Hey readers, we’ve got a real treat for you today. The founder of Windsor Enterprises, writer of the Archant group’s business advice column, and all round good guy, Ryan Windsor sat down with us and discussed his journey from high-school drop out to achieving financial freedom.
His route to financial freedom was through property, and in today’s interview he reveals; how to minimise properties laying fallow, finding good tradesmen, how to deal with the “Landlord doom” tax, and how to be an ethical landlord.
A recent piece about you in the Telegraph stated that you’ve only had a two week void period in all eight years of owning property! How on earth did you manage that, and what advice do you have for other landlords on minimising down time?
Hi Nate, Thanks for having me on your site!
I often wonder myself how I managed this!
To be honest I lucked out, there is a high demand in my area, and a low supply of rental properties. On top of this is the high quality conditions I let my properties out in, and the tenant centric care I provide.
I meet with all my tenants individually at least once a month to speak to them and sort out any issues. Even if these issues cost me, it highlights I care and improves the Landlord / Tenant(s) relationship that I believe is the key to my low void periods.
I take pride in the properties I let and the service offered, I think of my business as a mini Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB). All my tenants are migrant workers whose families live in a close-knit community, so I get a lot of referrals.
Despite the other Landlords and properties available (some cheaper and larger) most of my tenants appreciate how I operate, and they often stay for four or more years. When they do move their friends move in straight away.
In the same piece you advise landlords to find a good team of tradesmen, what are the three qualities that you look for in those looking to join your team?
Nate, this is so important. You need a great team of tradesmen that you can trust to do a good job on time, and for a reasonable price. You need someone that wants to work with you to build your investment income.
My top three qualities to look for in your tradesmen are;
It’s taken me a while to find my “Power Team” of tradesmen but I’m so thankful for them. My ability to trust and rely on them to do the job when they say they will keeps my business ticking, my tenants happy, and raises my reputation, as I can get most issues sorted quickly.
- Quality workmanship
Finding someone who takes pride in their work is rare. Normally I find tradesmen take on too much work, and rush the job. This means I have to get them back for more work, or find someone else, to rectify the problem.
When you have quality workmanship it saves you money and time and reduces stress for you and your tenants.
- Wants to work for you and build your investments
Finally, you need to find tradesmen that see this professional relationship as a long term arrangement. As such, they give it their all to provide you with the best service, fair prices and often go that extra mile to help you out.
I’ve got a great relationship with my team. They come out at a moment’s notice for no extra charge, they advise me on best practice and how to maximise my HMO investments regarding room configuration.
They even tell me about deals that are coming up, as they know if I do well their business will grow.
Once you find your team look after them! Pay the full amount early if the completed work is to a high standard. Recommend them to your friends, they will appreciate the support and start to value you more, often prioritising you and your maintenance work before others.
There’s a lot of buzz recently about the government’s planned changes to how landlords are taxed, how are you planning on dealing with those changes and what should other landlords look to do protect their revenue streams?
The changes didn’t come as a shock to me. Look at other industries and all you see is increased regulation, legislation, and more tax.
Property investment is no different. You’ve got to build your portfolio on the mantra of sustainability and longevity.
Get your books in order and make sure you are the most tax efficient you can be now! I stress test my portfolio and only remortage if there is a Below Market Value deal (BVM) that I cannot afford to invest in.
As I said before this is a long term investment vehicle and I don’t want to be too risky with the money I’ve worked so hard to earn.
Finally, with the “generation rent” phenomenon many are struggling with the ethics of owning a lot of property. What’s your position on the issue, and what mindset should people have when becoming a landlord?
There is, and always will be, a lot of negativity around Landlords and investment property. Owning property is part of the UK’s culture, but as you point out, many people cannot afford to buy their own home (let alone purchase an investment property!).
This difference in wealth has created a divide in society that’s getting larger.
So should we all just stop investing in property?
Of course not. What we should do is promote the fact that not all Landlords are the typical “slumlords”. More and more landlords are providing excellent care and services to their properties and tenants.
More and more are seeing their property portfolio as a long term investment, not just a get rich quick scheme.
Those looking to become a Landlord need to know that it’s a massive responsibility that should not be taken lightly. But! The benefits for you and your stakeholders can be massive and positive.
Think long term, make sure you know your market and do your research, cover your back and stress test the investment… then stress test some more.
Go above and beyond the legal regulations, seek out the experts, and become tenant-centric. This will ensure that everything you do, you do it with the tenants and businesses best interests in mind.
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