My property portfolio nightmares!

The worst things to happen to my portfolio

It might be a scary headline but I was asked at a CEO round table the other day what ‘horrific’ things have happened to my investment property portfolio. I think that they expected me to tell them horrific stories of how I regretted being involved with buy-to-let investment. After all, as one of the traders said ‘buy-to-let was a dead concept and one that was unlikely to come back, the banks will never lend like before.

I won’t tell you my thoughts about this but considering we sold £17.5 million of buy-to-let property in the month of February I think it’s safe to say that despite a brief hibernation it’s back again with a vengeance.

Anyway I answered the question and they were quite surprised to see that things had actually been quite good.

So it prompted me to spend an hour thinking about all of the stories of problems over the past three years.

So here goes I haven’t put a huge amount of detail, just the summary. Needless to say I am still as keen as I was with buy-to-let property as I ever was.

  • A drug lord was arrested in one of my properties. On the wall sat a massive photo of him brandishing two guns. It cost me 3 months rent.
  • I was slack and didn’t check my accounts and found a tenant hadn’t paid the rent for 3 months. They paid once prompted.
  • A tenant moved out and left the property in a real mess, along with the rent arrears I was out of pocket by £150.
  • A tenant failed to air the bathroom so it was full of mould. We discovered this during an inspection. We made them pay for a cleaner and a heater to kill the mould.
  • A tenant did not open the windows to the apartment and ended up getting damp in the living room. They complained that something was wrong with the flat, so I sent an inspector in and in the end I charged them for not looking after the place.
  • They gave notice straight after which I agreed with. Two weeks later they decided against moving out. They still live in the flat with no damp.
  • Another mouldy story – boiler cupboard was full of mould as the tenants used it as a dry clothes without airing it. A bit of education and it was all fixed.
  • One of my London properties, the tenant moved out and then when the next tenant moved in they said every light bulb was blown. I questioned if they had done an inspection on the way out. After an argument that ended nowhere it cost me £100 to do all the lights again.
  •  Another London property had a broken toilet flusher and I ended up having to replace the whole thing. £250 after labour.
  •  This happened three times – the tenant stopped paying rent. All caught up in the end.
  •  A tenant moved out without paying the final months rent so I had to chase them get approval to use the deposit to cover the rent.
  •  Three of my Spanish properties were un-let for 8 weeks at the same time.
  •  An agent told me the tenant was up-to-date but they weren’t and I ended up £1800 out of pocket. I chased the £1800 from the tenant but they stopped paying so used County Court Judgement which the tenant ignored, then I bought a Debt Collector in who finally tracked him down through his employer who now pays me at £200 per month.
  •  Tenant was in arrears so I instructed agent to kick them out. They didn’t kick out the tenant despite being instructed as such, they told me that they had a new tenant. Whilst the tenant had caught up he soon fell behind again and finally I kicked the tenant out and sacked the agent.

You might think that some of these are terrible but I can tell you that I haven’t lost a moments sleep over any of it. In fact they were actually of little consequence considering that my portfolio is cash flow positive. In fact, throughout the recession I have had very little void period compared to normal so this has helped my cash flow massively.

Now honestly, I don’t wish any of the above on you but if you are a property investor you are likely to encounter some or all of these things. It’s not so much that these won’t happen it’s much more about how you handle them (well actually, how your lettingagent handles them because you see all of these things happened without me lifting a finger.)

If you have questions please call the team on +44 (0)207 923 6100.

Live with passion,
Brett Alegre-Wood

About the Author

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Gladfish. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids.

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