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Every Agent Has a Story: Doug Driscoll

Our next story comes from Doug Driscoll, CEO of Starr Partners, who shares the two key lessons he learned after confronting a dangerous and unreliable tenant in the UK.

  • Before approaching a problematic tenant, take the extra time to research into their history and get assistance if needed.
  • Rather that rushing to fill a vacancy, think about looking carefully for the right tenant who is reliable and with a positive credit history.

Transcript

Hi, I’m Doug Driscoll, CEO of Starr Partners.

I guess my story today is certainly not a funny one. Well, certainly not amusing for me, but it may be for some of you watching. It’s a dual perspective. It’s the view of a landlord, and also see a view of someone from within the industry, of course.

It leads to a rogue tenant I had in a property in England last year. This property is one that I carefully and lovingly renovated and restored, so there was a, I guess, an emotional attachment to it. When it went onto the market the agent found someone new for, probably within about a day or two. Two or three months, no problems. All going swimmingly. As a landlord, didn’t hear a thing, and no news is good news.

After a couple of months I got a rather distressed phone call from the property manager, who’d said that the tenant had basically threatened her for some reason. She was trying to go in there for an inspection of some sort. Then, literally a few days later, I received an email from one of my neighbours who said that he’d also threatened her. Threatened to beat up her husband. I started to form the opinion this tenant was a bit of a […]

Unfortunately, those fears were compounded about two weeks later when he didn’t pay the rent at the end of the month. Then, one month landed into two months, and the guy obviously went missing in action. You know the story.

It just so happens that actually, I was visiting the UK that summer. I actually decided to take it upon myself to go and have a word with the guy, and confront him. It just so happened, absolutely coincidentally of course, that afternoon of that visit I was hanging out with my mate, Big Dog, who’s a cage fighter. Just coincidental of course. His real name isn’t Big Dog, he wasn’t christened that, he’s Rob. Lovely guy, don’t mess with him, but lovely guy.

I turned up at the house, knocked at the door. Low and behold, the tenant was in, and he answered. Once I introduced myself, let’s just say he had a bit of a startled look on his face. For him, I was just a nameless, faceless, landlord from Australia.

After a very frank conversation, and/or confrontation, basically I realised that he wasn’t remorseful, he wasn’t regretful, and he knew exactly what he was doing. The system in the UK is such, wherein it’s not easy to throw someone out of the house, you know. Whereas here, you may take couple of months; there, it’s probably five or six months. Eventually, he got turfed out.

As and when he was, he destroyed all the furniture in there. Not only did he cost me thousands and thousands of dollars of lost income for the rent, he also destroyed all the furnishings in the property. Again, several more thousand you can add to the bill.

I guess the moral to this story is not to go confronting tenants first hand, and getting up in their grill. It’s more so around doing more detailed, and more forensic, research into a tenant. Once I found out he wasn’t paying his rent, I just googled the guy. It was amazing, actually, what came back.

The other, I guess, moral to the story is that 82% of the people that interviewed, being landlords, actually would be prepared to find the right tenant, and would be prepared to wait, rather than just someone sticking someone in there, and obviously covering the bills straight off the bat.

As I said, a very valuable lesson for me, and hopefully a valuable one for you.

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