Interview: The Man Behind “The Landlord” at Property Investment Project


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Being a landlord is tough – and with over 140 individual pieces of legislation, rules and regulations to follow, solid advice and information for landlords is in high demand.

A quick Google search for something like “what are a landlord‘s responsibilities” will reveal dozens and dozens of blog posts, downloadable guides and articles claiming they can tell you everything you need to know. But once you’ve read through 2 or 3 of Google’s search results, you quickly realise that the vast majority are threadbare, generic and almost identical in terms of what information they actually contain.

So where can landlords find genuinely useful, comprehensive and informative content that doesn’t bore them to death?

Step up the Property Investment Project blog – an overview of one landlord‘s rough and tumble ride through the UK lettings market packed with real life experience, helpful guides, vibrant and engaging comments sections and articles on everything from the best online letting agents to making a will for your property investments.

We spoke with the mysterious owner of the PIP blog, known only as “The Landlord”, to find out a bit more about his personal rental experience and why Property Investment Project continues to stand out and attract readers in an ever growing sea of competitors.

 

Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself

Ahh, if I had a penny for every time someone asked me that question… I wouldn’t be any richer.

No, really.

I’m woefully average, which is abundantly clear from the moment anyone meets me, so there’s usually zero desire to scratch away at the surface, which means I don’t have a go-to response. So, I’m just going to jump around and see what little factoids fall out of my head…

I’m 30’ish years old and I occasionally blog about my landlord life over at my blog, Property Investment Project.

I’m currently flirting with the ‘hypochondriac phase’ because I, rightly or wrongly so, gravitate towards the idea of the human body falling apart after the age of 30.

That’s pretty cynical, isn’t it?

In any case, I try to stay active – meeting my 10k steps per day quota is a growing priority – I run, I climb, and I’ve started playing football again, even though my ankles are screaming against it. I hear Yoga is good for ageing joints and muscles, so that’s on my hit list.

I’m a bit of an internet nerd. When I don’t fall down a rabbit hole on YouTube (and consequently lose days watching documentaries on the antelopes of the Serengeti), I read about internet marketing, new web technologies and … ZzzzZZ… you still with me?

Skinny Hazelnut Cappuccinos are my vice. Oh, and Kettle chips, too.

 

Why did you start Property Investment Project?

I don’t think I’ve even answered this question in its entirety on my own about page, so this might be an exclusive. Perhaps I should start a bidding war, because I’m sure OK Magazine would want the scoop, along with a topless poolside picture. But, I guess you did ask first…

Almost a decade ago now, I was a cog in the machine, working a 9-5 for a tech company. One day my boss tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Blogging is the new big thing, you should look into it and see how we can utilise it”

“Errr… sounds like total junk, but ok!”

At the time I was also on the verge of buying a BTL property, thanks to Sarah Beeny’s ‘Property Ladder’ TV show making it look incredibly easy. So I decided to blog about my journey to appease my boss and his burning desire to keep up with the times. I also figured it would be amusing [for everyone else] to document my inevitable mistakes along the way.

The rest is history, as they say.

 

If you had to sum up PIP in a single sentence, what would it be?

A hub of inappropriate landlord stuff that may or may not help fellow landlords and humans.

 

How much does your personal experience influence your work on PIP?

Almost all of it.

If you hop over to my blog, you’ll notice that my blogging frequently is pitiful; I blog every two months on average, and that’s because I don’t blog for the sake of blogging.

I usually only put pen-to-paper when I have a relative real-life experience to share, or when a particular topic has genuinely perked my interest, otherwise blogging becomes a massive chore. My most recent blog post was about how I eventually got round to sorting out a will so my assets/properties are distributed how I want them to be after my demise (I told you, hypochondriac phase).

Thankfully, my life isn’t dramatic enough to fulfil the recommended daily/weekly blogging quota that so many strive for. Rest assured, the moment a tenant falls into arrears, there will be a hive of explicit activity on my blog.

I also make the odd cameo when anyone offers my readership an exclusive deal/discount for a superb product, because then it’s in my audience’s best interest. It’s all about them, really.

 

What topics do you find generate the most interest on PIP?

I don’t know if the answer to this question says more about me, or humanity in general.

The sad reality is, my traffic and comment count goes through the roof when I have a good old fashioned public break-down/rant. People seem to get a high off my misery. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I revel in other people’s misfortunes as much the next sadist.

Money saving tips and discount codes seem to also go down like a shot of smooth Scotch. But that’s not surprising.  Us Brits love a bargain, don’t we? As a specific example, many landlords become captivated and enlightened whenever I discuss online letting agents. The price difference between an online agent and a high-street agent can initially be mind-blowing.

It really is a case of, “I was blind but now I see”, for many.

 

What do you think attracts landlords to your blog?

I frequently receive emails from disgruntled members of the public that unexpectedly ruined their day by reading something “inappropriate” and “ghastly” I’ve written.

They usually contact me in a huff (because they have nothing better to do), saying, “you have good content, but you swear too much. If it wasn’t for the unholy language/tone, your website would be a lot more popular.”

The irony is, I think it’s my raw and untrained voice which… ahem **pulls out the trumpet** makes my website the UK’s most popular landlord blog!

I can’t think of anything more demoralising than contributing to the millions of filtered landlord fluff articles that are already out there, and I think my regulars feel the same.

Would it be inappropriate to give a massive shout out to my readers at this point? I love you guys!

 

What are your goals for PIP over the next couple of years?

I get asked this all the time, and it’s usually awkward when I shrug my shoulders in response.

The thing is, I don’t treat my blog like a business (even though I’m told I should), so I don’t forecast or have any lofty goals. I hold it in the same light as I always have: a place to communicate.

But, ultimately… I just want it to continue growing.

 

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to someone thinking about getting into the landlord game?

  1. Avoid puny deposits, if you can. They’re deceivingly expensive and prone to economic turmoil.
  2. Thorough tenant referencing is key.
  3. Treat good tenants well, because they are your most valuable assets.

 

What do you think are the biggest threats/difficulties facing landlords in 2018?

The same threats that faces every person since the dawn of mankind: greed, laziness and incompetence.

 

What have been your biggest frustrations running your own landlord business?

When you’re a self-managing landlord you sign up to becoming a middle-man and a point of contact when things go wrong.

That can be frustrating when tenants abuse their position – which they often do – by relentlessly contacting me to resolve menial odd-jobs that they’re more than capable of resolving themselves.  I don’t mind dealing with the legitimate enquiries, but when it’s a simple case of the tenant being too lazy to tighten a screw to re-stabilise a kitchen cupboard door, that can be soul-destroying.

But, I guess, my woes and frustrations as a landlord is the same as any other employer and employee that has to work with other people: it’s the lack of common sense and courtesy of other people.

I always get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I receive a message or call from my tenant, because it means bad news is imminent. Tenants don’t call to relay good news.

 

Do you think that landlords get an unfair bad rep?

This may come as a surprise, but I honestly don’t. Just like I don’t think estate agents get a bad rap.

There are too many landlords that fall short of not only their legal obligations, but also basic human decency. I’ve seen the poor conditions and service some landlords provide, for an extortionate amount of money, and it’s both frightening and embarrassing.

My rule of thumb is to provide living conditions that I would be happy to live in, and I don’t think that should be optional. So when I see some of the slop available to rent, it’s a constant reminder of why landlords are up there with estate agents and ticket inspectors.

 

Know any jokes? Tell us one!

I want your audience to know that you said I could skip any question apart from this one. Making me to do this is some real medieval ssshhh-ugar, just so you know.

Q: “What do you call a 3 legged donkey?”

A: “Wonky”

You’re going to hell for making me do that.

 

So there you have it! Your personal introduction to the mysterious landlord behind Property Investment Project – The UK’s most popular landlord blog.

Don’t forget to check out the PIP blog and stop by “The Landlord”‘s social media accounts to say hi for yourself 🙂

PIP on Twitter – @The_Landlord

PIP on Facebook – @PropertyInvestmentProject


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