We like landlords. We speak with landlords all day, every day: we talk about their challenges, their doubts and their successes. Our company was created by Manoj, our CEO, who is a landlord, and we have landlords in Team Hammock.
So we know a thing or two about landlords. We know that being a landlord is a lonely business and that it can often take anyone on an emotional rollercoaster. We also know that landlords don’t always enjoy the best reputation and that negative stereotypes are easy to come across in this industry.
That’s why when we saw “Parasite” we had to buy a copy. And we were right to do so.
The writer, who calls herself ‘The Secret Landlord’, doesn’t pull any punches.
She talks openly about the challenges of running her own landlord business, the intricacies of keeping on top of laws and regulations, and of the demands of this profession, which doesn’t allow for standard working hours or time off. She also talks about her passion for her business, the emotional attachment to her properties, and of course, the relationship with her tenants.
We found her sincerity refreshing, her humour uplifting and her stories relatable (even the scary ones). After we turned the last page, we immediately got in touch with The Secret Landlord to talk about ‘Parasite’ with her: what follows is the result of our chat.
In your book, you say: ‘I used to be a nice person before I became a landlord’. That’s quite a powerful statement and it made us really curious. What are the main differences between before and after?
This is such a difficult question to answer. I think it comes down to me being so involved with the properties and the people who live in them. I truly want the best for people, but sometimes they let you down, and they let you down really badly and I take it personally.
I likely shouldn’t be so emotionally connected to the business, but I struggle with how to let go. I want to make a difference to people’s lives, to give them homes they can live in and be happy in, and so that’s always paramount to me. I feel blessed my tenants stay with me for so many years (I have some tenants who’ve been with me 14+ years), but I like to think it’s because I offer a good service.
A good working relationship is a two-way street and I try my hardest to always fulfil my side of the bargain.
Here at Hammock we speak to landlords every day and many of them, in one way or another, end up commenting on how lonely it can get, being a landlord.
I think the loneliness stems from always being the ‘responsible’ person, always being the one who has to make the decisions and stand by them, no matter what. That can feel overwhelming at times. I’m fortunate that I have many friends in property and so when I get stuck I call other people and get their thoughts.
I’m not afraid to ask for help. I think that’s key to my success, I never ever think I know it all. I seek out expert advice and guidance and I’m not afraid to say ‘I don’t know’.
And it’s also a quite demanding business in terms of attention to detail and efficiency, isn’t it?
I think it goes back to being the ‘boss’ and being the one who has to make the call. It’s your business, it’s your money to make or lose, that puts pressure. Nobody wants to screw up, but with ever-tightening legislation and regulation it can feel so incredibly tough. I’m a big fan of landlord organisations and legal helplines. I use them a lot whenever I’m faced with a situation and I’m unsure what to do. Knowing I have this support system, organisations who’re dedicated to this as their field of expertise, means I can relax a bit as I don’t have to know it all!
Let’s go back to the main theme of your book, before we close. Even when people don’t quite go as far as calling them “parasites”, landlords do suffer from a bad reputation. How do you see yourself and your role as a landlord?
I see myself as providing homes for people. I honestly love what I do and I feel proud that I have homed so many people over the years. I hate the way I am perceived by society, that makes me so sad. I have never set out to do anything more than perform, what I believe, to be a crucial role in society. It saddens me that I am seen as such an evil person because of what I do for a living.
However, the most important thing to me is that my tenants trust me and know I will always do the best for them. They are really the only people who matter. The fact they stay with me for years is the proof I am doing a good job.
So, what keeps you going?
My rhinoceros thick skin and brutal optimism! I truly believe, no matter what other people say, I am doing a good thing. I am providing homes to people for them to build their lives. I love being a small part of helping people find their future happiness. I love people and to know I can contribute in some way to their lives makes me feel good.