´The Property Boyz´ - Digital Diary: April 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.
April was another busy start to a promising season - 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 – For letting, ensure that the property is clean, tidy and has a modern, simple light fitting and basic curtains. Let the prospective tenant enter a room which gives the impression of space! April - Week 1
As usual, our week starts with a day at the office where plans are made for the week ahead, so this is quite often our busiest day which is full of problems which have come about since close of business on Friday.
With regards to our current business year - March, April and May tend to be our busiest months as Spring always sees people looking to move home after Christmas, New Year and Winter are out of the way. This is also gives us a chance to tidy the gardens on vacant properties, which sees Andrew cutting back hedges and starting to repair any damaged fencing. The volume of this work now means that we have to outsource the majority of it to save on time on other projects!
The following days saw us spend time with the cleaners at our property in Norfolk Road, preparing the interior to be redecorated. Clearing the former tenants rubbish out and giving the property a serious clean proved to be a harder task than we predicted. Thankfully, the rest of the week was a little more low key. We both spent time at home ´managing´ the work to complete the long ongoing kitchen renovations (which mainly involved repairing for the plasterer!)
The weekend came and brought with it Gemma’s Hen Do at Liverpool. This saw us leave a sunny Barnsley on the afternoon train to Liverpool, where our first night of the visit was spent at a hotel, which had a massive spa pool!
We spent several days in Liverpool, and it was easy to be reminded of what a wonderful city it is. There was so much to see and do; such as calling in at the famous Cavern Club, Sgt Peppers and then fancy bar after fancy bar! After a very long weekend, the day was spent at home ´recovering´ from an epic weekend, which involved enjoying the afternoon at our local pub, The Albion.
TOP TIP - For people with multiple properties, we advise that all standing orders and direct debits are set up for the first of the month. This way, you have a target figure to aim for. We also advise a safety net of 3 times that figure in reserve, in case you cannot reach that target.
April – Week 2
This week saw us visiting one of our best friends, Lisa Michie, at Jimmy´s Hospital in Leeds. She has now spent some weeks in hospital with a Pancreas problem. It was an upsetting day for us as Lisa is clearly in pain and with a young child at home. We know from experience that it is not easy to juggle family, work and illness, so we all hope that she gets well very soon.
After the hospital trip we met up with Michele and her daughter Kiki, who are our biggest fans in Leeds for some lunch and a few drinks. It really was a day of mixed emotions!
We gained two new landlords this month, both from properties which were wrecked from former tenant’s ´disappearing´ and as such, for remediation, we had to achieve quotes to undertake the repairs and prepare for contracts to be signed. So, this kept us busy with the matters of business in hand this week, as well as assisting the workmen who are fitting a kitchen at one of our homes at Bramwell Street in Rotherham.
Our tenants in this street are a Slovakian family who had moved to the UK almost ten years ago. It is quite concerning (and a sign of the times) as they were constantly asking my views and how Brexit was going to affect them. They, like many others, are concerned that they will be returned to Slovakia after Brexit, which is very unlikely but not impossible.
As the weekend was a bank holiday for Easter, we took time to relax and get out own house in order by packing away out winter wardrobe to make more space. It´s amazing how bulky coats and jumpers can be!
TOP TIP – Vacuum pack you winter wardrobe. Not only does it keep storage space to a minimum, it also helps to keep the moths away!
April – Week 3
Even we need time to relax and unwind now and again, especially after a very busy few months in the office. This usually happens when our favourite event, the Whitby Goth Weekend, takes place.
All we can say is that a picture tells a thousand words and if you want to know what went on – take a look at our social media galleries. You won´t be disappointed! We spent a wonderful time there with friends old and new before returning home, exhausted on the Sunday!
TOP TIP - When chasing tenants for rent arrears, if we are having difficulty contacting the tenant we sometimes send a letter to the adjoin properties, requesting they contact us. About 50% respond and you can learn a lot from neighbours. They often confirm if a tenant vacated, if a tenant is working, and who is actually living there!
April – Week 4
So, after our long weekend away, we returned to a busy day in the office. This involved chasing the local authority for claims which were submitted weeks ago. But, you have to remember that with ´Universal Credit Roll´ out looming, it is a complicated and frustrating task to get any answers from anyone within the local authority. Adding on top of this, more time back in the office chasing rents (for the end of the month), plus arrears letters being sent out and sadly, County Court claims submitted against individuals.
A sign of the times means that it is now very easy to take a tenant to court and get a judgement raised against the tenant for rent owed. But, in reality it is near on impossible to recover any money in real terms. For this reason, we only use the on-line claims process if we are very confident we can trace the tenant, have a parent’s address or the person has assets or is working. The procedure is called MCOL (or money claim online) and is very worthwhile remembering, just in-case!
The middle of the week saw us undertake a viewing at Norfolk Road in Doncaster. This involved a longer than normal trip in the car of some 35 - 45 minutes from the office. This was a successful viewing as the potential tenant left a deposit and arrangements were made for them to move in soon.
The next day was not as harmonious when we paid a visit to Victoria Street in Mexborough. The tenants last month’s rent was not paid and, surprise surprise, she was not answering the phone. She did however answer the door to inform us that she was moving out over the weekend, which she did, but never paid the rent owed and left an awful mess. This is sadly a story which is repeated almost every week in 2 Let 4 Sale.
The final week of the month saw us chasing rents with the month end looming. There were lots of phone calls and lots of red letters. If you ever receive a red envelope from us, it is because you owe us money!
Friday wasn´t so much a ´fun day´ as a ´run around day´. This time, it took us to Coppice Road in Doncaster (chasing rent), then Oliver Street in Mexborough (chasing rent) and Wath Road in Mexborough (but only for arranging repairs). We ended the day at Avenue Road in Doncaster (where the tenant was suspected of ´doing a runner´), which they had - and oh boy, what a mess they left!
This wasn´t so much of a weekend off for us as we spent the day decorating and painting at home, in the kitchen. Alan was starting to get frustrated at the time it is taking to finish the kitchen, but with a list of ´priority´ jobs to get through, Andrew only has time to pinch a day here and an afternoon there.
Sunday saw us visit lifelong friend Kate who lives at Burton Constable in Hull (it is the stately home where we filmed The Antiques Roadshow.) Then, it was back home for a few hours of relaxing and a good old fashioned roast dinner in front of the TV, wondering what would await us in the month of May…..
Best, Andrew & Alan x
TOP TIP -Using a site for example Booking.com means I get a 10% discount, £7.50 cashback per booking and nectar points! Combine the benefits of store and loyalty cards for maximum benefits!