The accidental landlord discovers just how inconvenient a broken heart can be

The accidental landlord is heartbroken when her tenants split, particularly by the prospect of having to re-let their flat in this quiet January market.
One of my favourite tenants called to tell me she and her boyfriend are splitting up. I’m sad on two counts — they are such a sweet couple, and now they are moving out of my flat so I have to find new tenants in  January, which I’m sure must be one of the worst months to market a property. 

Who wants to go looking at flats on dark, cold evenings or rainy, gloomy weekends?

Now I think about it, how selfish of this pair not to stay together, until the spring at least, when the flat would have been easier to re-let.

Not relishing the thought of schlepping backwards and forwards to do viewings on dank January nights, I toy with the idea of handing the whole headache over to a letting agent. 

In the past I’ve used two very well-known companies to market this particular property and, fair play to them, over the years they have found me some tip-top tenants. 

However, they also landed me with one total dud, a tenant so bad that just thinking about her still brings me out in hives. But hey, how could they have known she was hiding devil’s horns under her hat?

I put in a call to one of the local agents to test the water and I can tell from his overenthusiastic response that business isn’t booming just now. “It’s an excellent time to get your property on the market,” he says  — I picture him sliding his finger across his throat — “we’re expecting things to pick up any day now.” This is letting agent-speak for “things are pretty pants”. 

We agree to meet at the property for an up-to-date valuation but then I remember that if this agent finds me a tenant, I will have to pay him the equivalent of six weeks rent, or nearly £2,000. I tell myself to stop being such a wimp and at least have a crack at finding a tenant myself.

So I sign up with easyProperty, an online agent, and pay £59.99 for a  “To Let” board — which I am hoping will draw lots of attention to the flat, as it is on a busy bus route — and two months advertising on a couple of the top property websites including  Zoopla. I wouldn’t consider hiring an agent that isn’t on one of the major portals, as the top websites are more attractive to landlords like me.

Obviously I’m hoping to avoid using a high street agent at all, but if I don’t have any luck finding tenants myself, then I’ll bring in bigger guns.

To contact Victoria with your ideas and views, tweet @vicwhitlock

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