Ok, I admit it; Location, Location, Location and any other property related programme hosted by Kirsty Allsopp, Phil Spencer or George Clarke is compulsory viewing in our house. There are numerous programmes about buying, selling and re-locating but despite the fact that far more people move into rental properties, there are no property programmes specifically covering the private rental sector. On the rare occasion that there is a programme about renting it tends to be about landlords or tenants from hell. Charming! In actual fact the vast majority of landlords and tenants are ordinary decent people.
Call me sad, but I love residential lettings - you simply never know what the day is going to throw at you. Last week we took on the perfect rental property; it was spotlessly clean and immaculate throughout, with neutral colour schemes and a newly fitted bathroom and kitchen. Needless to say it was let within 24 hours. The very next day we looked at a house where the owner was insistent that her huge selection of soft toys, ancient recipe books, stained carpets and mildew in places no other organism would dare venture would not affect rentability!
Unlike in sales, where for the most part the Agent’s relationship with the buyer or seller is over on completion date, with rentals the relationship with the landlord, the tenant and the property may continue for many years. Sometimes these relationships are smooth sailing all the way, and other times I do wonder if there is a better way to make a living!
One landlord contacted us from abroad when he decided to return to the UK in order to buy a little investment property in Salisbury. We met at the house on completion date; he handed over the keys and a large cheque and entrusted us to do everything from arranging a new boiler, new carpets and total re-decoration.
Modern technology has had a huge impact on the ability to communicate with landlords who live abroad. Earlier this year we had a surreal conversation about a serious leak, with a landlord who was travelling round Australia in a camper van and using Skype to chat. I think he was at Ayres Rock at the time!
The property maintenance aspect of lettings can often be a challenge and some properties just keep giving and giving … problems that is! Our favourite property in this category is a gorgeous period farmhouse just outside Salisbury. We discovered that the drains were made of something called pitch fibre. This is something we’d never come across before and it still baffles me that anyone ever thought it was good idea to make sewage pipes out of what is effectively cardboard. Enough said!
I can’t help feeling there is scope for a sitcom based on the activities of a letting agency. What other property related industry could give writers quite so much subject matter? Channel 4 – please contact me if you’re interested!
Lou Fletcher, Owner, Piccolo Property Services (Salisbury)
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