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Do it Yourself Vs Professional Managing Agents – A false economy?

Friday, 14th May 2010

Categories: Lettings Property Management

Author: Peter Barry

If landlords decide to adopt the hands on approach they may think that this will save them money, in reality though, unless you have a sound knowledge of the law, strong financial acumen and plenty of time on your hands, the do it yourself approach very often proves to be a false economy.  Depending on the age and condition of the property, quality of tenant and the current market conditions DIY landlords can find themselves devoting far more time, energy and emotion on maintaining the property than they ever intended.

Renting your property and managing it yourself sounds easy on paper.
Sadly nothing that involves human beings can ever be quite that simple and while letting your property and becoming a landlord can be extremely lucrative if done professionally, all to often ill-informed dabblers can come dangerously unstuck.

What is the worst that could happen?
Non-paying tenants?  Damages to fixtures and fittings?  A large cleaning bill?

Agents have some horror stories that will make every landlord’s toes curl:

  • Growing Marijuana- Police discovered a tenant turned a £1m property into a £600,000 secret marijuana farm, running electricity from a street lamp to the house and installing sophisticated sprinkler systems. 
  • One lady tenant established two “massage parlours” with visitors throughout the night. She was eventually evicted after a costly legal battle.
  • A tenant took 12 months to vacate his property and paid no rent for the entire period. He was an expert in Human Rights legislation.
  • A professional con man used a property under a false name for a succession of credit card frauds and benefit cheats. He has still not been traced.
  • One tenant removed everything from inside the property including the carpets and left it in a pile in the garden before departing.
  • A catering company used an up-market property like a hotel and wrecked it causing almost £10,000 worth of damage

So how can landlords avoid the tenant from hell? You never know if the butter-wouldn’t-melt tenant in front of you is harboring secret urges to set fire to the flat or murder their house mate. A good agent, who will vet prospective tenants and protect your interests if things turn sour, is an excellent starting point.
Property managers can often act as a professional medium when things go wrong, removing a lot of potential stress, time and confusion, especially as tenants often find it easier and less intimidating to discuss matters with property managers.  By having an unemotional “third party”, a better level of communication can be achieved between all parties.

Time is money and landlords need to ask themselves honestly if they can really spare the time to manage their property and if they live close enough to do this effectively.  You may think going it alone can run smoothly and work well that is until a problem occurs.  It is then that the DIY landlord realises just how stressful and time consuming, not to mention expensive things can become.