When we first started renting flats – and then houses – we worked in isolation and didn’t network. That was fine up to a point – our portfolio increased and the rent came in. Financially, however, we were going about things in a very amateurish fashion.
By chance, a friend who was also renting flats told us that there were better mortgage options than the repayment option we had, without thinking, taken out. By changing to interest-only mortgages, we were able to afford more properties witht he idea of selling some to pay off the others when property prices rose.
Another friend an Ipswich Property Network and, from that we have learnt many new ideas such as options, HMOs (and how the rules for them have changed), how to buy under value, changes in the law on things such as sell and rent back schemes etc etc.
Most property network groups meet once a month and charge £10-£20 per person. One network of groups is propertyinvestorsnetwork.co.uk (run by Simon Zutshi) which have groups throughout much of England. Other regional groups include essexpropertynetwork.co.uk.
When using a letting agent to rent property, I would recommend an ARLA agent. ARLA – or the Association of Residential Letting Agents – does something to ensure that it’s members adhere to what they call “best management practice” and it has its own complaints procedure. This gives landlords some form of guarantee that their rental properies will be let and managed in an ethical way.
In the past, when an ARLA agent failed to treat a relative of mine fairly and was none too swift to make amends, I found that the threat of a complaint to ARLA produced immediate results.
I am now rueing the fact that another letting agent is no longer an ARLA member – they were a member when I first gave them my rental flat to manage ten years ago but unbeknown to me, until recently, they have since ceased to be so. Therefore, when they sold out the business to a second letting agent (also not an ARLA member) without informing me, and when that letting agent had the keys to my flat stolen and didn’t bother to tell me that the keys had been stolen or that (worse) they had only replaced the cheap Yale lock and not the insurance-recognised five-lever mortice lock, I had no recourse to ARLA. When that same letting agent then informed a month later that the mortice lock was “broken” (by coincidence, just after the block of flat’s management agents had forced them to replace all mortice locks!), I again had no recourse to ARLA.