Recently, the BBC launched a series which provided a close insight into the workings of the UK rental sector, while exploring the relationships between landlords and their tenants.
The Week the Landlords Moved In gave landlords the opportunity to move into one of their rental properties to see what life is really like for their tenants.
Those taking part would spend a week in one of their tenants' properties and experience their lifestyle on their budget.
The show is given a primetime slot on Wednesday evenings at 9pm on BBC One and to date there have been three episodes featuring two landlords in each.
It's an interesting concept and considering that landlords don't always get the best media representation, an opportunity for them to shine.
So, how did they fare? And what can we learn from their experiences?
What issues did the series raise?
The show’s producers deliberately picked landlords with large portfolios to feature on the show – the majority of which appeared to be very wealthy. So, while the series may not have offered a representation of the typical small-time landlord, it allowed us to see how some successful larger landlords run their businesses and interact with their tenants.
As you might expect, a number of themes became apparent…
- Many landlords and tenants have vastly different lifestyles
- Some tenants are not proactive in reporting maintenance issues
- There is sometimes a lack of communication between landlords and tenants
- Some landlords aren’t visiting their properties frequently enough
- Huge portfolios can sometimes relinquish the personal element of letting property
- Tenants are increasingly concerned about security of tenure
What can we learn from The Week the Landlords Moved In?
As touched on above, it was made clear that some landlords just aren't visiting their properties enough. Site visits give landlords the chance to really see how the property is faring during a tenancy and see the true extent of any problems. It also helps to put names to faces and inject a personal touch back into a lettings business.
Several of the landlords featured in the series had portfolios so large that they didn't know the circumstances of any of their tenants or have time to visit properties. This led to a disconnect between landlords and tenants and in some cases increased the chances of maintenance issues not being reported or tenants being unhappy and more likely to move on.
Another key theme highlighted by the series was a lack of communication between both sides of the rental transaction. Many of the tenants featured were failing to report maintenance or damage issues – in turn allowing them to get worse. Meanwhile, the landlords were waiting to be contacted rather than being proactive and checking their properties and tenancies.
When communication and visibility were established, everyone was happier. Tenants could feel more comfortable about the homes they were living in and the landlords had a better grasp of their portfolio and the state of their properties.
Generally, the BBC series represented landlords in a positive light and those featured were responsible and law-abiding. This prime-time series steered away from some of the more sensationalist media representations of the rental sector, which was refreshing.
While all the landlords on the show learned invaluable lessons about how their tenants live, it was interesting to see that living in their rental properties for a week encouraged the majority to invest more money and improve the living conditions of their tenants.
The next episode airs on BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday 30th August 2017.
You can find out more about the series on the BBC website.