'We need landlords and tenants to have good relationships.'

'We need landlords and tenants to have good relationships.'

My name is Stewart and I’m from Newcastle upon Tyne.   

I’ve been a landlord since the early 1990s. I used to buy ‘un-mortgageable’ properties, renovate them, and then sell them on. But, I got asked regularly by local people if I would rent them out instead. So, as time passed, I bought a few more every year and ended up with a small stock of properties.   

I joined Shelter’s Landlords for Good project because there are views held by some organisations and groups that I feel misrepresent my motivations as a landlord.

By joining the project, I hope that we can understand each other’s concerns more clearly and take steps forward towards improving the housing system.   

The highs of being a landlord  

Why do I like renting out property?

Well, the best part is the tenants. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and from various parts of the world. They are also all different ages and have some interesting stories to tell.   Most of my tenants are looking for short-term (one to two year) lets, and some are students.

If you like dealing with people, then this is a rewarding way to meet many new individuals whilst making a living.  

I always buy property that needs a lot of work. I rewire, refit, and replace kitchens and bathrooms, and also redecorate. That way, the house is like new and I have a good property that attracts tenants, and can then be let at a low price.   

The lows of being a landlord  

A downside of being a landlord is the unfair condemnation from pressure groups who appear in the media and misrepresent the relationship between tenant and landlord.

It is true that there are landlords who don’t know the law and who give good landlords a bad name. But the same is true for some tenants who don’t understand how to look after the properties they rent.   

The reality is that, for the housing system to function, we need landlords and tenants to have good relationships. Not an ‘us verses them’ mentality.   

Another challenge of being a landlord is the Universal Credit (UC) scheme. Social landlords can speak to UC staff and sort problems out directly. But I, as a private landlord, can’t do this. This means social landlords find tenants receiving UC easy to help. But it means the complete opposite for me.   

Sometimes, UC payments can be very difficult for tenants to understand. They are often made to, or withheld from, the tenant without clear explanation.

Often, the tenant has no idea what is happening and can’t get a response from UC staff themselves. This is extremely unsatisfactory for the tenant. But also means that they can’t then communicate the situation to their landlord,  as they themselves aren’t clear about what is happening.

On the other hand, and speaking from my own experience, I have had incidents where tenants have been sent large cheques that were meant to be for rent, but the money was spent elsewhere.

The positive potential of Shelter’s Landlords for Good project  

If the Landlords for Good project works well, we can make progress towards meeting the needs of landlords and tenants in a way that’s mutually respectful and fair. It will be a very good move for everyone.   

This is the first time I’ve worked with Shelter and I’m particularly interested in tackling the benefits system.  

I look forward to being involved in this project, and to discussing more opportunities for working together.