1. Please introduce yourself. Say a bit about yourself and your company
Paul Shamplina, co-founder of Landlord Action. Landlord Action was set up in 1999, founded on the principle of providing a fixed-fee service to landlords and letting agents who have problem tenants. This was in response to solicitors, who were unable to give fixed fee rates or any indication of how long it would take to evict a tenant. Ten years later, Landlord Action have acted on nearly 17,000 instructions and become the market leader in dealing with problem tenants. We now have a free legal advice telephone line where landlords and letting agents can find out what their rights are when dealing with bad tenants.
2. How did you first become involved in property?
I have been working within legal services since the age of 16, dealing in Landlord and Tenant issues as a private investigator, process server and certified bailiff. The key moment was in 1999, when I was asked a friend to evict a problem tenant. Initially, he did not believe that his problem tenant could be evicted so quickly and within a fixed-fee structure. Amazed by the work that I had done for him, we set up Landlord Action together in 1999. The rest, as they say, is history.
3. What do you think is your greatest achievement so far?
Landlord Action being instructed on over 16,000 cases has got to be the greatest achievement. When a landlord has a problem tenant, often they do not know who to turn to. The process can be complicated, lonely and costly if they do not know what they are doing. After we have helped a landlord to evict a tenant, the relief in their voice means the world to us. Knowing that we have helped so many people who would not have known what to do really gives a sense of satisfaction.
4. Do you or your company have any exciting plans for the future?
We have recently released fixed fee debt recovery products, which have proved to be very popular as of late. We also have some new services lined up for the future which are quite exciting.
For the latest on what we are up to, landlords should sign up to our free newsletter on our website: www.LandlordAction.co.uk
5. What do you think are the greatest problems facing the private rented sector today?
From my experience of speaking to so many landlords and letting agents on a daily basis, I would say that it has to be the Local Housing Allowance problems. The issue is not that the system doesn’t work (clearly, there are thousands of landlords who have never had a problem with their LHA tenant), it is landlords and letting agents understanding of how the system works. This is why we have recently been going up and down the country giving seminars on how to make the LHA system work for you.
6. What do you think are the greatest opportunities?
In the current climate, I think the biggest opportunities are for companies who provide services to landlords to look at their own business models to better engage with their clients. We have always been strong advocates of landlord education, helping to equip landlords with the tools to make good business decisions themselves. People do not want to be ‘sold’ to these days: they want information to make up their own minds. The opportunity is there to engage with your clients and companies should take advantage of it as much as possible.
7. We have a new government. What would you like them to do for the private rented sector?
Landlord Action takes over 200 calls everyday from landlords and letting agents. As a result, we are in a unique position to hear what they want from the government. The overwhelming majority of landlords and letting agents want reforms to the LHA system, more specifically, they want direct payments to landlords as to avoid tenant rent arrears. Our clients are pleased that the Landlord Register idea has been scrapped: however, they do want to see more regulation of estate agents, letting agents and property investment companies in order to push the rogue operators out of the market.
8. Do you use social media (blogs, twitter, LinkedIn etc)? What place do you think it has in the future of the property industry?
We have only recently set up our social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). I am quite excited about engaging on a more personal level with landlords and letting agents and think it’s a great opportunity to stay in contact with people who, potentially, have many questions that we can help with.
Our twitter address is www.twitter.com/LandlordAction – feel free to add us to your list and do join the Landlord Action Facebook page as well. I also have my own Facebook and LinkedIn profile, so feel free to add me as a friend.
9. What is the most important lesson you have learned during your time in property?
Without a doubt, it is to ensure that any decisions regarding property/investment are measured, methodical and due diligence has been carried out at every opportunity. We have had too many landlords making hurried, ridiculous decisions (which they most probably wouldn’t make in the professions that they work within – so why do they do it with their property?) and it ends up costing them. Look at your property as a business, not a lifestyle. Take advice and do not rush. Ensure all the i’s are dotted and all of the t’s are crossed before entering into a purchase.
10. What advice would you have to someone thinking of entering the property industry today?
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Property can be a great long-term investment. I would advise someone who is entering the property industry to go back-to-basics. Look at the fundamentals. The location… Does the rent cover the cost of finance and leave some money in the pot? (There will be other costs down the line, such as relevant taxes, management fees, maintenance costs, legal fees, insurance, etc). Prepare a business model for each property with an exit strategy mapped out. Ensure everyone that you work with (your estate agent, lettings agent, insurance companies etc) all have relevant industry accreditation’s. Most importantly, be patient and do not buy into the ‘get rich overnight’ hype which does investors more harm than good.