As a landlord, I’ve got used to being the baddie.
To many, I am a scourge on society, a parasite, scum of the earth. To others, a role model.
It’s a strange position to be in, and one, which until the last few years, I don’t think I was fully aware of.
The vitriolic hatred, I mean. And the job shaming.
In my mind, I do good for society: I provide homes for people to live in.
I make no apologies for the fact I make a profit from what I do, because that means I can improve properties. For those who don’t own property, I can tell you they go wrong very often, and they’re expensive to maintain.
As a landlord, I also have to contend with a lot of regulation, and I have to be up-to-date on the constant changes. The government like to tinker, a lot.
In the last few years, they’ve made it a lot more challenging to be a landlord, and a lot less financially lucrative. One could argue it’s part of the ‘levelling up’, but I’m unsure who’s the winner.
You see, landlords have been leaving the sector. Fed up with the hiked taxes, increased costs and pared down ability to run their business, they’ve said ‘Enough!’.
I get that, I started selling earlier this year as well. I got fed up, frustrated, annoyed how everything is always against me.
And I don’t want to sound like a whiny victim, because I’m certainly not, but I don’t like being forced to run my business with one hand tied behind my back, which is sometimes how it feels.
We all learned how vital our homes were. We got locked down in them. Stared at the same four walls for months on end.
The government, in their misguided wisdom, decided tenants could have breathing space, that landlords were the bully boys and snatched away any rights we had. That meant landlords were not allowed to evict tenants even if they weren’t paying rent, even if they were anti-social and causing issues.
Within this maelstrom, the position of a landlord became pretty precarious. Media headlines claimed (still do) the tsunami of evictions about to hit our shores. They speak little of the financial catastrophe many landlords have faced. How some landlords risk losing even their own home because they own a rental property.
The landlord’s voice has been pretty silent in all of this. The media don’t want to know, it’s not good for business, doesn’t make news.
What does make news is rising house prices, increasing rents.
When landlords exit the business and the property falls into non-landlord hands, that property is taken out of circulation. It’s no longer a resource of the rental market. Who cares, you may say.
Tenants, I reply.
Post-covid, rents have risen stratospherically. There is little supply and huge demand. Even for somebody like me (cynical, keen to sell up and get out), I’ve been astonished by the rent hikes.
And maybe I’m being mercenary, but I’ve changed my plans. I’ve managed to sell some (nowhere near as many as I’d hoped), but it was enough to loosen the noose, so to speak. That money has been earmarked for exciting stuff: chimney pointing, roof repairs, new kitchens and bathrooms, heck I’ve even thought about a mansard roof balcony, that’s how *fun* I am.
But the craziest thing?
I am genuinely excited.
I’ve been in this business way too long to feel such thrills and I was looking to exit. To do such a turnabout can either mean I’ve completely lost the plot, or I’ve found the wood in the trees.
And its uncanny how life works, because it was within this turbulent time The Telegraph approached me to write about life as a landlord.
I hope you enjoy it.