As well as the lovely house we live in now, my husband and I also own a rental flat. I am well aware that many people aspire to have a second property or a rental income but I’m going to put my hand up here and say ‘My name is Lottie. And I just don’t like being a Landlord.’ Sounds like some sort of landlord’s anonymous meeting!
I must start this post by saying that the rental flat was not out of choice but out of necessity in order to move. I bought the flat 11 years ago with my sister as a new build and adored living there. It was a coach house so in effect was like it’s own house with a nice garden. Then a few years later Edd and I decided to buy somewhere together but after a lengthy search we just couldn’t find anywhere as nice for our money as the flat. So we bought my sister out. As the flat had gone up quite a lot in value due to market changes we obviously ended up buying it at a higher price than I originally had. Five years ago Edd and I decided we wanted to move. Somewhere bigger and a more long term house. The problem was that the market had crashed. Great for buying, not so great for selling. The flat had dropped dramatically and if we sold we would end up loosing our deposit in it and owing the bank in excess of £20,000. Not a nice prospect.
I really didn’t think we would be able to move but after discussions with our bank they agreed to give us a second mortgage and keep the flat on as well. The two mortgages would be linked together, which was enough to make my eyes water, and had certain conditions attached to it but it meant we could buy our next house.
We were very lucky that we easily found our first tenants who were lovely. That’s not to say it wasn’t without problems. The day they moved in the boiler broke due to some freakishly cold weather that had frozen the valves. Cue copious calls to the insurance company and emergency gas engineers to try and get our poor tenants back in. I’m surprised they didn’t walk out there and then. Six months later and we receive a knock on our door from our old neighbour to tell us water was pouring through the roof of the garages from the flat. The tenants had gone out so he came to find us. I was 5 months pregnant at the time and just cried! Edd dashed off down to the flat to find an exploded washing machine and melted kitchen. I kid you not, it had actually MELTED when the machine malfunctioned. How can so many new appliances go wrong so quickly? We then faced a lengthy insurance process to replace the kitchen, flooring and washing machine. On the plus side the flat had a lovely new kitchen.
Over the following years we have been lucky enough to have some great tenants and only one nightmare one. We found we have mainly rented to friends or friends of friends. Oh, and the Mother-in-law. Best tenant ever!!
There haven’t been many other major mishaps but there has been an ongoing list of repairs and maintenance that are required each time someone new moves in. In short, it’s expensive. Although the rent covers the mortgage and some left over we inevitably end up spending this on maintenance at some point. I also don’t think the property is going to go up in value dramatically any time soon.
When our current tenants announced they were buying a house we made the decision to sell. We are still set to loose quite a bit of money but that is something we have, reluctantly, now accepted. Some might say that we should hold on to the flat but neither of us really have the time or inclination to manage this. We could pay an agent to manage it for us but we live 5 minutes up the road and after all the work on our current house we have an enviable contact list of tradesmen. My current tenant laughs when I say I will send round my electrician, plumber, washing machine repair man etc etc. The only option would be to hold on to it long term, as in 20 years, in the hope that the value goes back up.
I know that the likelihood of us getting a second property again in the future is slim to none and I’m still not sure it is the right decision to sell. But in honesty I just don’t want to deal with the hassle.
Do any of you have a second property and if so how do you find being a landlord?