11:36 AM, 17th December 2011, About 10 years ago 6
What could be worse than laying on a beach or sitting on a ski lift whilst trying to sort out somebody to go out to fix a tenants broken boiler, cooker, blown down fence etc. Portfolio landlords often prefer to manage their own property portfolio’s and this can be a real problem for them. The telephone bills can be astronomical and it’s not much fun either, especially if you are sitting in a cafe having to work whilst your partner is having to entertain the kids.
For this reason many portfolio landlords and their families feel tied to their portfolio’s and rarely venture too far. Many have striven for financial freedom but can’t risk taking it. I know of a couple in Stoke on Trent who are in exactly that position. They could easily afford to enjoy a round the world cruise and would love to do it but instead they choose to take their holidays in a caravan and stay in England where they can get home easily and sort out problems when they occur. It’s very sad in my opinion as they have worked hard all their lives and whilst they love their caravan and our wonderful countryside there is a whole world to explore. They have the money to do it too but they are totally committed to being responsible landlords.
This week Mary Latham was telling me that she had met with a company who had recognised a gap in the market for a portfolio sitting service for landlords. Kind of like a baby sitting service but they’ve decided to call it “Kennels for Keys” based on the concept of finding a safe place for pets to say. My marketing brain tells me that the name they’ve chosen isn’t the best marketing but I think the concept is fantastic. I prefer their existing business name “The Smart Alternative“.
The core of the arrangement involves short term crisis management whereby landlords divert their phones to the the letting agent and leave them with keys to their properties, a list of preferred contacts to fix any issues that arise and a budget. They charge £10 a week per property for the service which allows the landlords to get away with piece of mind. If problems do arise whilst they are away the tenants, the landlords and the agent each have just one point of contact to deal with. The letting agency takes all calls, advises the landlords of any issues arising, takes their instructions and then sorts the problem whatever it takes, leaving the landlords to get on with their holidays.
I’ve never had an issue with taking holidays myself as my whole family are into property and we tend to cover for each other whilst we are away. However, in 2012 myself and Svetlana intend to get married overseas and my family will obviously want to be with us. Needless to say, the Alexander family may well become one of this companies customers for a week or so next year. I can also see another advantage to the concept. It’s easy for people to get stuck in their ways and the thought of handing over the management of a portfolio to a third party is a daunting prospect. However, landlords who do it for a week or so and find that everything works out well might well decide to do it again and again and to realise that there is more to life than running a portfolio, especially as they get a bit older. I see good prospects for this firm if they can get it right as I can see they could well pick up the long term management of some very large portfolio’s when the landlords eventually decide to retire but don’t want to sell up completely for tax and other reasons.
The letting agents in question are business based in Birmingham and have recently taken a Gold Profile in our Property Services Directory, a link to which can be found by clicking here.
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