10:44 AM, 17th October 2017, About 5 years ago 14
Being a landlord is indeed a lonely business far from the perception that landlords are money grabbers of tenants. In forming this perception, there is no consideration of the running costs, challenges and risk landlords expose themselves to in their quest to provide good quality homes for rental. In this article I would like to highlight just one of the negative experiences from a whole range of others that landlords come across – cowboy builders.
Within my portfolio, I have a 3 bedroom property which developed mould and dampness during the last winter. There was no other reason for this but due to the last tenant not bothering to open the windows for ventilation and putting the heating on. The tenants moved out at the beginning of last summer after the damages caused to the property through their mere negligence. I spared myself from any argument with the tenants and refunded their full deposit.
I had no choice but to have to undertake a full refurbishment to bring the property back to a rentable state. I got quote from 3 builders who I came across through a local estate agent. I finalised on one of them and agreed on the terms of the refurb’ work, the cost (agreed on £14K) and the time frame (one month) for completion. The work started at a lightning speed and it was impressive. Once the damaged plaster board removed, the builder persuaded me to other pieces of work such need for full electrical wirings, new bathroom and new kitchen. The budget went up to £22k.
The alarm bells started ringing when the demand for payment by the builder became faster than the speed of the work, much to my frustrations. I chose to believe in the goodness of human being and thought that if I pay, there will be an incentive for the builder to complete the work. In my naïve approach, the builder managed to fleece 95% of the agreed money from me. At the same time, I had pre-booked a family break, which I had no choice but to go as it was one after about 5 years of no family break.
I was confident that by the time I am back, the work would have been completed. You have guessed rightly – the builder had not only stopped the work but had stopped answering my phone calls. When I managed to speak to him via the estate agent who had introduced him to me, the builder’s explanation was nothing but blaming me for not having paid the rest of 5% of the agreed money. Cutting a long story short, 5 months down the line, the work is still not completed and he is still showing no sign of giving me an electrical certificate. The house remains un-rentable without the completed work and the electrical certificate. No other builder is willing to take the job.
This situation has left me with no other option but to plead with the builder to finish the work. Yes, court could be a way forward. However, this comes at a cost and is time consuming. The outcome is likely to be court ordering the builder to finish the work and so only after protracted court discussions. Not only I have lost my night sleep but I have also become an angry person and very often the anger is vented out on my wife and kids.
In this experience, I have realised how easy landlord can be conned by cowboy builders. Landlord is indeed a lonely business and can break the back contrary to the general perception of those who are ignorant of the challenges faced by landlords.
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