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.
Click to follow
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

Follow us on Twitter @HomesProperty, Facebook and Instagram