Book Review: The Expert Landlord

David Beattie

Jonathan Ball Publishers

Review: Brian Joss

Author David Beattie manages 2 000 rental properties across Cape Town and Johannesburg so he knows what he is talking about. The Expert Landlord, has been endorsed by among other property experts, Vivien Marks and Neal Petersen, founder of the Assessment and Training Centre for Estate Agents;  property investor and publisher of Real Estate Investor Magazine respectively

The focus of the book is on residential properties and if you have just one house, several, or an apartment where you have a tenant, The Expert Landlord is for you. It tells you everything or almost everything about being a landlord but were afraid to ask.

It is divided in to three sections covering the spectrum of a landlord’s activities: The Expert Landlord Basics;  Placing A Quality Tenant and Managing Like A Pro, with numerous sub-headings under each chapter.

Beattie uses an example of the landlord, Thabo, who couldn’t care less about the two properties he owns and rents out to friends and family members as he was happy with the income. But his largesse and don’t care attitude soon come back to bite him. When his cousin vacated the property there was a lot of damage and Thabo was forced to foot the extensive repair  bill himself.  Sunette, on the other hand, was meticulous about the way she handled her investments and because she was also conscientious in her dealing with her tenants, she realised the maximum potential of all her properties that she acquired over the years.

Beattie explains why it is necessary to know why you want to be a landlord: there are two types, the accidental landlord who inherits a property and the active investor when the landlord chooses to buy property as an investment in the future. But, says Beattie, putting it in a nutshell, managing a property is much more than just collecting rent. Responsibilities include what seem to be obvious. But are often ignored as landlords think it is easy money. Advertising the property and finding a suitable tenant, doing proper reference checks, and being available at inconvenient (to you) times, and taking good care of the properties, are just some of the issues you need to consider. Importantly, as a landlord, you are at risk from the vagaries of the market which means some events are beyond your control and you will have to know how to factor it in to avoid disaster.

An important section of the book is Rent Collection and Beattie spells out a plan that will prevent payment problems. There are also case studies that explain how to deal with delinquent tenants.

Eviction is always tricky and for most landlords it is a bugbear Remember that tenants will and do lie. It often seems that the tenant has more rights than the landlord. However, for various reasons, the court case may take months to resolve, so it may be easier to reach a negotiated settlement with the tenant. It is always advisable to consult a specialist attorney. The chapter Common Landlord Questions, has all the answers you need to some of those vexing problems. Wrapping it up is probably one of the most important sections and thoughtfully, Beattie also gives advice on how to clean your property to make it more rentable, without having to spend a fortune on a cleaning service. There is a glossary of property terms.

The Expert Landlord is written in plain English, no legalese at all and it is easy to navigate. There are templates and online links for any documents you may need (www.theexpertlandlord.com and www.pocketlet.com, a mobile app with property management tools. The Expert Landlord retails for about R200 and if you’re into property it is probably one of the best investments you’ll make this year.

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