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Let’s celebrate women who are excellent landlords

Montage photo of Sarah Watt, Caroline Pattinson, Louisa Trunks, women who are excellent landlords international women's day

In this blog post, I’d like to celebrate three women who I consider to be excellent landlords. They focus on the experience of renters, and creating lovely places for them to make into a home. They’re very professional in the way they manage their portfolios, yet at the same time they are genuinely caring.

To me, they embody excellence as a landlord.

So often at property investor networking events, people ask “how many properties do you have?”, “where do you invest?”, “what strategies do you use?” and how much do they “cash flow?”, as if these are the only things that count. They’ll probably talk about “passive income”, and how much money they “pull out” or projects so they can recycle the deposit.

There is less focus on what makes a great rental property from the renter’s perspective. Yet, to create sustainable businesses, we all need to focus on the needs of our customers. For landlords, that’s our tenants. And because we provide homes for people to live in, it’s not the same as selling widgets. We need to be even more customer-focused and have a sense of social responsibility.

So, for this International Women’s Day 2024, I’d like to take a moment to analyse what these three women do to win recognition as being “excellent landlords”.

This is a “pink-free” blog post, without all the International Women’s Day clichés you see in the first week of March every year. This is the same type of blog post that I publish week in, week out, highlighting best practice, which usually involves me giving examples of landlords, brokers, and other service providers, the majority of whom just happen to be women.

But as it’s the first week in March, this is a follow up to my post for IWD last year about successful women in property investing, and this year, I talk about excellent landlords who are also women.

>> Related Post: Let’s celebrate successful women in property investing (International Women’s Day 2023)

>> PropertyHub: Stronger together: how women support and empower each other in the property sector (March 2024)

>> Related Post: Landlord guide to successful HMO management

What makes an excellent landlord?

Summary from A Private Rented Sector of the attributes of landlords who demonstrate good practice

Let’s start with what the government considers as landlords who “demonstrate good practice”, as defined in A Fairer Private Rented Sector pg. 19. These landlords are engaged, they belong to a landlord association, are aware of legislative changes and are compliant with best practice, which goes over and above legislation.

Going beyond mere “good practice”, what does excellent look like?

All of these landlords are members of the NRLA (this is an affiliate link which gives a £15 discount) and they take compliance seriously. They also prioritise the experience of the renters who live in their homes, by taking care over tenant selection for HMOs, and keeping consistently high standards of decor, maintenance and communication.

It’s a state of mind that has the experience of renters at the heart of everything they do.

>> Related Post: How to be a good landlord

>> Related Post: How to attract good tenants and keep them happy

Caroline Pattinson of Chester Homeshare

Caroline Pattinson in one of her HMOs in Chester
Caroline Pattinson of Chester Homeshare
We, as landlords, can make a massive difference to somebody’s mental health and well-being by the houses we put together. How we run them. How we respond to people. How safe we make people feel. Can they relax in their own home?

Caroline Pattinson has been a landlord since 1995, since the days when HMOs were shared houses. They had a reputation of being like the house in The Young Ones starring Rick Mayall, and landlords would advertise “rooms for rent” in the local paper. I remember it well.

Caroline got the idea of being a landlord when working as a property lender, and then a senior bank manager, at Natwest. Interest rates were 9%, and the Housing Act 2004 was a distant prospect. She has since had over 1,000 tenants, or “customers” as she prefers to call them.

This choice of the word “customer” is deliberate. She strives to create an “outstanding experience” for the people who live in her houses. She self-manages with a team, but handpicks the tenants for each house herself, to create a community, treating them with respect, whilst having firm boundaries.

Then, as now, Caroline saw a need for young people (aged 22-30) to be able to rent somewhere nice, that is affordable and close to their work, and where they’d be living with similar people. She strives to create harmonious homes where her customers feel safe and have a sense of belonging. Somewhere they are proud to live.

Not only did Caroline win ‘Best Professional HMO Manager’ in the HMO Awards 2022, she also won ‘Best HMO Manager of the Year, Tenants’ Choice. She now has a wait list, zero voids and no rent arrears.

When I asked Caroline what she thinks makes a good landlord, she said “I think my customers say best what’s important to them”, and sent me a link to the reviews on Google for Chester Homeshare.

Chester Homeshare has over 50 reviews from the last year. They are extraordinary, with the common themes of high quality service, responsiveness, care in choosing tenants and high standards. Here’s a representative sample:

  • “I had a wonderful experience. Caroline was responsive to any concerns, maintained the property well, was always professional. Her friendly and helpful attitude made my renting experience truly enjoyable.”
  • “Caroline’s communication is top shelf, she’s happy to help with any and all queries.”
  • “Caroline has been brilliant! All my housemates are a similar age to me and all extremely friendly.”
  • “It’s the most hassle free renting experience I’ve had […] a lot of effort went into making sure the tenants in their houses are both well chosen and well looked after.”
  • “Caroline is very responsive and helpful and is always there when you need her.”
  • “Fantastic landlord with great, top spec properties in great locations.”

Caroline is a member of the NRLA, and I met her in person at the NRLA conference in 2023. She’s warm and bubbly, and determined to provide outstanding service to her customers.

If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord, listen to Caroline’s interview with Andy Graham on the HMO Podcast from December 2023. It’s inspiring. She has the right priorities.

>> Useful Resource: Andy Graham’s interview with Caroline Pattinson on the HMO Podcast

Sarah Watt of Alt Street Property

Sarah Watt of Alt Street Property

Sarah Watt is a qualified Certified Public Accountant (CPA), who is originally from Australia. Together with her husband, Andrew, they run Alt Street Property, which specialises in co-living HMOs, as well as pet friendly single lets for families.

I’ve been following Sarah for a long time on social media. In fact, it was Sarah who gave me the referral code to get a discount off my NRLA membership a few years ago. (Use SSAFF15 to get £15 off your first year’s membership! 😊).

Sarah’s approach to being a landlord is to treat others how you’d like to be treated yourself. She had a bad experience as a renter with small dog when she moved to the UK from Australia, with the agent not respecting their right to quiet possession. Maintenance requests were always down to the tenant, and they even tried to hold them responsible for damage to the property that was there when they moved in.

She thought there had to be a better way, so she set up Alt Street Property with Andrew, and developed houses that were pet-friendly, before expanding into co-living HMOs. Like Caroline, they provide a higher level of service to their customers than is the industry norm. They self-manage their portfolio, which gives them control over every aspect, and even arrange for cleaners to put out the black bins once a fortnight to make sure rubbish doesn’t pile up at their HMOs. (See the blog post on Successful HMO Management for more details).

They’ve had brilliant feedback from their tenants, who love being able to go direct to the landlord, rather than having to go through an agent. After all, tenant research from OSB Group shows that the tenants of landlords who manage their properties themselves are considerably more likely to feel the landlord is caring, fair and trustworthy than those who deal with an agent.

>> Related Post: How to attract good tenants and keep them happy

Louisa Trunks of Greenway Property

Louisa Trunks and Lee-Anne Ingham of Greenway Property
Louisa Trunks with her business partner Lee-Anne Ingham, co-founders of Greenway Property

Louisa Trunks is both a letting agent and a landlord, and runs Greenway Property in Cornwall with her business partner Lee-Anne Ingham, and their respective husbands. Their strapline is: “Good because we care. People. Property. Planet.”

Like Caroline and Sarah, Louisa is an NRLA Accredited Landlord, and I met her in person at the NRLA conference in October 2023, after first having spoken to her online to pick her brain about HMO management for a blog post.

Louisa was previously a fundraising consultant for charitable organisations, and she brings her “strategic, systems focused, delivery obsessed brain” to the business, to improve the customer experience.

She believes that being a good landlord means “recognising that the quality of someone’s home is fundamental to their wellbeing and quality of life… and caring about that”. At Greenway Property, they measure their quality by whether they’d be happy for their children or parents to live in their accommodation. They truly do care, and work hard to “craft harmonious households” and “curating groups that work well together”.

In order to keep up standards, the have specialist HMO in-house cleaning and maintenance teams to ensure the properties they manage stay in top condition. There isn’t a one size fits all approach, as their large 24-bed HMO is cleaned three times a week, whereas their HMOs with up to 4 bedrooms are cleaned fortnightly.

Caring landlords who keep high standards encapsulate the approach of excellent landlords.

>> Related Post: Landlord guide to successful HMO management

Final thoughts

Kim Opszala, Caroline Pattinson, Louise Reynolds, Suzanne Smith, Lorraine Thomas, Jessica Leader
8 excellent landlords, who happen to be women, at the NRLA conference in October 2023:
Kim Opszala, Caroline Pattinson, Louise Reynolds, Suzanne Smith, Lorraine Thomas and Jessica Leader

The three excellent landlords I’ve featured in this post are not an anomaly, but are part of a growing number of landlords who are customer-focused and choose to offer a high quality service to renters.

They bring transferrable skills and experience from past careers, adhering to the golden rule, and caring about the people who live in the properties.

This International Women’s Day 2024, I’d like to celebrate the many excellent landlords, who happen to be women. If you’re starting out as a landlord, you’d be well advised to follow their lead, and focus on the experience of your renters as you run your business.

>> Related Post: How to be a good landlord

>> Join: The Independent Landlord Community Private Facebook Group (landlords only)

celebrating women who are excellent landlords Sarah Watt, Caroline Pattinson, Louisa Trunks

3 thoughts on “Let’s celebrate women who are excellent landlords”

  1. Brilliant article, As being both a real estate agent and landlord over the last 15 years. I’ve dealt with the very good and bad of landlords. So it’s wonderful to see some incredible leading the way of raising the standards and providing incredible levels of service as landlords. Amazing to recognise this and continue to improve standards across the board.

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