It’s taken me years to say, but I’m happy to be a landlord

It’s taken me years to say, but I’m happy to be a landlord

Next week it will be two years since I started writing the Secret Landlord column in The Telegraph. That time has just zipped away, and I’m afraid so has my number of posts on this blog.

If you’ve missed my columns, you can see them all here

You’ll notice in the last few months I’ve become increasingly vocal. This is because the pressure now facing landlords is ramping up as this housing crisis reaches levels not seen before.

There are so many changes on the horizon – with the removal of Section 21, EPC regulations, bank stress tests, to name but a few; this environment is becoming a health and safety hazard all of its own.

I’m delighted as a landlord I have a voice in a national newspaper. I know I cannot speak for all of us when I write, but I always try to put the other side across: the truth the other side of the door.

Being a landlord can be a difficult and lonely job. I know many people (mainly non-landlords) don’t see it as a job, but if you want to run a decent buy-to-let business you treat it like a job.

As the Bank of England have ramped up their pressure on interest rates, far quicker and far higher than many of us (including the ‘experts’) expected, it has thrown Section 24 into a whole new ball park. We all knew the low rates wouldn’t last forever, but the speed and the intensity of the increases have left many with not enough time to plan for the pain.

I can understand why so many landlords are getting out.

Last year I had a year of pain.

It was the execution of my restructuring of the property portfolio I had built over the last two decades. Trying to dismantle a business is stressful. I had many sleepless nights and there were times when I felt like throwing in the towel completely and declaring: I’ll sell the lot.

But I didn’t.

I believe there is still a future in buy to let. The future may be different to what I thought and planned, but I know the demand for rented properties will always be with us, so I’m not prepared to sell out. But I am prepared to change.

Change is what you need to do if you want to survive.

I’m not saying I have all the answers – or if indeed any of them are the right ones – but I can only share that being a landlord is still one of the best jobs around.

This period will pass. There will be rule changes, there will be rate changes, there will be so many changes I haven’t even contemplated, but the facts remain: people need somewhere to live and they are prepared to pay for that.

I still enjoy providing homes for people to live in. I still enjoy providing a service – and it is a service – whereby I maintain and manage properties for people to enjoy.

I can only remain in this business because I still enjoy what I do.

I’m passionate about what I do.

And that’s what gets me through.

The market for buy to let may not be as financially attractive as what it once was, but there’s still ways of making money. Demand has never been higher.

No matter what the doomsayers claim, there will always be landlords and tenants. And I’m happy to be a landlord.