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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Meet the Landlords Programme

Landlords; not always the bad guys
Photo courtesy of The Rocketeer @creativecommons

BBC Meet The Landlords programme – a snapshot of landlord life at its worst

If you watched the BBC’s recent Meet The Landlords fly-on-the-wall documentary, you’ll either have been thinking yourself lucky that you’ve had a relatively easy run, or nodding your head in recognition at all the nightmare scenarios played out on screen.

The programme followed the stories of beleaguered landlords, homeowners refused access to their own homes by tenants, and down-on-their-luck tenants close to homelessness as landlords turn them away for being on housing benefit. Interestingly enough, it showed landlords as both good cop and bad cop, which is unusual given the predominantly bad press we get.

Nicki’s story

The story of single mother Nicki and her young son Josh was particularly hard to stomach. Being diagnosed with cancer in her early thirties meant Nicki couldn’t work and relied on benefits. While battling chemotherapy she was asked to leave one property in London to make way for the landlord’s preferred private tenant. After finding another property, she was promptly asked to leave so the landlord could convert the building into bedsits.
In five years of renting, Nicki hadn’t been in one property for  longer than eight months. With nowhere to go, she was advised by the council they could do nothing for her until the bailiffs showed up, leaving her terrified she would end up on the streets.

Tenants from hell

The show also highlighted ‘ASBO tenant’ Paul, being carefully ‘handled’ by the very patient lettings staff at The CastleDene Group. Paul had various addiction issues and had moved from house to house because of anti social behaviour, including his habit of phoning 999 for a lift!

One of the most extreme abuses of a landlord’s trust was at a house in the Midlands, which had been turned into a brothel and drug den. The coffee table was covered in weed, every door had been punched through and every window smashed. The defeated landlord offered the tenant a £10 note to leave voluntarily. Shockingly, she took it dejectedly and walked off down the street minutes later with her belongings in plastic bags. A sad snapshot of a very damaged way of life.

A homeowner’s nightmare

After renting out her family home, Caroline was in the dreaded situation of not being able to regain access to her house. After accruing £16k in unpaid rent, creating huge damage to the house by overrunning the bath and cracking the windows, the tenants were finally forced to leave after an 18 month ordeal. The relief and emotion was so moving when Caroline and her kids got to go home.

Young professional homeowner Anna was in the same boat. Her tenants owed her £7k and turned her into an emotional wreck after refusing to exit the property at the end of the tenancy. After finally getting them out, tearful Anna couldn’t face living there again. She sold the house and vowed her landlording days were over.

Unexpectedly inspiring

In the midst of all these shocking tales of landlord life, was a story of great inspiration. Jim Haliburton , otherwise known as HMO Daddy  told how after he growing up in an orphanage he went on to make his fortune by building a portfolio of HMOs.

With 75 HMOs and 500 tenants under his care, Jim is still hands on, and the programme saw him taking a tenant to court to gain occupancy, and taking it completely in his stride. Clearly, this is not his first rodeo, as they say. How wonderful to see someone who’s had a less than 
privileged start become such a  great success through BTL.

Read other reviews of Meet The Landlords here 

If you saw the programme, what did you think? 
Did you feel it was a fair reflection of landlording life? 
I’d love to read your comments.

Alison Doering is a north east landlord who caught the BTL bug three years ago and has never looked back. Going from zero to six properties in three years and juggling a high pressure job in marketing means every day is a school day; there’s always something new to lock away in that mental filing cabinet marked “Never do that again!” 

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