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Partner Diary – A year on and I’m absolutely loving it

A year on from joining PPP, Holly tells us how she’s finding building her buy-to-let property business and how it fits in with family life.

“This year has flown by so quickly and yet I’ve learnt so much.

I’ve got one house fully tenanted, which is now experiencing a changeover of housemates, another property almost fully tenanted, a further one sale agreed and we’re even considering purchasing a commercial property for refurbishment. So I feel like I’ve experienced a lot in just 12 months.

Unfortunately, my first tenant in my first property had to hand in her notice at the end of the six month period. It was really disheartening but thankfully, it was nothing to do with the house or having me as a landlord!

She’d been promoted and needed to move away, but she’s already asked if she can have a room when she moves back because she enjoyed staying in the house so much. That is the biggest complement that anybody can give you.

I’ll also have some more tenants moving out as they were on contract jobs, so I’ll be conducting viewings before they leave to avoid any lengthy void periods.

All of the tenants were a really nice bunch, and went out of their way to thank me, even when I was just doing my job. For example, there was a spate of burglaries in the area recently and we installed dummy CCTV cameras outside and added additional security features such as locks on the side gates. Everyone was really appreciative and all emailed me to thank me for making them feel safer. They didn’t have to do that.

So I’ve learnt that it’s important to find the right type of tenant to create a happy household.

While I’m finishing tenanting the second property, we’ve also gone sale agreed on the third. This isn’t the same one from my last update – they didn’t even come back to us on this offer! This is another four bedroom house in Derby, but this time a little closer to the town centre.

It’s a very run down property that will need everything doing to it, and we have some options about what we can do inside too. It will definitely be a six-bedroom property, but one of them will be huge. So, we are considering making it self-contained. We know of other Partners who have done this successfully, so once the builders are in, we’ll make a decision and then seek advice from PPP and the network. We want to make sure we do everything right.

It’s also on a bit of a hill, so we are planning to dig out the front so that we can create enough off-street parking for every tenant. This is often a sore point with the neighbours, so hopefully providing this space will mitigate that issue.

We’ve also been looking outside of the box in terms of our next property. The residential properties on the market at the moment aren’t quite right for what we want so we decided to look at commercial options. One option that is still in the pipeline is a care home. However, it is still operational and would be a very long-winded transition to get it to vacant possession. We’ll just keep an eye on that one.

Obviously the whole year has been a huge learning curve for me. I’ve learnt how to deal with difficult neighbours and not let certain issues get to me. Moreover, how to find tenants, move them in, manage them and check them out has been a great experience. I’ve done all stages of the tenanting process now and not only feel very confident dealing with this side of the business, but I also enjoy it.

The training from PPP at the start and the ongoing support has ensured that I am doing everything properly too. I am happy that I am meeting all of the criteria and following all of the legislation to the letter. With new regulations coming into force every day, you could almost guarantee that I would be doing something wrong right now if it weren’t for PPP.

I would have to follow the news or find this information out for myself which would mean I would need to be very proactive in my research and keeping my knowledge up to date. Thankfully, PPP does that for you so you are consistently providing high quality accommodation and a service to tenants that complies with the law.

This support is definitely needed and invaluable. Being part of this network ensures that you don’t fail on any aspects of being a landlord and also ensures it’s not a lonely experience.

I particularly enjoy the refurbishments; transforming the properties from whatever they were before to the finished product. I’m proud of them when they are finished and enjoy showing potential tenants around because it’s nice to see their faces when they see one of our properties. Getting positive feedback really gives you a lift.

I’ve also been able to fit the business into my daily routine. When Cora is at nursery, I have three hours to focus on work, and if she’s at home, she’ll join me in the office and pretend to play along – we’ve even set up her own desk and she’s tried to assist with furniture assembly too! She also comes along to some viewings and as she’s quite chatty, she often acts as an icebreaker, which is great. But when all rooms are tenanted and you’re not doing a refurbishment, it’s very hands-off.

Overall I’m absolutely loving it. I think it’s the best thing we have done and we have absolutely no regrets.

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