Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum
rantnrave

Landlord Life: The Horrific Reality Of Maintenance Costs

Recommended Posts

This landlord's blog post from a couple of days ago won't contain surprises for regulars on this site, but good to see it from the horse's mouth...

(polite request - you can find this online, but the guy behind it is very familiar with this site and I'd rather see him posting news like this than opting to keep it hidden. So, please don't fill his blog with HPC comments...)

The Horrific Reality Of Maintenance Costs

Someone whip out a box of Kleenex, a pot of petroleum jelly and the violins already! I’ve had a freakin’ nightmare.
I’ve just endured an extremely painful and traumatic week, so please bear with me while I projectile vomit last week’s Filet-o-Fish over my keyboard and nervously gather together enough mental strength to share my ******** week with you.
I’m feeling reluctant to relive my nightmares, but I know sharing will help the greater good, so I’m half-prepared and slightly honoured to do this. While a freakishly small handful of you may learn one or two rudimentary pieces of wisdom, history dictates that the vast majority of you will be calmed and joyed by my woes, and use them as a vessel to elevate your own soulless existence. Glad to be of service. Assholes.
I’m sorry. I’m just bitter right now. So bitter.
A couple of months ago I wrote a blog post about what prospective landlords should know before becoming a Landlord, which some of you may remember. I essentially listed a few pitfalls of being a landlord and also dismissed a few common misconceptions about the catastrophically unglamourous profession we naively thought was the golden ticket to a lifestyle rapper’s are accustom to. The joke’s on us. I’m still aggressively collecting Tesco clubcard points and making full use of every coupon I can get my mitts on.
If my droning is going to highlight anything today, it’s how real and painful those pitfalls and misconceptions are, specifically how being a landlord is NOT a get rich scheme, and is NOT a comparatively good way of generating passive income, and how it involves unexpectedly having to spend a buttload of cash. The latter is always the most painful, the unexpected costs (which can often go way beyond the typical costs of being a landlord)- they sting like genital warts being drowned in balsamic vinegar!
Typically, prospective/new landlords and outsiders always assume that being a landlord is a sure-fire way of making easy money. The magic formula is usually simplified down to buying a house and finding some brain-dead sucker to pay the rent. Sounds orgasmic, doesn’t it? That’s because that picture is nothing more than a buffoon’s wet-dream, where the houses we invest in are made from steel and the tenant’s we harbour are made of cotton. Back in the the real world, where I’m still scratching around dark alleys for a living and dealing with real idiots people, my properties take a beating and are like blackholes, sucking in money for fun.
This week I’ve been hit with some hefty unforeseen expenses. I’m not talking about replacing a door hinge that got dislodged by some snot-faced kid recklessly running riot, nor am I talking about the services of Dyno-Rod (which I’m told are extortionate) to unclog an almighty shit-log my tenant gave birth to after a piss-up and a rotten curry. I’m talking about replacing an entire kitchen, installing a new boiler, and replacing an oven- all in the space of a week- all unbudgeted for and unexpected. Someone may as well have walked into me with an erection while I was preoccupied with tying my shoelaces.
I’m not even convinced I should be writing this horrific blog post from home, because I’m not sure I can even afford the juice required to power up my computer anymore. I’ve pretty much blown most of my annual profit and hemorrhaged through my personal money-jar that is notoriously reserved for Vegas and low-grade strippers that cost pennies.
Someone lend me a fiver!
The broken Boiler
First to pack up, die and sink its teeth into my ‘stripper fund’ and generally ruin my seedy life was the boiler.
My tenant reported the boiler to be intermittent- sometimes it would work, other times it took hours before it became responsive. The problem sounded expensive from the outset- I knew straight away my profit margin was about to get a beat down because I’ve had problems with this particular tin-can before. Last time it cost me £300 to repair. If my memory serves me correctly, I had to replace a circuit board or something as equally uninteresting.
I eventually got three different plumbers on the case, because the first one that took a gander recommended a replacement boiler to cue the problem. Before I succumbed to his abrupt recommendation and took his soul-destroying 2.8k quote seriously, I wanted more opinions. Firstly, I wanted to ensure the boiler did legitimately need replacing. Secondly, I wanted to ensure his quote wasn’t some cowboy figure he extracted from a dark hole that housed his hemorrhoids.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the first thing about boilers, but I know they aren’t cheap to repair or replace. I also know I’m legally obligated to ensure it’s working. What a terrible combination- expensive and required. A bit like breast-implants, am I right ladies? Right.
The whole diagnose process was slightly comical because it mirrored a cheesy scene from an American sitcom. It was a classic case of being bombarded with technical jargon that would have been better wasted on a mentally impaired donkey. “Oh dear, this doesn’t look good, sir. The left shizteingburg has taken a turn for the worst, and the left hatchet that supports the dingle-berry seems to be covered in unicorn dust. I recommend replacing the entire unit”
Yeah, right, mate! That’s what I suspected.
Fortunately, despite my total ignorance, the general consensus between all three plumbers was that the boiler needed replacing, because it was a 15+ year old heat-only “Potterton Suprima” boiler, basically an obsolete piece of shit that wasn’t worth more than a stick of gum. Consequently, fixing the rusty pile of junk would have been like trying to polish a prehistoric fossilized turd. But that’s really when the real confusion begun, because I was then given different advice on which replacement boiler to opt for. That was so fun I almost pissed my pants with excitement.
They all suggested changing to a combination (combi) system, because they generally save on time and costs in the long-run as there’s no requirement for a tank anymore, meaning a smaller margin for error and less pipe work. However, two of the plumbers suggested getting a Potterton 24w Combi boiler. The other plumber recommended going with a “top grade” boiler, a 28w Worcester Bosch, because it was more reliable and came with a 7 year warranty (and apparently very good customer service). Of course, neither of those brands meant anything to me, much like the watt capacity. Don’t Bosch manufacture power drills and leaf-blowers?
I played Devil’s advocate and informed all three plumbers about the varying advice I had received. The two plumbers’ that recommended installing the Potterton both said the Worcester Bosch is probably too high grade for a BTL property, and I’d only be paying over the odds to resolve my problem, therefore the Potterton was still a reliable choice.
After umm’ing and arghh’ing, annoying other people for advice and Googling around for enlightenment, I opted to go balls-deep by getting the Worcester combi. My primary reason was simple, I want an easy landlord life, and a good way of achieving that goal is by focusing on durability. I wanted a product that is most likely give me the least amount of hassle. Here’s a more in-depth post on my tips on decorating/renovation a BTL property.
After a bit of haggling and whittling down a few quotes, I ended up with a £2,450 bill, all in. That was for all parts and labour, which included the removal of the old redundant water tank (which combi boilers don’t require) and a power flush. I don’t even know what a power flush is, sounds like the machine equivalent of a colonoscopy. Am I right? Well whatever. Something definitely got flushed the crap out of and I paid for it.
I’m sure every Tom, Dick and Harry will have an opinion on the choice I made. I’m sure many of you in “the know” will say I made the wrong choice with the Worcester Bosch. But I’m guessing that would have happened any which way. Life.
In any case, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as long as you don’t get too technical and bore the living shit out of me.
The ugly Kitchen
This is the part of the story where my cold heart may cease up and bury me into the ground. This is the culprit that really sunk me, and it’s the reason I may end up in ‘Butlins Bognor Regis’ this summer for my holiday, frequently queuing up by the bar in fancy dress during happy hour.
The boiler was actually the catalyst of my spending spree. God damn that rusty piece-of-crap!! When the tenant first reported the broken boiler, I scoped out the clapped out monstrosity for myself to ensure their greasy fingers didn’t trigger a bogus setting that caused the intermittent behaviour. The boiler and control panel are both situated in the kitchen, so while I was sniffing around the broken appliance, I was reminded of how terribly depressing the surrounding four walls and its confinement were. Mind you, the rest of the house is fabulous, so it stuck out like a sore thumb.
I had redecorated the property in-between tenants a few years ago, before the current tenants moved in, and I remember noting to myself that it was probably the last time I could get away with “touching up” this decaying cesspit before it needs burning down to the ground. The units weren’t in great shape, the doors were barely hanging on, and everything generally looked outdated. Of course, that was two years ago, so it looked even more of a shambles now. What a hell hole.
In all honesty, I could have shown a blind eye to the situation and left the kitchen stewing away until it withered into a death trap and didn’t have an ounze of life left. At this point in time it wasn’t a deal-breaker for my tenants and it was still safe to use. However, I knew it wasn’t an issue I could avoid for too much longer. On that basis, and knowing it would be much cheaper and easier to replace the kitchen while the property is occupied with good tenants, I felt compelled to think long-term profit, so I bit the bullet.
I received 4 quotes, the most competitive and appealing being approximately 4k. Ouch!
Ordering the kitchen alone was another ‘shoot-my-brains out moment’ because the prices varied so drastically, from 3.5k – 11k, and every slick sales representative (all disguised as a kitchen fitter) I spoke to implied that all kitchens are different and the parts they personally use are the best, so advised me to choose wisely, and to ensure I knew what I was going to get for my money. It was kind of cute, because they really made an effort to brainwash me into believing they actually gave a flying-crap about the value I was receiving.
I could literally write an entire post on the gloomy and unfunny process I went through to pick a kitchen, but even I’m not sick and twisted enough to do that to you. I’d rather remain low-key and partially civil by using genital wart related metaphors.
In any case, there went Vegas and sweet Mercedes (my favourite stripper that can unfasten a bottle cap in between her silicone breasts. Until we meet again, my friend).
The pathetic Oven
They say bad news comes in 3. Whoever “they” are got it annoyingly right. From this day on I hate them with a passion, because this feels like some voodoo self-fulfilling prophecy garbage.
3 days after the boiler was reported to be broken the tenant hesitantly contacted me saying the oven had gone into melt-down mode.
****** my life.
The symptoms consisted of an extremely loud and uncomfortable clonking noise when the fan starts spinning. The oven was about 5 years old and it would have cost about £80 to repair. It didn’t make economical sense to repair the legless heap that had failed me (for the last time!), because I could upgrade the whole thing for £250. Once again, no point polishing a turd.
I ordered a new one from Curry’s the same day, which arrived 2 days later. The installation fee would have cost me £40, but fortunately I was able to wangle my plumber into fitting it for free while he fitted the boiler.
That pretty much sums up my horrifically expensive week. I’m approximately 7k down, which is a pretty disheartening sum for a relatively small time landlord that tries his best to live a lavish lifestyle with peanuts.
Seriously, someone lend me a fiver.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what you want for nothing? rubber biscuit

seriously though, this happens to everything and every one eventually doesnt it? be it cars or houses or hearts etc, got to budget for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

typical landlord that does not get his hands dirty,Ive just replaced a 10 unit kitchen inc taps sink wastes etc £650.00, boiler,all plumbers merchants have slight seconds usually with a small scratch on the outside,or the previous model on a deal,you need to be a multi trader to make houses work,Im a handyman for 2 letting agents,landlords are generally tight,never do the most simple jobs themselves and moan when they get a bill in for a job they dont want to do or cant do, the only landlords who have no stress are the ones with no mortages have bought houses no older than 40 years old,and can do the work that always needs doing!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frankly, I read the post with growing despair! What's he getting so worked up about? Didn't he realise buildings require maintenance? 7k is peanuts for a new boiler, kitchen and oven. What would he be willing to spend on his own home? I know someone who spend 12k on a kitchen (that did include the oven as well)! Anyway, he has replaced them now and will likely not need to replace them again for a good few years. As least he went for a decent boiler system! :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frankly, I read the post with growing despair! What's he getting so worked up about? Didn't he realise buildings require maintenance? 7k is peanuts for a new boiler, kitchen and oven. What would he be willing to spend on his own home? I know someone who spend 12k on a kitchen (that did include the oven as well)! Anyway, he has replaced them now and will likely not need to replace them again for a good few years. As least he went for a decent boiler system! :P

What are you getting worked up about?

I expect for the author, posting a good moan was therapeutic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What are you getting worked up about?

I expect for the author, posting a good moan was therapeutic.

Because this is a business expense that should be expected and planned for. I think if this person was in any way a profession, he simply shouldn't be having a moan about maintenance. He was already aware that the boiler was its last legs, hence the repair, and that the kitchen was ropey! He had 2 years to plan for the refit!

It probably made me more unhappy because of my current renting situation and how the flat I'm in is slowly falling apart. I'm fed up with my LL and his laissez-faire attitude. I'm fed up with the leaking roof and temperamental boiler and my kitchen is also in serious need of a refit!

Where do I go to find a professional LL! :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are one of his tenants it must be tempting to ring him up and tell him the boiler in your house has gone as well - just to hear his reaction.

I've read the guy's blog before - and its a good mix of informative and occasionally salutary reads - plus he's quite a funny writer.

And this is what should give anyone the fear about BTL (although it's the ethical problems which stop me going into it). The costs are extremely lumpy - especially if you don't want to do it yourself. As others have said, £7K is nothing for what he's got in return for his money. But unless you've a decent cash reserve, that's got to sting - especially it'll only allow you to maintain your income from the properties not increase it. Must easily wipe out any profit on several houses for the year I'd have thought. Still the good thing is that it's tax deductable.

No pity either - and at least he's doing the decent thing. Several landlords I've had would not have addressed any of those problems.

Edited by StainlessSteelCat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That guys got a sense of humour... Worth reading it just for a laugh.....nothing in life is easy, no gain without pain, also lots of pain doesn't always guarantee a gain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The article was funny and informative but the poisonous contempt that the guy clearly genuinely feels for his tenants kept leaking through and spoilt the overall effect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The article was funny and informative but the poisonous contempt that the guy clearly genuinely feels for his tenants kept leaking through and spoilt the overall effect.

Oh dear.

Poisonous contempt? Sounded more like dark humour to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The article was funny and informative but the poisonous contempt that the guy clearly genuinely feels for his tenants kept leaking through and spoilt the overall effect.

For some landlords I am sure their tenants are part of their problem...therefore they are in the wrong job....there are always better easier ways.....choices.

Edited by winkie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forking out circa 7k wipes out the majority of his annual profit? Oh dear :lol:

Most post 2002 BTLer have a gross yield of less than 5%.

7k is about 10 years yield.

By the time 10 years is up, something else will have bust.

There's a lot of money to made from BTL - mainly selling services to idiot LLs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wipe away the humour, you'll find the contempt lurking underneath.

It was a good read btw. I enjoyed it...from his perspective, no ill feelings as such despite being anti BTL. More like watching someone slip on a banana skin and cussing. One doesn't know why other people's misfortune (within limits) is mildly amusing.

Anyway, perhaps the more important point is this gives an insight into what is going on wrt the housing stock. Basically, we witness a steady deterioration in a significant portion of the housing stock as landlords try to make ends meet on the cheep. They fail to maintain and invest sufficiently in their properties.

I think we have already witnessed this down the years in student areas and homes of multi occupancy. The area goes to pot - not just the 'fault' of people who have no stake in the area and their dwelling, but that the owner has no incentive either apart from minimising costs. I think it is fair to say that we also witnessed the effect wrt council estates as councils became tied to cost control and council tenants lacked a financial stake in their area as social problem were concentrated in them.

With the explosion of rentals nationwide, we will witness this effect virtually everywhere especially now that the 'good times' in terms of yields are over and no one wants to invest.

All of this.

Government supported - til June - rentier based economy, giving us rentrification.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most post 2002 BTLer have a gross yield of less than 5%.

7k is about 10 years yield.

By the time 10 years is up, something else will have bust.

There's a lot of money to made from BTL - mainly selling services to idiot LLs.

Yup ,£7k was probably for the whole portfolio ,unless he was a cash buyer which i very much doubt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought it the therapeutic expressions of a funny guy who confessed to expecting more from land lording that it's turned out. An interesting view from the other side.

The difficult truth is that not all landlords are monocle wearing baddies and not all tenants are Bob Cratchett type honest oppressed slaves. The only certainty is that all are people, share human defects and its a bit of luck if the decent ones in either population meet up. When it doesn't you get abusive landlords who leave people in hovels, and feckless tenants who wreck the place and shit in the living room before moving out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should really start a thread on this......but everything absolutely everything has as much good as it has the potential to be bad including people.

Water is a necessity for life, but can also drown away the life from the living.

Fire required to heat but also to burn.

Drugs can save a life but also take a life.

Nuclear energy both good as it can be bad. etc, etc

Landlords can be as good or as bad as tenants are as good or bad......good tends to attract good, bad tends to attract bad......such is life. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest eight

Because this is a business expense that should be expected and planned for.

Exactly. It's analogous to an engineering firm receiving an order for, say, a suspension bridge - and then whinging because they have to buy steel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a tenant phone me on Wednesday. Steam coming out of the boiler, little water pressure for a shower. I phoned a plumber and asked him to sort it and gave the plumbers number to the tenant and told her next time to not waste time phoning me but get the plumber straight round to fix the problem (he knows the property as he does the gas safety check and some other work). She said "I didn't know if the problem was serious enough". I told her "if you haven't got hot water pressure the problem is serious enough and it needs sorting".

Can't understand landlords who don't want to fix things, maybe they like high tenant turnover and voids?

Edited by davidg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • The Prime Minister stated that there were three Brexit options available to the UK:   217 members have voted

    1. 1. Which of the Prime Minister's options would you choose?


      • Leave with the negotiated deal
      • Remain
      • Leave with no deal

    Please sign in or register to vote in this poll. View topic


×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.