Landlords: The good and the bad

This article was originally published in Propertyfinder Trends 2017, Vol 3.


How to choose your landlord as carefully as you choose your property

The rental market has seen a big shift over the last year. Now is an excellent time for tenants to advocate for better deals and either upgrade to a bigger property or simply save some hard-earned money. There is more choice, the prices are lower, and based on this environment, one would think that the landlords would do everything in their power to retain or attract good tenants to their properties.

As brokers, we constantly hear from landlords that they only want good tenants and then stipulate their list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. I honestly think this is fine, but I do remind them that good tenants also want good landlords, and give them a list of things that would classify them as such.

The company I work for, Edwards and Towers, took the first keys for handover on the Palm in 2006. Palm Jumeirah Villas, eleven years later, have a good percentage of properties that need some TLC.

Even in these challenging rental times it amazes me how often we see property owners put very expensive real estate on the market in an appalling state, yet expect to receive premium prices. As a brokerage, we would love to avoid this type of landlord, and focus only on those that maintain their properties to a high standard. Unfortunately, there are landlords across Dubai that just don’t seem to understand the concept of asset management, and it would be impossible for us to ignore them.

There are two types of landlords: the ones that refuse to contribute a penny, and the ones that appreciate they have an asset that needs oversight and upkeep. Obviously, as a tenant you want the latter. I believe that the first viewing will identify the good from the bad, as from my experience the well-presented villas usually turn out to have sensible and realistic landlords.

The ‘You sort it’ Landlord

This kind of landlord infuriates me, and not just because they make agents look bad, but because they have extremely valuable assets that they neglect and allow to fall into disrepair.
The best way to figure out what type of landlord you may be committing to is to see how he or she presents the property for viewings.

There are two types of landlords: the ones that refuse to contribute a penny, and the ones that appreciate they have an asset that needs oversight and upkeep. Obviously as a tenant you want the latter.

I’ve always maintained that achieving the best price in a timely manner is directly related to the presentation at the beginning. We are not talking about new kitchens and bathrooms, but just basic cleanliness with good maintenance and well-kept gardens and pools. This is the way to impress a tenant.

Unfortunately, we were instructed in May to rent a Palm villa that looked like it had never been cleaned. It had many broken floor tiles, a dead garden and a pool that had started shedding its tiles at an alarming rate. Our beloved landlord was asking AED 500,000 per annum in one cheque.

After the first viewing the question was asked, ‘Will the landlord be sorting everything before anybody moves in?’ We politely asked the landlord who as quick as a ash said he was doing nothing. Its rented as seen and he wasn’t going to be doing any ongoing maintenance either.

A once beautiful garden home with views over the stunning Atlantis was now a wreck, but, admittedly, with views over Atlantis still. Just to remind you, AED 500,000 is $136,000. That’s a lot of rent money, and I believe the landlord should be doing everything he can to show that the house is worth it, and that he is worthy of your rental dollars. He should also be looking after an asset that is worth AED 12 million.

After being left empty for three months we finally rented the villa for AED 400,000 with a no maintenance clause. I can guarantee that if the villa was well-maintained and presented properly he would have attracted at least AED 460,000 and not had it vacant for three months.

The ‘I’ll sort it’ landlord

These are the guys we like at Edwards and Towers. They present their homes well, keep the garden maintained, and set up maintenance contracts or have the property managed by a professional management agent. At the same time we were dealing with Mr. ‘You sort it’ Landlord, we had the pleasure of a great listing from Mr. ‘I’ll sort it” Landlord.
This house was virtually identical to the previous one mentioned but immaculate. It still had original ttings but was superbly maintained, freshly painted inside and out, giving a sense of security to everybody that would walk through. The landlord had set up a maintenance contract and was realistic to the market conditions. Two weeks and four viewings later, the property was rented for AED 10,000 less than the marketed price, and there is one very happy tenant. This all sounds like common sense and most people say they would avoid the, ‘You sort it’ landlord like the plague, but sometimes the location and stunning view just gets the better of you.

3 things to ask your potential landlord:

  1. Will you provide a maintenance contract? This can be a big help in enjoying your home and taking the stress out of wondering if there are going to be any nasty surprises.
  2. Is the property managed or is there a local contactor that will respond to requests quickly? The best way to ensure property management is in place is to seek out properties that are managed by a reputable managing agent.
  3. How many maintenance issues have been over the past year, and what were they? You can use that record to gauge the landlord’s response and get an idea of the quality of the home. Houses are a bit different to cars, but things still go wrong if not looked after, and regular maintenance is required to enjoy the full benefits.

I recommend to every prospective tenant to have a good look around the market and hunt for the right house for them, but also bear in mind that your relationship with the landlord is critical. We would all love to be living in a home where the water pumps never break, and the A/C works flawlessly throughout the year. But this rarely happens. Good luck finding the “I’ll sort it” guy. They are out there, and they can’t wait to meet you.

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This article was originally published in Propertyfinder Trends 2017, Vol 3.

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Mark Towers

Managing Director, Edwards and Towers



EDUCATION MSc, Real Estate Investment, University of Liverpool
HIS WORDS I feel strongly that landlords should maintain their properties and offer tenants a property that is in good condition and will be maintained throughout the tenancy.

LESSON LEARNED Everything sells regardless of a good or bad market.

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