My Landlord Life: Ashley Wong

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This week we met landlord Ashley Wong, who has a portfolio of properties across the country. She is a full-time landlord and aspiring solicitor. She spoke to us about her journey so far: 

How did you take your first step onto the landlord ladder

Understanding land is a scarce resource, I know its value will only go in one direction. Hence I simply kept saving over the years with the intention of owning something someday.  

In 2014, I stumbled upon an affordable property in the suburb which I had my eyes on. Together with two other potential buyers, I put an offer.  As all the offers were at asking price, the vendor made a random selection and my offer was rejected.  

Not willing to give up, I constantly emailed the agent requesting updates on the conveyancing and to let me know if there were any changes. The agent contacted me one day out of the blue.  The original offer had fallen through as the buyer accepted an overseas job offer and no longer needed the property. I resubmitted my offer which got accepted. 

I was overjoyed as my persistence paid off. The saying good things come to those who wait is so true.  

Have you had any nightmare experiences?

 Absolutely. Previously I had an international student as my tenant. Having no credit history nor a local guarantor, he paid me upfront for the length of his lease. 

When the lease came up for renewal, he was back home for his holidays. So while he agreed and signed the lease renewal, he did not pay me upfront nor did he respond to the chasers to do so.  As his rent arrears built up, I appointed an eviction specialist to see to the eviction procedures.

Complications kicked in because while he signed the new lease agreement, I had not. The eviction specialist and the letting agent were divided in their views on whether there was a new lease agreement or the lease had automatically become a statutory agreement. 

Not wanting to delay the eviction procedures, I appointed a solicitor to get onto the case. The matter proceeded to hearing and a week before the hearing, the tenant cleared his arrears. As a result I lost the Section 8 ground to evict the tenant. Luckily, he initiated to surrender his lease and I readily accepted. 

He moved out the week before the first national lockdown and the new tenants moved in two days before the lockdown. That was such a close shave. Despite the nightmare experience, I couldn’t have been more lucky.  

What’s been your best experience in your landlord career?

The tenant in one of my Northampton properties has been with me since January 2018.  He not only pays on time, but also maintains the property as if he owns it. I could not ask for a better tenant. 

What would be the best piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?

Property investment can be highly rewarding, but the management of the property can be stressful, for example, dealing with tenants’ complaints, rent arrears and suchlike.  

One of the trainers I use makes a distinction between a landlord and an investor.  He defines the landlord as one who self-manages, whereas an investor has minimal involvement in the daily operations.  It is important to be honest with yourself about the time you have to run the property and whether this is something you want to do.  If not, consider using a letting agent, conducting proper due diligence before appointing one.  

So as to help other landlords I co-authored and recently published an ebook titled Choose the Right Letting Agent – A Property Investor’s Guide which is an operating manual for property investors on the selection, appointment, termination and issue resolution with letting agents.  

Would you change if you could do it all again?

Start earlier! I just wish I knew there are plenty of good and credible property trainers around. I really could have started my property journey much much earlier. 

Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

I have always aspired to be a solicitor but struggled to get the required work experience / training contract to qualify. Hopefully with the recent introduction of a new regime to qualify as a solicitor, I will be on my way.  

I enjoy legal work and want to give back to the community who has supported me. For me, there is no better way to do it than to be a solicitor.

I would also like to do more travels within Europe and North America. To live in Manhattan has always been a very much cherished dream, I hope to realise it. 

 If you could have any tenant, who would you choose?

 I would choose a family who would be with me while they save for their own home. It is a privilege and gratifying to know that I have provided quality housing to someone until they get theirs. 

As a landlord, I firmly believe I have the duty to supply housing that is comfortable, functional and, above all, safe.  

Thanks so much to Ashley for taking the time to share her story.

We’d love to hear from you! We know every landlord’s experience is different and we’d love to share your story. If you’d like to get involved in our My Landlord Life series, drop us an email at chat@mashroom.com

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