Tom Witherow: How to be a York landlord

It’s coming to the end of the year and York’s landlords are licking their lips as another round of ‘independently’ arbitrated deposits come rolling in. They’re sitting pretty as a new year of excited smiling cash cows prepare to move into their over-subscribed and under-furnished houses.

But being a landlord isn’t straightforward. There are tricks to this nefarious trade, so pay attention as I lay out the land.

When you buy your first student house you’ve clearly got to convert every room in the house into a bedroom. Two bathrooms? Convert one of them too. If you stick a rickety extension on the back and call it a living room, you’ll be able to get away with another bedroom!

Some people tell you it’s against the law to have too many bedrooms, but you don’t need to worry about that. The council and local residents hate students, so you’ll have plenty of support when there are complaints.

When furnishing, put beige carpets in so every room so that every mite of dust your tenants drop can be deducted from their deposit. It’s amazing how these things rack up!

Put horrible wallpaper on the walls to tempt your tenants into using blue tac. It’s perfect, as you can charge them the cost of repainting the whole room without having to shell out a penny. If you’re feeling kind, you can provide a tiny and utterly useless pinboard, but don’t worry, it’s not necessary.

Install an oven with so many nooks, crannies, and removable sections that it is almost impossible to clean. In fact so hard to clean you’ll have to charge your tenants for countless man hours of scrubbing (then pay a pro to do it in three).

The best landlords are mysterious. You shouldn’t visit the property or reply to emails, and certainly don’t give out your phone number. If you’re feeling flush you can even hide behind a letting agency and then they can ignore your emails for you.

Of course as a York landlord you don’t have to replace anything. Students don’t actually use washing machines, irons, hoovers or showers. They much prefer to live in abject squalor. University is a right of passage – they have to break free from their parents. And as for the oven, students live off take-aways don’t they?

Letting out your second property doesn’t mean you can’t use it yourself! The shed and cupboard under the stairs are perfect to store all the shit you don’t need in your own house. Students don’t have very many possessions, and now the iron’s broken you might as well ditch the ironing board. Giving you the space you need to store your kids’ bikes over the winter.

You can boost rents by sticking a TV in the house, and then invite yourself round to watch the X Factor. Even if they say no, just think of the awkwardness you can inflict. Turning up without notice is another great landlord trick. Don’t worry if they’re in the shower, it’s a great opportunity to ask them how the water pressure is (true story).

All students are children of bankers. They won’t have any qualms about high rents – “Daddy will pay” is a post-ironic running joke on campus. And if you’re with an agency they create a healthy panic in the autumn term to make sure someone takes up your overpriced abode.

Finally, if you are worried about being taken to court, you shouldn’t be! Students aren’t really awake during office hours, so by the time they do get round to calling the council it’ll be time to crack out that greasy smile for next year’s lot.

Happy letting!

4 comments

  1. usually I don’t manage to get to the end of your articles but this one was pretty funny, fp

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  2. BTL landlords are total scum. Forcibly confiscate and redistribute as social housing the portfolios of the worst offenders.

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    • Then let students and other short-term renters add themselves to the (long and stagnant) social housing waiting list to compete with everyone else and hope for the best before the start of term? Nice.

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      • Or alternatively we could just seize control of all the housing stock for ourselves and stop shelling out our money to a bunch of incompetant petit rentiers. Who if not actively malicious, are seemingly tempermentally disinclined to ever lift a finger to help anyone.

        Nice.

        BTW: students and most short term renters are ineligible for social housing at present.

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