We find out what an ethical landlord is and get to understand the principles we’ll have to follow to be considered an ethical landlord ourselves.
I keep hearing the phrase “ethical landlord” from people I’ve asked about their experiences of buy to let. It’s usually in the context of using it as a contrast to “slum landlords”.
So what is an ethical landlord?
Why are ethical landlords different?
We’ve watched a lot of episodes of “Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords” and been horrified by how some of the tenants treat the property but more so by how some of the landlords treat their tenants.
Of course there are legal obligations about the standard of accommodation that you can let out. The government has set out the expected behaviours of landlords and tenants in regulations too. However ethical landlords seem to go above and beyond the basic requirements of the law.
Being a landlord isn’t inherently unethical. Over the last few years buy to let landlords have somehow achieved a reputation for taking advantage of tenants. Particularly of low income and otherwise vulnerable tenants who often have fewer choices of housing.
In summary, an ethical landlord uses their conscience and people skills. These are just as important as their commercial acumen to create a balance between tenants needs and profit. That’s the kind of landlords we want to be.
How to be an ethical landlord?
There are a number of things that ethical landlords do differently to other landlords. They are people not profit focussed. These are the commitments that we make to our tenants and ourselves.
- We will keep our properties in the same state of decoration and repair as our main home. If we wouldn’t live there no-one else should have to either. We will fix problems as quickly as we can manage after the tenant has reported them.
- Our tenants will be treated as people first. Their opinions, concerns and lives matter more than the cash in our bank account.
- We won’t discriminate against people on housing benefits. Ads that say things like “NO DSS” are horrible and lenders that have this as a criteria for a mortgage are not lenders that we want to work with.
- We will buy the properties no-one else wants because they are too run down. We want to bring them back into use as great homes that our tenants want to stay in long term. Even if we have to work harder with our contracts to keep our lender and our tenant happy.
- We will never enter a bidding war or outprice a local person who wants to buy the property as a place to live. This is our side hustle, that is their dream home.
- Our rent will be appropriate for the area and for the tenants circumstances. We may charge less than market rate to people who can’t quite afford it.
- Deposits are a sticky issue. Whether or not we need one from a tenant is a conversation not a certainty. It depends on the area, the tenant and the property.
- We only work with ethical people. Anyone who works for or with us needs to agree with and demonstrate that they share these principles.