A lot has been written and said about ‘Generation Rent’ as it applies to young people, unable to gain a foothold on the property ladder until their mid or late thirties, if ever. This has impacted on rent levels, as landlords, seeing a captive market of working, aspiring tenants, improve standards and increase rents – good for landlords, though bad news for those lower down the social scale, benefit and rented property dependent and now struggling to compete for decent properties against the more financially secure.
However, it is interesting to see, that whilst younger people put their hopes of home ownership on hold, at the opposite end of the age scale many home-owners are also looking at private renting as the tenure of choice.
The number of retired renters has increased by more than 200,000 over the last 4 years. Though this may seem a phenomenal increase, it is hardly surprising. The ‘Baby Boomer’ generation are home-owners, generally without mortgages by retirement age, but may have found pensions hit by the financial crisis of the last few years. The asset rich but income poor (or at least, not as much as planned for) have therefore needed to look for the logical answer, which is to increase their income by means of their properties. Whilst some will look to equity release schemes, over 200,000 have chosen to enter renting, either by selling their property, or choosing to rent out their own, family properties to gain an income and live in a smaller, more easily managed, private rented property.
This is creating even more of the single-property landlord, with the problems for the sector this entails. These ‘accidental landlords’ are unlikely to belong to landlord associations, unlikely to be fully au fait with the legislative requirements that being a landlord dictates, and unless they are very lucky, find that they will at some stage fall victim to the tenants that nobody wants – those that refuse to take responsibility for the rent, allow anti-social behavior and damage properties.
What has this got to do with you, as a private landlord? Home-owners, or former home-owners, are likely to be much more responsible tenants; far less likely to ring you because a bulb has blown (it happens!); it should be possible to have a reasonable conversation with them if there is a delay in getting a tradesman out to do work, because they know they could not always get trades people immediately themselves. So there are good tenants there, if you can get them.
You as the professional landlord (and that includes any landlord with experience who ensures they are up-to-date with legislation) can also help the sector as a whole, by assisting this tenant-who-is-a-landlord to manage their property properly. If you accept a tenant who is renting a property, tell them from the word go you are happy to help them, recommend membership of a landlord association, direct them to landlord information websites such as this one, tell them you find it helpful yourself to discuss any issues they encounter as it helps you to learn.
The private sector landlord is often labelled ‘greedy’ and a ‘rogue’ for earning a living. This can often be down to the ignorance of the few. Helping your tenants who are fellow landlords, may ensure that those who are innocent and unaware of legislation do not fall foul of the legal system, so that those minority landlords who really do deserve the negative descriptions can be recognized for what they are – a totally different and more dangerous category than the naïve.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon