The accidental landlord
SO FAR I have shown three tenants round my recently renovated two-bedroom flat and the response has been a little disappointing. Yes, they all agreed the new bathroom and landscaped garden were very nice, but it was obvious that underfloor heating and a fake lawn weren’t high on their list of priorities.
All that the family from Bulgaria and the couple from Brazil and the single mum with two little tots wanted was space at an affordable price. They all told me the same story — they were living in rented rooms in shared houses, some of them with up to six other people, queuing with their kids every morning to use the single bathroom and waiting in turn to prepare breakfast, and they all craved a place of their own.
Unfortunately, none of them was able to afford my flat. They’d each come to view because they thought the rent was reasonable, but they’d all overlooked the fact that they would have to pay council tax, water rates and — crucially — utility bills on top, which would add several hundred pounds a month to their costs.
So, I am hoping the renovations will attract young professionals with more spending power. But there is clearly a need in the neighbourhood for accommodation that isn’t just cheap to rent but also cheap to run. Double glazing and modern, fuel-efficient boilers are good but fancy Italian tiles and underfloor heating aren’t that necessary. Even reasonably well-off tenants worry about heating bills these days. It’s usually one of the first questions I am asked during viewings. It makes sense to make your rental as fuel-efficient as possible. In fact, from next April, it will be illegal to re-let a property with an energy efficiency rating of less than B and E. Landlords who do could be fined up to £5,000.
This will mean that landlords with draughty rental homes in the UK will have to make significant improvements, replacing leaky