´The Property Boyz´ - Digital Diary: February 2017
So here we are, several months on from another series of ´Britain´s Benefit Tenants´ and just because the camera´s aren´t on, doesn’t mean we stop working! As well as filming commitments, property sales, investments, welfare guidance and refurbishments, we also have our personal brand with which we use to engage with and promote all aspects of our life - both inside and outside Yorkshire. February was a busy start to a promising year. As well as discussions with Channel 4, we made a lot of actions inside and outside the office, as your about to see; alongside learning some of Andrew´s ´Top Trade Tips´ on how to think like an experienced property professional!
Top Tip - We are always keen to recycle and if possible raise a few pounds we come across lots and lots of old glasses (spectacles), many are well made and classics! It is surprising what these fetch at the antiques shop, or on E-bay so never throw any away! February - Week 1 As usual, the week starts with a day at the office where plans are made for the week ahead. It is also the first day back after the weekend, so this is quite often our busiest day, full of problems which have come about since close of business Friday. This week was pretty like all of the others - this had us undertaking property inspections, especially at Kenworthy Road. This was our main role for the week and involved us visiting tenants, assessing repairs and upgrades (from loose kitchen doors and cracked windows to taps that become loose and windows that fail to open; the list is endless). In the past, we have visited tenants who were unable to change a light bulb and others who have never possessed a brush or Hoover! It is shocking and sad to see how many people choose to live their lives. The middle of the week was saw things a little more tranquil. We met with our good friends Paula Griffiths (who´s birthday it was), Sharon Firth and Beverly Hunter at Wentbridge House Hotel for an afternoon ´ladies´ lunch with sumptuous surroundings. The meal was simply exquisite and we cleared 10 bottles of Prosecco! The evening rolled over into the early evening and ended up with a taxi home. Thankfully, hang-overs were not the order of the next day when we visited 53 Briton Street with loss adjuster. You may remember our pictures from Facebook where the property was broken into and the copper pipework was stolen. Well, the loss adjuster needed to assess the damage for insurance purposes, so all this is work in progress.
The rest of the week saw us obtaining quotes for our annual insurance (on Andrew´s portfolio of some 72 properties). It is a real task to get a quote and we have had the same insurer for seven years. Changing saved us over £2000 with a better level of cover – so it goes to show you that it pays to shop around and loyalty is not always rewarded! We celebrated this saving on Saturday with some retail therapy at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield and the next day, we simply relaxed at home with the dogs whilst Alan prepared Sunday lunch at home! He enjoys cooking, his favourite (pork) was on the menu and then it was a lazy day in front of the TV for us all.
Top Tip - Invest in a travel card. A two together card will save around a third of the overall cost, with no additional charge!
February - Week 2
The middle of the month involved a lot of administration and getting statutory requirements in order. We spent all day working on quotes for insurance claims and property renovations for several properties which were requiring works as well as clearing out some properties in preparation for spring. After all these deadlines were made and lists were completed, we took time out to go to The Boatman´s Rest for Lunch.
This weekly visit is not just a break but an opportunity for the staff to meet out of the office and relax, taking time to talk about what is happening and openly discuss the best way forward in this challenging work!
Thursday saw us attend the monthly landlord meeting, which saw plans for selective licensing on the cards. The meeting was well attended and ´sharp´ as tempers were raised and the uncertainty was felt to be unwelcome. We often feel that the council know more than they tell us. Saturday saw us travel to Manchester for night on the town with friends and Sunday we headed back to Wombwell tired, but happy!
Top Tip - Use old cases creatively - they can also double up as coffee tables or simply stacked on the wardrobes to give a space saving way of storing clothes. Our cases are real classics, vintage steamer type cases from Harrods.
February - Week 3 Andrew is always keen to expand his portfolio, so he visited a couple of properties which have potential. It is now more important than ever to look at properties with potential; lofts to convert, large gardens (with a possible building plot) or simply properties that can be split into multiple units. The next day was a little more official and it saw our appointment with the accountant. The paperwork we generate keeps the accountant very busy, and as the financial year approaches it is time to provide the data requested in a format that the team can work on. Believe us, there is a lot of work to do! The theme of monies owed was continued into the Thursday which saw us debt chasing, paying visits to numerous addresses to try and catch the tenant at home as they are not answering the phone, as usual. You really can tell that Spring is in the air just now, so Alan is starting to pack our winter wardrobe away. Every year we empty the cases of our spring summer clothes, putting away items we are unlikely to need.
This Saturday meant a day in the office; well in reality, the office is closed today but having the office to yourself is great. Time is spent looking at areas we can improve our service and where we are with the on-going safety checks (gas and smoke) and it is a constant battle to ensure these are up to date. We regularly attend properties where the tenants remove the detectors as they sound when cooking or smoking! Sunday saw us wind down with a sociable day involving clothes shopping for our forthcoming trip to New York (the weather is so unpredictable that we are not sure what to pack as it could be snow, rain or sun!) Our day ended with lunch at the Thai restaurant in Meadowhall, which was simply wow! We are both big foodies and love to try new things, the hot and sour soup and braised beef was simply fantastic and devoured by all.
Top Tip – February and March are the best months to cut back hedges.
February - Week 4
The end of the month brought the same activities, and with a couple of days before March starting, we are chasing the rents due in for the end of the month, alongside helping the team to clean and undertake repairs at yet another property, before going back to chasing rent arrears all day with letters and phone calls. This was a real team effort and it´s just a shame many of them are for the same individuals each month.
With all main activities now completed for February, we had time to relax and went travelling to Newcastle (first class), to support our great friend Soraya at Powerhouse in Newcastle. We treated ourselves by staying at the County Hotel opposite the station. It was a great night and a late night which saw us get in at 4.30am! The rest of the weekend saw us return from Newcastle and relax, which included a day in the garden with the first grass cut of the year! We employ the services of a couple of tenants to help us clean the gardens, cut hedges and repair or put up fencing.
(We are delighted to say that along with some other professionals, we have been the inspiration for several business start-ups over the years, which has seen one or two excel and move onto better and bigger things!) Spring officially starts in a few weeks, but before that, our trip to New York awaits, so we wonder what will greet us in the month of March…….. Best, Andrew & Alan x