With most of us having spent at least some part of our adult lives in rented accommodation, it’s fairly common knowledge that landlords come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, ranging from the “bit of a legend” types through those truly dislikeable, draconian monsters. If you’re a landlord, you may or may not be concerned with what your tenants think of you, but it certainly doesn’t do any harm to have them onside. After all, when it comes to timely rent payments, keeping properties in good condition and generally being well behaved, your tenants are much more likely to do all three if they think you’re a decent and fair character.
In the modern game, one of the most prominent distinctions between landlord types is that of the hands-on versus hands-off landlord. Being one over the other doesn’t necessarily make you a better or worse landlord, but one would suggest a hands-on approach will keep you immersed in your properties, engaged with what’s going on and more accessible to tenants, all of which are good things, generally speaking.
But what does a hands-on approach consist of, why might it benefit you and how can you enact it?
Defining hands-on versus hands-off
Your typical hands-on landlord makes a full-time job of their investment. Using this approach, you’ll generally want to be involved in every aspect of your property and wider investment, doing things like finding new properties, sourcing tenants, conducting viewings, collecting rent, dealing with property admin and being the point of contact for tenants. Naturally, a hands-on approach makes property investing and letting your 24/7 (not 9-5) job rather than just a side hustle, so it demands a significant commitment from you.
Hands-off landlords, meanwhile, are more looking to reap the financial rewards of property ownership without dealing with the aggro of the administration behind it. This means handing the management of your properties over to a letting agent or property manager that’ll do all the hard stuff for you. It’s the route a lot of wealthier investors who use property investment as a side-project take, and for those without the time and energy to burn, it’s a pretty ideal solution.
The benefits of being a hands-on landlord
So, why would you want those stresses and administrative duties on your plate if you can just palm them off onto someone else? A fair question, but one that has plenty of attractive answers:
- Maximise profits: by handing over administrative duties to a letting agent or property manager, you will have to pay your dues. Doing all the graft yourself might make being a landlord your job rather than something on the side, but it does mean your margins will be much healthier for it.
- Control and visibility: a lot can go on behind the curtain in property letting. Your tenants might be hiding damage from you, for example, or there might be a project or repair that your letting agent isn’t as proactive on as you’d like them to be. By taking a DIY approach, you’ll know exactly what’s going on in your properties at all times and be able to respond promptly and effectively without having to worry about any nasty surprises.
- Enjoy a better relationship with your tenants: A hands-on approach means you are the point of contact for you tenants. That gives them a face to your name to work with and a more human approach that cuts out the middle man. Better communication between you and your tenants can only be a positive thing, and you might see they treat the property, and you, better for it.
- Make it your passion: if you enjoy being a landlord over your current role, why not make it your job and your passion project? It’s a demanding line of work, but if you enjoy it, then taking it on full time, along with all the other benefits that come with it, is a sound move.
What you’ll need
If you’ve bought into the hands-on sell, the next step is to think about what you need to effectively carry out the role. That includes:
- Being able to fully commit to the role and efficiently carry out your duties.
- The desire and understanding to deliver a reliable, respectful and business minded service to your tenants.
- Good communication and personal skills.
- The appropriate tools to carry out general handyman work around your properties, including everything from basic hammers and drills through to specialised equipment like rivet guns.
- A full understanding of your responsibilities in absence of a letting partner.
- A full understanding of the legalities attached to property management.
- An appropriate skillset to carry out maintenance tasks within your properties – and knowing when to call for professional help.
If all of the above hasn’t put you off the idea of becoming more involved with your property portfolio, then a hands-on approach might well be for you. If not, the hands-off, stress-free approach is always there. Just remember, whatever path you choose – it’s always better to be legendary than loathsome.