I’m becoming a landlord – it’s showed me how broken the rental market is

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Although I am becoming a landlord, I don’t want to treat my tenants the way I was when renting 

May 13, 2024 6:00 am(Updated 7:56 am)

I’m about to become a landlord. I know. Boo! Hiss! I’m moving from the exploited to the exploiter. But having seen the housing market from both sides now, I can tell you it’s absurd and works for no one.

I’ve had my fair share of bad landlords. When I was a student in Southampton the landlord evicted us from a house-share just before Christmas, then came round screaming and shouting when his sale fell through and we said we were going anyway. Luckily, we found another flatshare.

Later, in a London house-share, we had a landlord who lived in Devon and had a head full of paranoid horror stories of houses being trashed.

We were the first tenants in a house he’d originally bought for his student son, who had graduated. No blue tack or nails were allowed (so no pictures on the walls) and monthly inspections were mandatory. Again, we faced even more screaming over an unpaid water bill after we’d left.

In my last rental, before I moved into my current flat which I was lucky enough to buy back in 2004, the deposit was whittled away on the flimsiest of excuses – two shelves left on the floor – and what I’m sure were fake receipts.

So here I am about to buy a flat with my partner and thinking I should hold on to my flat for a while. She pays a gobsmacking sum for rent, and has formerly been evicted on a section 21 when the landlord wanted to sell up. Imagine that – kicking out a single mother from her home of five years with two months’ notice.

I’m lucky. I worked hard to scrape together the £20,000 deposit for my flat when London property was just about affordable.

It was the only thing I could afford in one of the least fashionable areas of London. The years have been kind though. The area has come up and highly sought after. The estate agents I’ve had round have been salivating; their eyes rolling around cartoon-fashion with pound signs and ka-ching noises. One asked if I had anywhere to go as he could rent it out tomorrow.

‘What about the furniture?’ I asked. He replied: ‘Oh, you can rent it furnished. Adds value.’

I’m what they call an accidental landlord. I never intended to be one, but circumstances are leading me to have a spare flat which I’d rather not sell for the moment.

I’m not philosophically opposed to being one. It should be a reasonable transaction. I’ve created a very nice home and garden (if I say so myself) and other people should be able to enjoy it at reasonable cost.

Only the rent isn’t really reasonable. And I won’t make a penny. More than that, I’ll actually be out of pocket in the short term.

This isn’t a case of poor me. I’ll say for the third time: I know I’m lucky. But one of the reasons rents are so high in London is that there is a shortage of rental property. Yet there is no financial incentive for me to rent. The incentive is entirely to sell.

First of all, the stamp duty on the new flat will double as it’s officially a second home. I’ll pay tax on the entire rent – no striking off mortgage payments or even interest. The tax bill and estate agent’s fees will take up any surplus.

And when I do sell, I’ll pay capital gains tax.

I’m not complaining. Ultimately, I’ll benefit by having my mortgage covered (though if it had been a year ago the interest rates rises would have left me even worse off).

I’m just flabbergasted that it’s so financially difficult to rent. I would be much better off selling and doing without all the hassle.

But who would that benefit, apart from myself?

I know who it wouldn’t benefit and that would be someone with no deposit to buy who needs somewhere to live with a landlord who will let them put pictures up, won’t charge a pet premium, and paint the place pink if they want to.

That means, ultimately, I’m happy with the decision I’ve made. My motivation isn’t to make money. I have a London property, I’ve already done okay – I just hope the next person enjoys it as much as I have.

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