1) Could you tell me how you got started in property?
I got started in property because I wanted to be in control of my financial destiny and because my husband (Nick) and I wanted to create our own future in an activity that we could work together in. Property seemed like a natural choice. I was already an “accidental” landlord in my mid-20’s because my flat in London had a defective lease, so I could not sell it to move to a larger flat. So I had no choice but to rent it out. My second London flat had gone up massively in value and Nick had a house as well … so we already had 3 between us at the start of our married life.
We decided to commit to property investment 100%, so we attended a weekend property seminar in April 2004 and totally immersed ourselves in everything to do with property.
We released equity from my flat in London and started building our portfolio. Eleven years later it now consists of 1 and 2 bed apartments in London, family homes in the South East, some flats and houses up North, and two South coast holiday lets.
2) How did PT get started?
Property Tribes got started because we could not find a professional, independent, impartial, and friendly on-line space where landlords could learn through discussion and robust debate. So we created such a space as we ourselves wanted to learn and grow and build a network of property friends. It started out in February 2009 as me and a handful of my property contacts, and now, 6 years later, we have over 14,000 members and are in the top 2 busiest landlord and property communities in the U.K.
It was never intended to be anything other than a space for us to connect and share, because we believe that “none of us is as smart as all of us” and we realised how amazing the “hive mind” of knowledge and experience is. People have never been as connected as they are now via the social web and this connectedness has many positive features. It can help you use other people’s hindsight as your foresight and help you avoid pitfalls and accelerate your results. It can help you solve problems. It can help raise standards through education, awareness, and the sharing of best practice. It can help expose sharp practice and rogue behaviour.
About three years ago, we realised that we had something really special in Property Tribes, and other people did too. We then began to take it seriously and develop it into becoming a phenomenal landlord and property resource that would, as a by-product, help improve standards in the private rented sector through education and awareness.
Vanessa Warwick’s view on the 2015 property market
3) What is next for PT?
Late last year we received six figure private investor funding to help us take Property Tribes to the next level and make it serve landlords even more comprehensively. We are currently undertaking a re-design of the site that will improve the user experience and provide additional tools for landlords to manage their properties. We will be providing reasons for landlords to visit the site daily and helping them get the most out of the massive databank of landlord knowledge that Property Tribes curates.
Our aim is to make PT the moneysavingexpert.com of the property world and we will achieve that by being the No. 1 source of landlord and property intelligence, news, views, and opinion.
4) What are some of the mould horror stories that you have heard from domestic tenants?
Mould and damp are extremely dangerous to health and we believe that landlords need to take these matters very seriously. As landlords, we are legally obliged to provide tenants with warm and safe homes to live in. Tenant well-being should be at the heart of what every landlord does and we promote that on Property Tribes, highlighting compliance and best practice.
I’ve heard a horror story of a student house that was riddled with mould and damp and the landlord refused to do anything about it. There was also a water leak and it created a balloon in the ceiling where the water had accumulated. The landlord turned up to “fix” the problem. He took a screwdriver and pierced the plaster. Two bucket loads of water rained down on the tenants bed. “All fixed” he said as he left. This kind of behaviour disgusts me! These rogue landlords need to be driven from the industry as they are a danger to tenants health and well being not to mention giving decent and ethical landlords a bad name!
Vanessa Warwick interviews property investor Phil Stewardson
5) Do you think tenants and LL’s know the range of mould protection devices available to them (from wardrobe moisture removers to full sized dehumidifiers)?
No I don’t! That is why I was pleased to come across ByeMould.com. On moving into a new rental property, I think all tenants should be given a leaflet on preventing mould and damp, understanding to open windows etc and to be mindful of drying laundry on radiators etc.
There is a very useful leaflet mentioned on our thread about damp and mould on Property Tribes.
The social web and specialist interest sites like Property Tribes are a great way to educate landlords as to the options to combat these problems and they don’t necessarily have to be expensive!. We welcome all contributions from people who can share any valuable insights. The more awareness we can get out there, the more landlords and tenants will know how to deal with damp and mould, and then we can reduce its impact on the private rented sector, because it is currently one of the main complaints reported by tenants … and yet it is perfectly possible to fix it.
6) Any last words of advice?
My advice is for all landlords and tenants to take the issue of damp and mould seriously. It can damage health, and is even more of an issue for children and babies.
Tenants should check any rental property for this problem BEFORE moving in and report it to the landlord if it later appears.
The Landlord should then act immediately to get rid of the problem by seeking specialist advice.
If the landlord does not deal with the problem, the tenant should contact the local council and request an HHSRS inspection.
The housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) is a risk-based evaluation tool to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks and hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. It was introduced under the Housing Act 2004 and applies to residential properties in England and Wales.
This assessment method focuses on the hazards that are present in housing. Tackling these hazards will make housing healthier and safer to live in.
This guidance is aimed at non-specialists, in particular private landlords, to help them understand the requirements under the Housing Act 2004 in relation to the HHSRS and help them identify the type of work that is needed on their properties to conform with the HHSRS.
You can download the guidance >>> here.
The report identifies ten hazards:
2. Excess cold
3. Excess heat
4. Asbestos and MMF
6. Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
9. Uncombusted fuel gas
10. Volatile organic compounds
As a community, we can work together, through education and awareness, to banish mould and damp from private rented accommodation.
Thanks to ByeMould for interviewing me and keep up the fight against this blight in rental property!
Thank you, Vanessa, for your time and great insights!