curve ball or curve·ball (kûrvbôl)
1. Baseball Any of several pitches that veer to the left when thrown with the right hand and to the right when thrown with the left hand.
2. Slang Something that is unexpected or designed to trick or deceive, usually unpleasantly so.
I’ve experienced a few “curve balls” in my property career, but I think many people come into the property investment/BTL arena thinking that it is just a case of buying a property, finding a tenant, and collecting the rent every month. Job done. Errrr … If only that was the case!
In reality, the only thing that you can predict as a Landlord is that nothing is predictable!
Property is a “people” business. You, as a Landlord, are a “service provider“. You’ll soon learn that people (tenants) do not always act in the way you hope. i.e. pay their rent on time and keep your property in good condition. Far from it.
Earlier this week, I interviewed Paul Routledge, a Weston Super Mare based Landlord who owns over 100 properties. I was shocked to learn that Paul had been stabbed 5 times in the head by a drug-dealing tenant, and left for dead. Major curve ball! It was this incident that inspired him to start his Landlord’s network referencing service, LRS.
So, my advice is to be prepared and expect the unexpected.
For example, many Landlords say that they “only rent to private tenants”. However, if you think about it, you are “only one redundancy away from acquiring (by default) an LHA tenant“*. (* This quote courtesy of Landlord Mary Latham).
This happened to me not so long ago with one of our apartments in North London.
We had a tenant who was working in the city, earning a good income. He became depressed, lost his job, and had to claim LHA. The problem was that he kept all his housing benefit money to fund his lifestyle, and did not pass it on to me! In fact, he did not even tell me that he had lost his job for about six months. It took a long time to sort out all this mess and get the housing benefit paid direct to me. He eventually got another job, and we worked out a payment plan for him to pay me back the £2.5K rent arrears which he owed, and thankfully he stuck to it. He has since lost his job again and gone back onto benefits, but at least I know how to deal with it now.
Therefore, whether you rent to LHA tenants or not, I believe you should familiarise yourself with LHA tenancy issues.
According to this blog, the Government is going to introduce Universal Credits from 2013.
This means, in a nutshell, that there will be one benefits payment made that includes housing benefit, and the claimant will need to pass it on to the Landlord.
This could affect YOU. If you want to understand how, then you should read this very important and informative post on Property Tribes forum: LHA Landlords – are you worried about Universal credits?
Regularly visiting a property forum like Property Tribes is a great way to stay up-to-date with the issues that matter and to prepare for the many curve balls that Landlords have to deal with on a daily basis. If you do encounter a problem, you can also go to the community and ask for their advice on how to deal with it. You are not alone!
A great example of this is “A week in the life of a landlord” by Collette Lord. She had more curve balls thrown her way in one week than some Landlords would experience over a year! Read her adventures and the solutions she came up with >>> here.
A product like Yulpa can also help you manage curve balls and ensure that issues (like non-payment of rent) are identified early and dealt with. This can stop problems escalating out of control.
Whatever Landlord life throws at you, there’s always an answer. That’s been my experience anyway. Problems also help us learn and grow, so watch out for those curve balls and they won’t catch you out!
Follow me on Twitter: @4_walls
Vanessa Warwick is a former TV presenter, turned professional residential Landlord, consultant, and speaker. Along with her husband Nick Tadd, she founded Property Tribes, which is now the U.K.’s busiest on-line Landlord and investor community. Nick and Vanessa have just launched their new tech product, Yulpa, an on-line “property office/filo-fax” that helps you organise and manage your entire property life in one place. It comes with an iPhone app that does auto due diligence on any property being considered for purchase.
Vanessa and Nick advocate the use of technology and digital and social communications in property, and speak at events all over the U.K. as well as consulting for the BBC on property. They invest mainly in flats London and family houses in the South East and are also big advocates of holiday lets, having two upmarket holiday lets on the South Coast that achieve above-average occupancy thanks to the couple’s web efforts and vertical marketing strategies.