We’re encroaching the end of May.

The last time I blogged was in the middle of Feb.

Welcome back everyone!

I’m pleased to say that many new faces have joined the landlord club since I last got down, so they’re about to get deflowered (but sadly, many will never be seen or felt again, because they didn’t quite realise they subscribed to… well, me!).

So, anyways, you know how some times- for months on end- falling asleep is infinitely more appealing than prolonging unconsciousness to “service” your long-term spouse, because going through the same old exhausted routine seems unbearable? I think that’s what kind of happened with my relationship with blogging. It all kind of went to stale shit.

I genuinely wasn’t sure when or how I’d rekindle the flame. But ya’know, it’s funny how destiny works, because all it took was one unwanted text message from my dick-face tenant to put me back on track…

So here we are! Reunited.

My tenant wants a dog (even though there’s a ‘no pet’ policy in play)…

Hi Landlord. Do you mind if I get a small dog? I promise I’ll take care of it, and it won’t cause any problems. I love this house too much to ruin it.

Thanks for asking, but… URGH! (*&*!!@!*(&!!!

Landlord's no pet policy

  • My black-hearted tenant is sabotaging our peaceful and harmonious relationship by paying zero respect to the T&C’s of the tenancy agreement (the same one that was agreed upon and signed) by attempting to overthrow the “No pet” policy.
  • The property was marketed as being NOT pet-friendly! As per routine, my advert description contained an entire section on how all animals are magical and mystical creatures, but they’re wholly unwelcome in the particular property being offered.
  • Now I’m going to look like the bad guy for tossing my tenant’s request in the bin like a used diaphragm, all because I’m sticking to the deal. The nerve of this guy makes me sick to the ball-sacks!
  • Now I’m going to have to be on full alert like an abandoned and malnourished gazelle, because I wouldn’t put it past my inconsiderate tenant to sneak Snowball in through the back doors.
  • What annoys me the most is that my tenant got a little shirty with ME and seemed bewildered for rejecting his request, even though – I’m going to say it again – I’m sticking to the deal! Un-dicking-believable! *slaps forehead*
  • I doubt it will happen, but my tenant could leverage his position [of being a long-term and faithful tenant with a super nice and fair landlord] and call my bluff, believing that I wouldn’t dispose of his carcass onto the streets even if he proceeded with getting Snowball.

    It’s a bet he could possibly win.

    Screw him and my girly weakness :/

On a side note, it’s amusing that whenever a tenant tries to negotiate a pass for a dog in the middle of a no-pet tenancy (which commonly happens), it’s always *small* and *too cute*, almost like they’re implying that I consciously chose to enforce a “no pet policy” because I was completely oblivious to the fact that small and cute dogs exist.

I know they exist, motherfucker. I also know the little-bitty one’s are the worst kind; they take twice as many dumps, they smell like old peoples’ homes (urine and cabbage), and they’re horny as fuck.

I actually have no idea if any of that is true, but it works with my narrative.

What’s my legal position if my tenant gets an authorised dog/pet?

Well, I could, of course, refuse the continuation of the tenancy at the end of the fixed term by serving a Section 21 notice and claim mandatory repossession. That would probably be the quickest and cleanest solution in my current circumstance since the end date isn’t all that far away.

That would teach my tenant. And Snowball, the flea-infested wrecking-ball!

The second (and messier) option is to try and use the breach of the “no pet” clause as a ground for eviction (specially ground 12, “Any obligation of the tenancy (other than one related to the payment of rent) has been broken or not performed.”).

Serving the Section 8 notice alone is usually enough to scare most tenants into either vacating or making Poodle-soup, and it’s a feasible option if the tenancy’s fixed end-date is in the distant future.

However, going down the section 8 route may not always work in the landlord’s favour if the tenant isn’t a total pussy and is therefore willing to drag the case to court. My understanding is, a landlord can only enforce a ‘no pet’ clause if it is reasonable/fair to do so, which largely depends on the type of pet in question. For example, a landlord will be with in his rights to refuse a large dog, especially in a small property. However, refusing a dinky little fish might be deemed “unfair”, and I doubt any sane Judge would nod the eviction through, despite the no-pet clause.

Either way, I’m not saying that repossession/eviction is the best, fairest or most practical solution, I’m just sharing what I believe the legal recall could be, just in case you’re in the dog-shitting predicament.

Why I’m not a pet-friendly landlord…

No! Wait!

That’s an irrelevant question, because the point is I made my ‘no pet’ policy clear from the beginning. That’s why my tenant’s request felt like a stab in the heart.

I thought he was different.

If I say I hate Brussels sprouts, don’t invite me around for dinner and sneak a couple of ‘sprouts into your hideous hot-pot concoction hoping I don’t notice. Believe you me, I’ll notice, and it’s your plumbing that will suffer.

YOU heartless dog hating piss-ant, you have no soul. I WILL DESTROY YOU. And your dress sense is shit.

Alright, let’s just all calm down.

I know how emotionally charged people get over their pets, especially dog owners, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m on the receiving end of an earful. So perhaps I should provide some clarity on my actual position when it comes to animals and pets, because it may save some of you from wasting time on crafting together a scathing and personal attack. But probably not.

I’m not an animal lover per’se, but I do appreciate and respect dogs (and every other living creature). I *probably* wouldn’t ever own a dog myself, because I lack the time and patience, and to be frank, the idea of dog hair moulting all over the place, especially on my alligator rug – which is the centrepiece of my game’s room – is debilitating.

However, on the other hand, I’m massively aware and supportive of animal rights, and can’t stomach animal cruelty of any form. Even obscenely irritating buzzing flies get guided out through an open window in my house, despite how tempting it is to smack them into an oblivion with my 10 foot pecker.

Should you accept/allow your tenant to have a dog?

Meh, it’s up to you.

I honestly don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, because there’s legitimate pros and cons for both sides of the coin. However, if you’re anything like me – a lazy twit that does everything and anything to avoid headaches – you’d be better off nipping the idea of being pet-friendly in the butt from the get-go.

My rational for refusing pets is the same as why I don’t provide furnished property. It just means one less thing that can go tits-up. That’s all it is.

Is it discrimination to refuse pets?

ZzzzZZZzzzzzZZZ!!

Does a bear rinse its ass in a bidet?

Exactly.

Coincidentally, a couple of days ago, a hippy do-gooder (no offence if you’re reading this, Maxine) left a comment in my ‘landlord & pets guide’ blog post, with a link to a petition on change.org, titled “Stop discrimination towards tenants with pets and children!”

She said nothing else. Just posted the link. Efficient like an assassin.

If you’re all for the cause, then all the power to you- sign the thing (at the time of writing this blog post, there’s an uninspiring 620 signatures, so hopefully this extra exposure gives it the kick up the ass it needs). I’m not against the petition; it’s for a noble cause, no doubt. However, I wouldn’t touch it with yours.

BUT, WAIT!! How can you say you’re massively aware and supportive of animal rights, and then refuse your tenant the right to have a dog, you contradicting rat-weasel?

*shrugs shoulders* Probably, just like how I think homelessness is one of the sadist realities of mankind, but I wouldn’t invite a tramp to live with me. I’ll toss a few coins into The Salvation Army bucket, though.

I do appreciate the problem, and I do sympathise; a lot of good pet-owners get shafted by their evil counterparts. But at the same time I’ve had one too many bad experiences with pet-owners, and I believe I have the right to limit my risks.

But at the end of the day, MY TENANT AGREED TO THE T&C’S! I didn’t move the goal posts.. HE DID! So start a petition against him and every other goal-post moving asshole!!

If you are pet-friendly or considering it…

If you’re game, or in the midst of contemplation, here are a few nuggets to wrap your noggin around:

  • If you’re providing a furnished property, you may want to bear in mind that dogs love chewing, cats love scratching, and both love humping and spunking over inanimate objects.
  • Pet-friendly landlords are often in limited supply, so there’s opportunity to offset the risk by charging above the standard market rate. Like I said, most pet-owners are bat-shit crazy about their pets, so they’ll stump up the extra required.

    But be fair with it!

  • Demand a bigger tenancy deposit than normal, at least 1.5 x rent. You’ll probably need it at the end of the tenancy.
  • You can include a mandatory non-refundable deposit to cover the cost of professional cleaning [to scrape faeces out from under the freezer] at the end of the tenancy.
  • Throwing together a solid property inventory is always advisable, but it’s non-negotiable if your tenant comes shackled with a fuzz-ball or two.
  • Have a [fair] pet policy that tenants should adhere to.
  • You should be doing this regardless, but on the off chance that you’re a bit of a wally, you may need this gentle reminder to retrieve references from the tenant’s previous landlords (if they have one, that is).
  • In similar vain to the point above… don’t forget your regular property inspections.

    If Lassy is chewing up your carpets, you’ll probably want to know about it sooner rather than later.

  • I strongly believe that a dog is only as well-behaved as its owner. So if the dog’s a pissing-idiot, then its owner probably is, too. That’s why it’s cool to meet both owner and pet before making any decisions. Judge for yourself.
  • Whatever the animal in question, do your own research on the breed, including their genetic personality and behavioural characteristics.
  • If you have a leasehold BTL, check the T&C’s of the lease, because some state that animals are prohibited from residing at the property.
  • Consider the size of your property and the practicality of the space available. If you’re letting a shoebox flat, it would be cruel to even consider allowing a dog to reside in there. So, arguably, there is a ethical element to consider.
  • It’s no secret, I’m a gigantic advocate of 6 month tenancy agreements for new tenancies (and then permanently allowing it remain a periodic tenancy) – I think all landlords/tenants should initially strike up a 6 month deal to “see how it goes”, especially if fluffy creatures are involved.

    That way, if tits go up and skirting boards get chewed to smithereens, landlords can at least end the tenancy on mandatory grounds pretty quickly without too much fuss.

  • Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured into accepting pets if you’re not comfortable with it.

    Be warned, sob stories from tenants are commonly plentiful in order to sneak pets into the vicinity i.e. my mother is terminally ill, she can’t looked after her dog anymore.

    Yeah, really? I want to see a doctors note.

    Rely on common sense and your gut instinct. If those lack, it’s probably safer just to refuse pets without thinking too hard about it.

  • Take into consideration the lifestyle of the tenants; if they’re going to be at work all day (and/or night), bear in mind the dog/pet will most likely be left at home during that time. You do the maths!

So yeah, how about my tenant, aye? What a dick-face for putting me that position 🙂

Now, I await with excitement, to hear about your tenant and pet related experiences and disasters. Ideally, I’d like to hear a story that involves an unauthorised Great Dane and excrement the size of dinosaurs. That would be pretty awesome.

Love & peace xoxo

P.s A man walks into a zoo, the only animal was a dog.

It was a shitzu.

I’m laughing.

At our latest LendInvest Property Development Academy, we surveyed our aspiring developers to find out what they saw having the greatest effect on house prices in the next five years.

Lets see what we found out.

Almost half, (40%) of our attendees regarded national economic growth has having the greatest impact, while only a quarter of our respondents, (24%) believe political developments such as further elections and impending Brexit will affect house price growth the most.

This is an interesting result, with popular media opinion regularly tying the hopes of our housing market to the nation’s looming break from Europe.

So why could our developers be taking this view? Well, we have been treading the uncertain waters of a Brexit mired market for some time now, and despite various setbacks in the negotiation process, the housing market is yet to take a significant dive.

A shortage in supply of housing was the biggest concern affecting house prices for only a fifth (20%) of the developers we surveyed, while 16% of those surveyed cited the construction of new infrastructure such as the new HS2 and Crossrail lines as the key influencing factor.

Our Director of Development Finance, Steve Larkin commented on the results, noting that, It is great to see that the next generation of SME housebuilders are so confident about prospects for the housing market in the medium term. Typically, we might expect to see more scepticism or concern surrounding the impact of Brexit on the market. Likewise, shortage of supply is the conventional culprit for pushing house prices up.

“Naturally we must wait to see how the economic and political developments of the next year or two unfold. But for now, it’s encouraging to see these aspiring developers taking such a fresh perspective on the market they’re entering.”

The next LendInvest Property Development Academy will be held in our offices on Friday 5 October. To learn more visit our academy website.

Full disclaimer: this read will be totally useless for the vast majority of you lords that are fully operational, because ya’ll be far too advanced for this prep-talk. So feel free to take your love-interest behind the bike sheds and skive off for the day. Enjoy. And think of me!

However, if you happen to be reading this while emptying your bowels and in the market for some light reading, or if you happen to tumble into my world because you’re in the process of converting your home into a rentable pad, then this could be useful.

Don’t be a cowboy landlord like my dip-shit friend

Easy Landlording

Sadly, it was Kevin, my haphazard friend – who evidently doesn’t know his ass from his elbow – that prompted me to share this remarkable tale of tragic negligence.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, because the buffoon’s antics has provided me with inspiration and blogging material, both of which I’ve recently been in short supply of. Not to mention the fact that his sublime stupidity is a great showcase for learning. We win!

So, yes, thanks for being a useless cock-face, Kevin! You’re the best dumb-ass friend a dried-up blogger could ever wish for.

Due to personal circumstances, Kevin vacated his residential flat so he could launch it onto the letting market, but he did so with a metaphorical “FUCK YOU!” sign attached around his pecker – he pretty much swerved every step required to make the process legitimate/sensible.

In some ways I admired his “screw the world. And your momma” attitude. I wish I was the type of woman that could feel at ease resting a cup-of-anything on a table without a coaster, instead of being a anxious and hyperventilating pussy all the time.

I’m not exaggerating when I say Kevin bypassed *almost* every step in my “Do the following before renting out your home” checklist…

What you should do before renting out your home…

  • 1) Check your lease
    In Kevin’s case, he is the leaseholder of his flat.

    Some leases don’t permit sub-letting, which means letting is not permitted.

    Did he check his lease? HA!

  • 2) Notify mortgage lender
    Since Kevin didn’t bother notifying his mortgage lender of the change in circumstances, the assumption is that he’s still on a residential mortgage, as opposed to a buy-to-let mortgage.

    Breach of terms, check!

  • 3) Update building insurance policy so it’s appropriate for landlords
    If he hasn’t contacted his lender, you can bet your nutsacks on the fact he didn’t update his insurance policy.

    Almost all mortgage lenders require the appropriate insurance policy to be in place, otherwise…

    Breach of terms, check!

  • 4) Check if you need a license
    Some local authorities require landlords to comply with the selective licensing scheme, which requires landlords to acquire a license before they’re able to let their property.

    Of course, Kevin didn’t even bother checking. In fact, he didn’t even realise “landlord licensing” was a thing.

    Fortunately, his local authority doesn’t require landlords to obtain one (I retrospectively checked). However, that’s not the point.

  • 5) Ensure minimum Energy Efficiency rating is achieved
    Since October 2015, landlords in England are required to show prospective tenants a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Moreover, since April 2018, landlords have been required to achieve a minimum rating of E.

    I may as well be talking in Mandarin, because Kevin has no idea what I’m talking about right now.

  • 6) Check if your property is gas safe
    Every rental property should ideally always be ‘gas safe’, but it certainly should be before new tenants move in, hence the legal requirement of a landlord gas safe check.

    When Kevin, the numpty, was quizzed about the gas safety check, his response was, “I checked, the boiler works fine”

    Oh, right. Well, that’s just brilliant!

  • 7) Declaring rental income
    Obviously – and I use the word “obviously” extremely hesitantly – rental income is subject to taxation, and can also influence any Government funded benefits, so it should always be declared.

    I probably need to be careful with how I phrase this point, because I’m not sure how these things work. Maybe you do…

    Hypothetically, if I know someone that is potentially partaking in fraudulent activity, do I automatically become an accomplice if I don’t report it to the correct authorities? Or do I just become perceptible to being labelled a “treasonous cockroach”? If it’s only the latter, that’s cool. I can live with that.

    Ok, so let’s just say that Kevin is in receivership of disability allowance on legitimate grounds, but let’s also say Kevin is hypothetically convinced that he doesn’t need to declare his newly found source of income because he’s currently not making any net-profit from it.

    Well, that would just be plain stupid, and probably fraudulent. Fucking moron, hypothetically speaking.

  • 8) Comply with Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm Regulation
    Credit where credit due. Kevin didn’t actually trip over this hurdle. Nice one, Kev!

    However, I suspect this win was due to shear fluke, as opposed to intent, because most people have fire alarms in their homes.

    In any case, I’m going to cover the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm Regulation for the sake of making this a more complete checklist.

    While I’m absolutely sure Kevin didn’t have any inclination of what his fire safety responsibilities are, he is legally required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of his rental property which is used as living accommodation, and have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel appliances are contained.

What a spectacular display of the upmost disregard for being a sensible landlord (minus the fluke ‘smoke alarm’ win), right?

Clearly, he just woke up one day, brushed the crust out of eyes, and said to himself, “I’m going to be a landlord”, without much more thought about it. Literally.

Sadly, the industry is full of ’em.

From the mindset of an impartial bystander, I hope they all get what they deserve.

If it wasn’t for my friendship with Kevin (which I’m now compelled to say was formed by circumstance, not by choice), I’d probably piss myself laughing until I sober up and remember that he’s the reason landlords are assholes. So instead, I’ll just piss myself laughing until I sober up and remember that he’s the reason landlords are assholes.

Please note, the above failures don’t account for all the landlord legal obligations, they just cover what all good normal landlords – at least, those in England – should check before renting out their residential home.

Have you got a friend? If so, tell me why they’re a 24-carat tosser!

Love & peace xoxo

There’s a lot of talk within the industry at this time of year surrounding student property. If you’re looking to find new student tenants for your investment, we have some top tips from specialist Landlord Insurance provider Just Landlords.

Although you may have missed the boat for the beginning of this academic year, all student landlords will know that the search for a new place to live begins around December/January time for tenants. This means that, at the end of this year/beginning of next year, students will be looking for a new rental property for the academic year starting September 2019.

Whether you’re a new student investor or are already letting a property to this type of tenant, Just Landlords has some advice on how to find new occupants for your investment in time for 2019:

 

Promote your property early

Unlike other types of tenant, students tend to start looking for a rental property months before they plan to move in. This means that, not too long after moving into their accommodation for this year, they’ll be looking at places to live next year.

As a landlord, you need to bear this in mind when marketing your property – be very clear that the accommodation is only available from September 2019, but be sure to have it available for enquiries from at least the beginning of next year.

 

Market through major portals

Students are likely to be renting a property for the very first time when they move to university, and won’t know as much about the process as other, seasoned tenants. What they will know, however, are the names of the top property portals where they can find homes to rent – Rightmove, Zoopla, etc.

If you are looking at where to market your property, have these major brands in mind, as students are more likely to be familiar with them and will begin their searches there. Reputable letting agents will usually promote your properties through these sites.

 

Keep photos up to date

Students are becoming increasingly selective about the types of property that they’re willing to move into; the more contemporary and luxurious, the better. Although you may not have the swankiest property to offer, you can paint it in the best light possible with up to date pictures.

Before marketing your property for the 2019 academic year, review the photos you currently have and decide if you need to take some new, more professional ones. If you do, Christmas time (while your current tenants are back home for the holidays) is an ideal opportunity.

 

Be available for viewings

Throughout the process of securing new student tenants, you must remember the type of renter that you’re targeting, which applies to arranging property viewings. Students live more flexible lives than young professionals, for example, so will be available at completely different times of the day.

As the landlord, you should ensure that you, too, are available for viewings during these times – you don’t want to miss out on reliable tenants because you weren’t around to meet them. A letting agent can do this for you if you use one.

 

Offer inclusive rent

One of the top requirements from student tenants when searching for a new rental home is the option to pay the rent inclusive of all bills. Offering this is a sure-fire way of attracting interest in your property, especially if you get in early by promoting your accommodation to those who like to stay organised.

This can also benefit you as the landlord, as tenants who only have one monthly payment to make for their property are more likely to stay on top of those payments and get them to you on time.

Although September 2019 might be quite a way off yet, student landlords will know the struggle of trying to get their properties let at the last minute – make like your tenants by securing a let early!

Never trust tenants

Bit of a no-brainer, but I’ll share my story anyways, because it’s cool to emphasise the importance of staying true to the rules of thumb now and then.

Today the penny finally dropped. I’ve conceded to the humiliating fact that my snake-oil tenant pulled the wool over my – what evidently seems to be – stupid and useless eyes.

Hook, line and sinker! I fell for the promises B.S she fed me during the viewing.

Reality dawned upon me late last night, when I received a text message from my tenant, reporting a “broken door”

Naturally, I shat my pants wondering which idiot did what to the door, so I launched an onslaught of questions in an attempt to encourage her to do what she should have done in the first place – provide me with an explanation of the actual problem, as opposed to a namby-pamby statement, which really, meant absolutely nothing at all.

Nope, during the viewing my tenant didn’t promise me that her ‘problem reporting’ skills were impeccable. If she had done, that would have been two pieces of shit she fed me, and I’d rather top myself than accept the fact that she outmanoeuvred me twice. I’ll get onto what she actually lied to me in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

After what felt like a life-time of exchanges, the mist finally cleared; what my tenant was actually trying to tell me is that the living room’s door handle had become stiff, and she wanted me to make it… unstiff.

*Slaps forehead*

HAVE YOU TRIED LOOKING AT THE DOOR HANDLE SQUARE IN THE FACE AND TOLD IT ONE OF YOUR STUPID MAINTENANCE ISSUES? THAT USUALLY KILLS MY STIFFY!

Rewind back to the viewing…

So, onto the baloney-pie she fed me during the viewing:

My dad is a painter & decorator.

My mum is a painter and decorator.

My cousin is a builder.

My cousin’s cousin is a builder.

My uncle is a spanner.

My brother is a hammer.

My nan is a spirit level.

I come from a long line of highly skilled tradesmen and tools.

I have building and decorating in my blood.

I am building and decorating.

So, the good thing about me is, that if any general DIY needs doing, I’ve got it covered. I won’t need to bother you.

Well, hump me sideways. For someone that has DIY so deeply ingrained in their blood, getting stumped by a stiff door handle is just bat-shit crazy. And annoying.

Here, try this, you lying sack of potatoes:

WD40

I should have known earlier!

As said, I should have realised something smelt fishy long ago. I guess my pride and gigantic ego didn’t want to admit failure.

The stiff door handle issue was just one of several primitive problems reported over the last couple of years. I should have known the moment she was perplexed by the light-bulb that needed replacing in the cooker’s extractor hood. Then after that, came a feature-wall she erected in the living room, which looked like it had been painted by a newborn donkey.

Now, I’m not saying I chose my tenant for her [non-existent] connections (because I didn’t), but it would have been nice if her claims materialised, because at the very least, it could have reduced the amount of time I waste on the niggling little problems… that slowly make you want to lose the will to live.

JUST SPLASH SOME FUCKING WD40 ON IT!! YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT IF YOUR NAN IS A SPIRIT LEVEL!

*Deep breathes*

If she had those handy connections it would have been a bonus, and I’m not going to lie, it was a minor factor I did bear in mind when choosing tenants. I’m just bored of dealing with dumb maintenance issues that I get notified of (which I really, really, really shouldn’t), like squeaky hinges, wonky bog-roll holders, and replacing light-bulbs. So anyone that offers me a glimmer of hope of at least minimising those issues, gets rewarded with a slight boost in preference.

She must have seen the desperation when I started foaming around the mouth as she gave me hope. She could probably tell I had dealt with one too many shoddy paint-jobs, and I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.

She took advantage, she said exactly what I wanted to hear, so I ended up believing what I wanted to believe.

Either way, I shouldn’t have paid any attention to her unsubstantiated claims. That was my mistake, and it was such a rookie mistake, too. I should whack that bottle of WD40 down my gullet for being so incompetent.

To clarify, I don’t want any tenant or their relatives to attempt any real D.I.Y issues, because that’s a wonderful recipe for disaster. However, I do expect them to have the initiative to squirt a little grease on a handle when required. No self-respecting landlord wants to get dragged out of bed to deal with that nonsense, or even worse, pay someone else to deal with it!

Fortunately, I hedged my bets, because the factors that really mattered, like, a good salary, impeccable references, seemingly decent personal hygiene, and a steady job, were all in play.

But yeah, other than the fact she pulled my pants down with the whole “I’m Mrs DIY” crap, she’s an absolutely wonderful tenant! No complaints.

Landlording 101

Never believe the shit tenants tell you during a viewing (and vice versa).

And if you do, hedge your bets.

In my case the end result wasn’t too bad, because in the grand scheme of things, I didn’t hang my hopes on a factor overly fundamental. But you can see the potential in how devastating it can be if landlords blindly believe in unsubstantiated claims during viewings.

Always question what you’re told, and don’t believe anything without evidence!

In order to make me feel less futile, can you please tell me about a time when your tenant or landlord pulled the wool over your hazy eyes? Merci beaucoup xoxo

We’re sure our developers would agree – with each new project, comes a wealth of new experience. And while no two projects are the same, there are identifiable stages that can make the difference between coming in on time and budget… or running into problems. 

Meet Peter and Melvin:

We caught up with two property entrepreneurs who’ve recently completed projects funded by LendInvest to discover their top tips for keeping on track during any development project. 

Peter is no stranger to the property business. For 28 years he worked in construction; starting out as a surveyor before going on to look after high-end, fit-out properties. We’ve visited him before on one of his past projects in Broadstairs, Kent and so far he has completed 21 units over 3 sites.

For Melvin, having usually concentrated on projects requiring just light refurbishment, he decided, with enough experience behind him, to turn his hand to ground-up builds. In his latest project, he took on a large bungalow with planning permission for it to be demolished and replaced with two, four bedroom homes. 

Peter and Melvin’s top tips:

So how have Peter and Melvin mitigated against the dangers of running into difficulty during their projects? 

‘Set up a budget and stick to it’

Peter stresses the importance of setting up a budget before your project begins and sticking to it throughout the duration of the build. Iterations on the design or specifications of your project are likely to be costly at this stage so he stresses the importance of being ‘100% clear’ on these decisions before commencing your project. Making significant changes to the design of a property mid-way through a project is one of the most common factors that cause developers extra expense, he affirms. Melvin agrees – ‘set a realistic budget, not an optimistic one’.

‘Time is money’

‘Always try to keep to your schedules – time is money’, says Melvin.

Alongside budget, comes the importance of proper scheduling. Without it, your project is likely to over-run and that in turn will leave you out of pocket.

‘Paperwork needs to be up to date at all times’

It may sound insignificant, but the importance of keeping up to date with health and safety paperwork is highly important. As Melvin comments, ‘you’d be surprised at how far behind you can get’. If it’s not maintained, it could land you in serious problems, jeopardising your current project as well as the ability for you to secure funding for later property developments going forward.

Relationships

Without the best people working alongside you, the vision you have for your project will be unattainable. This is particularly important when choosing suppliers and subcontractors. Peter highly values the relationships between all stakeholders of a development project and advises:

‘create an environment that’s safe and that all involved are proud to be a part of’.

Speaking with Smart Property Investment, Ben Handler, CEO of the Buyer’s Agent Institute, said there were two aspects of buying a property investment that can stump unwary property investors.

The first was being sure to undertake due diligence, something that Mr Handler has identified a lot of people ignore from working as a buyer’s agent for eight years.

When buying for his own personal portfolio, Mr Handler added he always is careful to do his due diligence.

“There’s been times where unfortunately I’ve ordered a strata report and the health of the sinking fund and some critical elements around how the building is maintained or issues that have been in the building before and how they’ve been rectified has concerned me,” Mr Handler said.

“It just showed me it could be a risk buying into this building, so that has steered me away in apartments.”

The second aspect that he sees stumping property investors was forgetting real estate agents are not trying to help you buy a property, but are trying to sell a vendor’s property.

“When you’re communicating and corresponding with them, … you have to be mindful that they’re always representing their vendor,” Mr Handler said.

“So, what you’re hearing from them, how many contracts are out, has there been another offer and [how] you need to increase your offer; you’ve got to be very mindful and skeptical and just conscious around what they’re telling you.

“How you’re dealing with a real estate agent is really important, and I think just knowing when to … walk away from a property; … setting that boundary of that threshold of what you’re prepared to go to.”

Apart from holding multiple residential and commercial properties, including caravan parks and motels across multiple states, Property Alchemy’s Penelope Valentine also provides property management services for her fellow investors, particularly in the Northern Beaches, South Coast and eastern and western suburbs of New South Wales.

As an investor and a property professional, Ms Valentine works to understand the fluctuations that have been happening in most major property markets in the country, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, which continuously see value declines following the end of the property boom.

However, despite the negative headlines in the media, she remains positive about the assets that she holds and manages in the capital cities.

According to Ms Valentine: “I think there’s so much hype in the media but the media needs hype to sell, right? Actually, we’re just going through a market cycle. I don’t know whether people remember, but these cycles happen.”

Right now, it’s business as usual, and the investors who are able to thrive in the current market are those who continue to make logical decisions, as usual.

“Properties may take a week longer to lease, but there’s things you can do to lease a property, and it’s not just all about dropping the rent. It’s price presentation and positioning, too. We can always find great tenants if we make sure to listen to what’s going on in the market react quickly.”

“You can’t just keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. You have to be proactive and you need to have a great database. You’ve got to do a bit more hustle—that’s what it’s about,” the investor and property manager highlighted.

Being able to hold and maintain assets for the long-term has become more critical to property investment success as the Australian property market continue to go through a softening phase.

As such, identifying the right property manager could spell the difference between thriving in the market and delaying a wealth-creation journey. Ms Valentine believes that every investor must understand the process of the property manager before ultimately getting them onboard.

“A lot of people just go to an agency and then get given a property manager. They don’t know if that property manager just started their career a couple months ago or if they’re on their way out or they’re aspiring to be a sales agent or if they’ve been trained properly,” she said.

Ms Valentine strongly encouraged investors to take the time to conduct a few interviews in order to get acquainted with their entire process and understand how it can fit into your broader investment strategy.

At the end of the day, it’s going to be a relationship between the investor and the property manager and as such, understanding is key to fruitful collaborations moving forward.

“Understand who’s going to be communicating with you and how do they operate, what do they do differently from other property managers,” she said.

Finally, Ms Valentine stressed the importance of tenure in order to avoid the hassle of having to ‘start from the bottom’. According to her, the average tenure of good property managers is 18 months.

According to her: “If you start building a relationship with a property manager and they know everything about one of your properties, then they leave and you get someone new coming in, you have to educate this person again on what’s happening with your property, what happened with the last tenant. It’s a lot of work for an investor. When you choose to give your investment property to an agency or property manager, understand how they operate.”

In today’s market, the resilience and discipline of property professionals are becoming more important for investors who want to continue to thrive in the business of creating wealth.

By making sure that they got the best managers, investors can continue riding the waves of the property market and ultimately maximise the wealth-creation potential of their portfolio, Ms Valentine highlighted.

 

Tune in to Penelope Valentine’s episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about her secrets to thriving in the current property market of Australia.

Adam Haddow, director of Sydney-based architecture and urban design studio SJB, said that Australians are increasingly trading environmental and financial costs of space for the social, monetary and ethical gains of compact living.

Quoted in the McGrath Report 2019, Mr Haddow said that affordability concerns have prompted an overhaul of planning laws, allowing for diversity to emerge as the new housing design buzzword.

“In the past, we had this fixed idea of what you got in a house: three bedrooms, backyard, maybe a pool,” the director said.

“That hasn’t gone away, but many people are realising they don’t need lawns to mow and four bedrooms. You used to need a desk and possibly an office; now you need a kitchen bench the right height for your laptop or a sunny courtyard with connectivity.

“These changes are dialling down in home design because we don’t need to create a space for study or work. It is more about creating spaces where people want to live.”

Here are Mr Haddow’s six hottest trends in urban residential design:

1. Repurposed living

When Australia embraced open-plan living at the start of the 21st century, there were inevitable casualties, the director continued.

“Goodbye formal dining and lounge rooms. Also over is home designers’ short-lived dalliance with the media room.

“Reflecting the shrinking size of Australian households, with couple-only households due to outnumber couples with children by 2030, dwellings will become more flexible with moveable walls allowing room conversions and adaptable furniture serving as room dividers.”

2. Smaller kitchens

Mr Haddow said that the popularity of home-delivered meals, along with our rising café and restaurant culture, has changed how Aussies think about kitchens.

“Food and drink delivery apps have exploded, with Australians spending $2.6 billion annually. We’re also eating out more. With 85,000 cafés, restaurants and takeaway food outlets, the average domestic household is spending $94 per week eating out two to three times per week.”

He said that kitchens have evolved from utility rooms to social and entertaining spaces.

“Prepping kitchens and butlers’ pantries are on-trend in new family home design.

“These small private spaces enable home chefs to get messy, away from guests’ eyes and without detracting from their home’s minimalist designer kitchens.”

3. Shared spaces

Modern developments are incorporating shared rooms such as laundries and yoga studios to suit changing lifestyles and add value and function to available space, according to Mr Haddow.

“Shared rooms arguably provide better value to young buyers who would rather pay less for a smaller crash pad that comes with a selection of outdoor areas where they can relax and entertain friends.

“Rooftops are becoming glamorous entertaining spaces with landscaped gardens, state-of-the-art barbecue facilities, café-style dining areas and chill-out zones.”

4. Garage parking

Our car-loving culture is rapidly changing, Mr Haddow added, with 3.1 million active Uber users and 100,000 GoGet members nationally.

“These share services, along with expanding public transport, environmental awareness and dedicated bicycle lanes, are reducing the need for parking on title,” the director said.

“What we are seeing is movement from majority to minority car ownership in the not too distant future. People are totally OK with using the one shared car on the street.”

5. Blue sky thinking

Mr Haddow said that textured housing exteriors made from recycled natural or industrial material like rammed earth, stone and bottle bricks are “in vogue”.

“Architects are also departing from the traditional square shape, with curvy facades maximising the illusion of space and spherical structures emulating igloos offering bolstered thermal efficiency.”

Mr Haddow also said that fifth wall feature ceilings with stencil art and complex imagery are becoming popular with “arty” home makers.

“All the rage when Michelangelo was painting churches in the 16th century and Marie Antoinette was decorating ceilings with mirrors in the 18th century. Today, some owners and designers are resurrecting it, realising that ceilings are a blank canvas for injecting personality and texture into a home.”

6. Green homes

Sustainability is becoming a major influence on home design, Mr Haddow said.

“Record levels of solar use and rising interest in battery power have resulted in the equivalent of 8.28 million households using renewable energy in 2017,” the director added.

“Savvy developers and home owners are fitting and retro-fitting properties to boost their appeal to an increasingly eco-conscious buyer pool.

“Low-cost improvements include draught sealing, insulation, low-flow showerheads and taps, window shading and low-wattage lighting.”

More product changes underway this month with our Buy-to-Let product. From rate changes to reductions in product fees, we are continuously making our broker’s and borrower’s lives easier through product innovation and key improvements to our internal processes. 

So what changes have we made to our Buy-to-let product this month?

 

1. Reduced our rates and fees

We are now offering our headline 5 year fixed mortgage at a pay rate of 3.60%, with an ICR rate of just 3.60%, a product fee of 1.00%, and a reversion rate of 3.80% + LIBOR – perfect for borrowers looking for leverage.

We have also reduced the rate of our 5 year fixed mortgage to 3.49%, with an ICR of 5.00% and a reduced product fee of 1.00%. Our product fee is now also reduced to 1.00% for all standard property and HMO mortgages.

 

2. We’ve covered legal costs and reduced valuation fees to £100

For a limited time we have reduced our valuation fee to £100 for all standard property cases, meaning we will pay both ours and the borrower’s legal fee scale costs for standard property, standard conveyance cases. 

 

3. Simplified our application process for multiple applications

We are also going the extra mile for portfolio landlords, helping you submit repeat cases that prevents you having to submit multiple applications.

If you are submitting a portfolio landlord case, just upload their property portfolio spreadsheet to our online portal and we will do the rest.

 

For the full detail on our product changes, visit the LendInvest Buy-to-let Lending Criteria here.

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