice to video viewings has weeded out a lot of time wasters, but it’s not the frenzy the media are saying it is.’

‘Oh,’ I sag, ‘that’s disappointing. But at least I don’t need to turf out a good tenant now.’

‘I wonder if you had a bad tenant you’d say the same?’ the estate agent quips.

I don’t say anything, just reflect on the truism.

‘Perhaps,’ he carries on, ‘if the property was empty, or you didn’t have a good tenant, we’d be having a different conversation?’

‘Maybe,’ I say.

I hang up and ponder, and realise he’s right.

My tenant may not piss on me if I’m on fire, but as I’m the landlord I provide the smoke alarms. That means it’s my job to know when I’m on fire and piss on myself.

The moral of the story: believe what you want, but don’t believe the headlines.

Is it unfair for tenants to pay rent?

To be honest, the question seems insane. If you sign a contract and agree to rent a property for a price, then you should pay.

But listening to ‘You & Yours’ on Radio 4 this morning, I’ve learned from a tenant caller, apparently, it appears to some tenants to ask them to pay the contractually agreed rent is unfair.

Tenants, the caller said, should be more looked after. She admitted, she was one of the lucky ones, she had a cash pile and a maintenance agreement from her ex-husband. However, her ability to teach pilates during the lockdown had severely hindered her ability to pay her £2000 per month rent.

The landlord, she said, had refused to reduce her rent by as much as she felt she was entitled to and only gave her only £100 off. That was not good enough, she wanted more, and felt the government should put more pressure on landlords to do more.

Forget the fact she’d signed a legally binding contract, for the minute.

But, what got me about this attitude, was just prior to the tenant caller, two landlords had called in – both of them had invested their money into property to provide for a pension. Both of them were trying to help their tenants, and both had taken a financial hit that had affected their way of life.

For the first landlord, their tenant not paying rent for over one year and the eviction getting caught up in the Covid-19 crisis, meant the property would be sold once it’d been recovered: To pay the debts accrued on account of the tenant.

At this stage, the tenant owes over £9,000 in unpaid rent and the landlord has racked up a legal bill of £7,500.

But apparently, more pressure should be put on landlords to do more.

What more do tenants want?

Obviously, it sounds like free rent.

Which is fine in theory, but what about in practice?

Most landlords are in debt. They weren’t gifted the properties they rent out in some secret prize draw. They worked in their jobs and they invested in their properties for a future, for a pension, for maybe a life that didn’t involve giving free rent to random people just because they feel like they’re entitled to it.

And it may surprise most tenants to learn, but landlords do work. Not only did they have to work to raise the capital to buy the property in the first place, but many still work in their everyday jobs to pay the mortgage and keep the property running. For most, the ownership of a rental property is their pension.

And what I find so frustrating about this situation is the lack of understanding from any side about what it means to be a landlord.

Any other business is not expected to give free anything. Supermarkets during this crisis have removed most of their promotions and food bills have increased substantially. But where are the cries for how unfair it is that supermarkets are charging us money, real actual money for food?

There are none.

We expect to pay for the food we buy.

So then, why is it that tenants expect to live rent free in the property they rent? Don’t they realise their landlord has a mortgage and bills to pay? Don’t they ever think about what they would do if their source of income suddenly got stopped?

Hold on – with 9.4 million furloughed workers, maybe some did?

But the difference for them – they get to claim 80% of their salary from the government, or maybe claim benefits. Landlords get none of that. There is no help from the government. If a tenant stops paying rent, there is no secret source or benefit to claim. Owning another property means you’re ineligible for any benefits.

Stop and think about that for a minute. If you, as a tenant, stop paying your rent – what do you realistically think is going to happen?

Do you think your landlord will go to that magic money tree at the bottom of the garden and pick the mortgage payment from its lustrous leaves?

Get real.

Your landlord will suffer. Your landlord will experience a level of stress and anxiety only those is serious, financial debt will ever understand.

Don’t pay for a while and your landlord, along with your home, will get repossessed.

Because that’s the circle of life and how this world runs.

As a landlord I’m not asking for your sympathy; I’m asking for your understanding: We’re all in this economic chain together. It’s not us against them, it’s not landlord versus tenant: this is life. This is the world we live in.

Nothing comes for free. And nobody should expect to live for free. These are difficult times, likely set to get worse. And while there’s calls for more tenant protection and demands to clear tenant debts, I wonder who’s going to clear the landlord debts?

Landlords don’t have magic money trees or stress-free lives. When the shit hits the fan – and it will – the banks will step in and take back their properties. Then, we’ll really have a rental crisis, and it will be the tenants not paying to blame.