Smooth Operator

When I first became a landlord, my inexperience was apparent and I made some pretty poor judgement calls.

I managed a couple of the first properties I bought myself by putting an ad in the local paper and had a stream of people interested in viewing the property.  After a very brief telephone interview I shortlisted prospective tenants and arranged times for them to view.

The first guy who came looked like a real ‘city’ type. Pin stripe suit, loud tie and shiny brogues and a haircut a bit like Hugh Grant. He pulled up in a shiny new top of the range Mercedes – he truly looked the part -  I was impressed.

He talked the talk, walked the walk.

After a few minutes he said he’d take the apartment, he’d pay 3 months up front and move in on the following Saturday. He explained he’d been working overseas for the last 10 years and now wanted to come back to theUK. He wanted to rent for 6-12 months in the short-term so he could be on the lookout for a property to buy.

Fast forward 3 months…

The rent was due so I called him, but got no answer.

I called again a few days later ( i didn’t want to appear desperate to someone of such standing) – but still no reply.

I decided to write next….and still nothing.

By now he owed nearly 6 weeks rent – surely an oversight on his part?

I decided to do a drive by – it was Saturday and I was passing the area – all the lights were on and his car was parked outside. I sheepishly knocked on the door – no answer. I could hear the TV on inside.

I left it another week – now he was nearly 2 months in arrears.

Eventually I got a great property solicitor to write him a letter saying we would start eviction proceedings if he didn’t pay up… but still no reply.

After about a month I got a call from the managing agent of the property saying there were getting complaints about the smell.

I arrived at the flat and the front door was unlocked – I slowly opened it, and that’s when the smell hit me – it was like a rubbish tip. I could hardly see anything apart from piles of rubbish, food wrappers, empty bottles etc. There was no sign of the tenant or his belongings.

Our well heeled friend cost me nearly £3,000 in lost rent, legal fees and cleaning bills

Lesson learned:

  1. All that glitters is not gold
  2. Looks can be deceiving
  3. Don’t be swayed by getting a upfront rent
  4. Make sure that you reference tenants properly
The Buy To Let Landlord