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. March was another 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 - 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.
March - 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 on Friday. This week was pretty like all of the others, but with vacant properties mounting up! So, the first job of the week was to quickly address the advertising and letting of these vacant properties to make money! This involved several trips to such premises and offices which were finally successfully overseen by all the team. As April is the start of a new financial year, Andrew had to spend some time with financial housekeeping and admin matters before a big meeting with the accountant on Wednesday, which thankfully saw everything in order and ready to be submitted to HMRC on time!
On Thursday, quite an interesting couple of cases entered into 2 Let 4 Sale! These were two individuals (who it´s believed were unknown to each other) - came in looking for a new home as they had just recently left their partners. Is something in the air? Either way, a selection of properties was presented to them in order to help them take their new foot forward! This was an optimistic and fitting end to the week which gave us time to really wind down and enjoy the weekend with friends (as well as reminding Andrew to make the weekly task of cutting the lawn!)
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!
March - Week 2
As usual, the week starts with a day at the office where plans are made for the week ahead. It started off with ´matters in hand´ which entailed the annual renewal of our professional indemnity policy and ended up with us, as usual, chasing rent and monies owed - either on the phone, by sending letters or both!
The rest of the week took a much more favourable note, as it saw both Alan and I spend the day packing for our big old trip to the U. S. of A! We kicked off our holiday celebrations by having lunch at our usual Wednesday night haunt of
´The Boatman´s Rest´ in Worsborough, Barnsley, before we took ourselves off to New York for our first visit! As you may all be aware, each and every day here was a wonderful adventure with friends, which saw us cover everything from the Empire State Building to Grand Central Station. If you are curious about our trip, have a look at our Facebook galleries from 15th March – there is plenty to see!
Whilst in ´The Big Apple´ - we had a very nice reminder from a friend that we would be on the BBC´s ´
´! We were delighted to be on the first series of this programme, especially since many of our friends never knew about it, and oh, were they surprised!
TOP TIP - The easiest way of de-scaling toilets is with ´Brick acid´, which is available in most DIY stores. It instantly cleans and removes all stains and lime scale (but should be handled with care). This saves a lot of time when cleaning!
March - Week 3
This Monday really was a welcome break from the norm! Not only was it our first Monday out of the office, but also the first day of Spring and our last day in New York! This trip was made complete by a very emotional visit to the site of the former World Trade Centre; it really was a day of mixed emotions as it´s hard to see how anyone cannot be moved by this experience which was one of the biggest tragedies of the century.
Tuesday onwards saw us back in home soil and back to the normality of our beloved Barnsley. Andrew and I spent most of the day washing and getting back to normality - with the dogs trying to grab our attention every other moment ( they were really excited about our return, so we spent most of the day at home with them, catching up and playing ball!)
The middle of the week saw us continue to wind down back on home soil, where we travelled to Whitby to meet with a journalist. This was our first meeting with her and we found out that she was keen to keen to speak with us about possible future ´projects.´ She has a connection with ´I’m a Celebrity - Get me out of here´ and has made a proposal for us to be considered for the show! Ladies and Gentlemen, watch this space…!
Carrying on with the notion of television and media; on Thursday, Andrew was contacted by ITV and the ´Judge Rinder´ show, who were interested on him going on the show with tenants who owe outstanding rent! Although he considered it, getting a defendant to agree to go on was going to be a tall order.
They were interested in a series of programs but we both felt that it was not going to help our image. As we were once described as ´Britain
´s nicest landlords´, we did not feel the program would help this image - but never say never!
After a record number of viewings though 2 Let 4 Sale this week, (over 23) we now have very little to offer locally. A sign of the times we live in shows us that housing demand is very high – with lots of people selling and no longer considering buying as they are happier renting! Property prices are not really moving and have not really done so since 2007! The lack of any capital appreciation on acquiring property is causing a lot of investors to question if buying is still the best option. Plus, throwing into the equation the fact that most people think Brexit will not help this in the near future.
The weekend saw us enjoy a more casual pace of being (albeit temporarily). We went shopping for casual, lightweight Spring clothing in Sheffield, as well as clearing some old clothes for the charity shop. With regards to fashion and style, we both like classics, but also like things which are different - such as the House Of Cavani. The particular thing that we both noticed about this trip to the shops was that they were full of ´slim fit this´ and ´skinny that! ´ The pressure has never been as high to be thin - even for men. The shops seem to be full of micro-pattern shirts, with a distressed or ´torn´ look, which makes shopping for something timeless that little bit trickier.
Sunday saw Andrew take to his hobby of gardening (well, cutting the lawn) and cleaning cars whilst Alan prepared a delicious roast lunch. We also spent time booking hotels on-line, for the weeks ahead to save some money.
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!
March - Week 4
On Monday, we both broke with the norm again by deciding to take the day off. As Andrew has not purchased anything new for some time, (plus, with house prices not moving and legislation, red tape and tax hammering landlords) he is currently reassessing the future and possibly considering starting to dispose of some of the properties that he has. However, this is not so simple as there are a lot of tenants who depend on us; difficult decisions will have to be made soon!
During the middle of the week, we turned to being the ´Maintenance Boyz´ - working on a house that Andrew owns at Bramwell Street in Rotherham. The tenant (an immigrant and his family) were not happy with a number of issues, ranging from the kitchen, the poor quality of the dining room walls and floor coverings. So after a visit, Andrew agreed to have the dining room re-plastered and the skirting boards renewed. It was also agreed to replace the kitchen which we personally fitted almost ten years ago, so our workmen were kept busy!
The last Friday of the month saw us undertake a meeting with long term landlord Mr Jessop, who was considering turning a small block of five flats into a bed and breakfast. In response to this, we had a meeting to exchange plans and ideas on progressing this plan; alongside the potential income that would come from a bed and breakfast. So far, so good!
Saturday morning saw us undertake a quiet morning in the office, and visit the local DIY store for items for the following weeks work. Then, it was back home for a few days of relaxing, gardening and good old fashioned roast dinners in front of the TV, wondering what would await us in the month of April.......
Best, Andrew & Alan x
TOP TIP - We increasingly acquire items on-line everything from bleach to locks and doors to light fittings. These are often a lot better value and with most suppliers offering next day delivery, we think that these on-line sales will only increase. Using cashback sites or loyalty cards can mean an extra 5-20% reduction or cashback in addition to a great price online.