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Vanda Morris was born in the Netherlands and has

lived in the UK with her English husband for 54

years. Vanda worked for 41 years as a nurse at
Lincoln Hospital, she has one daughter who lives and
works in America as an interior designer and one
granddaughter who is a pharmacist. Vanda spent 40
years buying, refurbishing and selling properties both
in the UK and Europe and feels that the wealth of
experience gained should be passed on to others who
enjoy this work. At 70 years old Vanda is still buying

My thanks to Chris, my friend and neighbour who helped
with the preparation of this book.

Vanda Mor r i s


Copyright Vanda Morris

The right of Vanda Morris to be identified as author of this work
has been asserted by her in accordance with section 77 and 78 of
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the

Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this
publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil
claims for damages.

A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British

ISBN 978 184963 982 8

First Published (2014)
Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.
25 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
E14 5LB

Printed and bound in Great Britain


My thanks to my publisher for recognising the value of my

I feel that this book will be very useful to anyone buying a
property to let.
For 30 years I have been buying properties and selling
and I would like to help the people who are first time buyers,
who would like to buy and then let. My experience over 30
years tells it is not easy if you dont know what you are
I dont believe in fantasy, I believe in the real world and
the real world is not easy. It may be that some people will
read this book and think that I am old-fashioned or mad, but
thats their opinion. Everybody is entitled to their own
opinion. I would like to help people. I have been buying
houses since the 1970s and refurbishing them. My book is
based on true stories. I used to have two jobs: one
refurbishing houses and one nursing. In the morning I go to
work in the hospital and in the afternoon I am dealing with
contractors. In the early days, the contractors used to charge
me lots of money for the materials and when I bought my
own materials it was a cheaper job. I bought the houses in the
East Midlands when property was very cheap in the 60s and
70s, but if I had bought in the South, I am sure I would have
made much more money. When I started buying the houses,
nobody had heard of buying to refurbish and houses that you
can make money on. In those days I could have bought a
house for about 16,000 in the Lincolnshire and
Nottinghamshire areas and materials were not so expensive
like now. Now, materials and properties are very expensive to
buy. When I bought my first house in 1972 nobody had heard
about property developers. I worked with my own common
sense to refurbish and make the house nice and clean, and
give tenants the chance to live comfortably. Not every tenant

appreciated that and over the years there was very bad
publicity about landlords and landladies because they thought
that tenants were being ripped off. I had tenants for many
years and experienced very interesting situations. I had
working- class people, professional people, but even the
professional people were not always very good and did not
leave the house in good order. Houses became filthy because
they were not interested in cleaning.
Buying properties now is very expensive. When I started
buying properties in the 1970s and 1980s it was much
cheaper, but even so wages were not very high, so it was still
a struggle to buy because you had to get a mortgage and all
banks needed confirmation that you could afford to pay them
Lots of people told me that buying the houses and doing
them up is an investment for their retirement. It is not as easy
as people think. If you buy a house and take out a mortgage,
as the majority of people do, you have got to pay the
mortgage. Tenants are not always reliable so never ever rely
on the tenants to pay your mortgage. In my situation I did
have a second job, and if the tenant does not pay then I had to
pay from my wages, and believe me, it is not that easy.
People think that you just have the tenants and everything
goes very smooth. It is not! Also, when tenants move out the
houses can be in a dreadful state, you have to refurbish every
time tenants move out. Tenants will not give a property back
as it was when first rented because I was very friendly with
them, and they said well I will rent and when it gets dirty I
will move somewhere else. It is all left to the landlord to put
the property back to the original condition, repair the
damages, replace items etc. or no-one will rent from you if
the property is dirty and because it is such a vast market,
people now can pick and choose.
Years ago, it was very difficult when renting to people
who were unemployed. One man who was unemployed and
on benefits went out one day and left the taps running in the
kitchen and water flooded the kitchen.

For example, I had one lady who had a child, took all
handles off the kitchen, and radiator caps were found
missing. People say you have to take a deposit to cover all the
damages, but, believe me, it doesnt work like that. If you
take a deposit the tenant is very clever, they dont pay the last
months rent and thats their recovery of the deposit,
therefore you have completely lost the deposit and you are
left to put everything right. Tenants will not give the property
back in the same condition as when taking out the tenancy
agreement, so you need to prepare for that.
I had a tenant who did not want to pay the rent for some
time. Many years ago, there was not any short-term tenancy
agreements and you had difficulty when you wanted to give
them notice and they did not want to go. Also, if they dont
pay the rent then you have a real problem.
I had one single mother who did not pay. They used to
give her a cheque to pay the rent, but she didnt pay the rent,
she just kept the cheque and spent it and the rent was in
arrears. When I knocked on the door, she always sent her son
to answer the door. I asked him where is your mother. I
dont know he said, but she is shouting from upstairs I am
not here. I took her to court because the rent was behind for
years. I won the case but I could not get any money because
she is on benefits. She also left the house in a dreadful state
and I had to spend lots of money to put it right. So believe
me, be aware about this. I would not say every tenant is like
that but there of lots of them like that.
I had one lady in the 80s who never wanted to pay the
rent (again she was a single mother). She stopped paying the
rent completely, so I took the case to court and won but
couldnt get anything from her. So I was in a desperate
situation because she did not want to leave and she did not
want to pay rent either. So I went to see my friend Marion
and was very upset because I had to pay the mortgage and I
hadnt received the rent, so I am really in a desperate
situation. Her next door neighbour had listened to our
conversation and he said to me, I will help you. I wondered

how he could help me because I had been to court and
nothing had been done so what could he do. He said, Leave
it to me, solicitors just waste your time. He said, I know
what to do with people like that, just leave it to me. Later on
he asked me, Are you going to pay me 50?
I said, What for?
He said, I will kick her out.
I said, No way, you cant kick people out. The court
gave an order for possession but she still would not go, she
said she had nowhere to go.
He said, Have you got any appliances in that house.
Yes, I said, Ive got a cooker and fire.
He said, OK leave it to me. I bought the cooker on HP
and because she will not pay rent I am struggling. He
knocked on her door and said he was a debt collector. She
didnt want to let him in, but he pushed his way in and said
he had to sell the appliances to get the money back because
Mrs Morris cant pay for the appliances. He capped it all and
left the house in a very safe situation. Anyway, the next day
she left. Thank god for that! I did not like to do that to
anybody, but she got money from the council and put it in her
pocket, spent the money and the rent was not paid. I had to
pay the mortgage and appliances and she couldnt care a
damn for me.
My experiences over 40 years are enormous and I cannot
record all of it in this book. I would need two or three books
to be able to explain everything.
I also had a house where the tenants put the telephone
number in my name.
Luckily in 1982, the government realised that if they
wanted the landlords to buy the houses for people to rent they
had to do something about the situation. So they passed a law
on a short-term tenancy agreement for six months, then you
renewed it if you still wanted the tenants. In some cases, the
landlords used Estate Agents. I never did this because I
always believed that nobody could look after my properties

better than myself. Lots of Estate Agents said tenants were
looking for landlords or landladies like you, private, and they
dont do any cleaning or look after the house. I always
believed that was true, but in my research I asked so many
people about their experience over the years with Estate
Agents. Lots of people have told me that they had rented
houses through Estate Agents and they never saw the rents.
The Estate Agency does not want to evict the tenants because
they would lose their commissions. When I started renting
houses, Estate Agents never did rent houses for the private
landlord. In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, we did not exist and only
the council could rent houses to people.
From then on I never liked single mothers. When I
advertised in the papers, lots of single mothers applied and I
am sure not all single mothers are like that. They always
think landlords have got lots of money; they are rich
bastards they call us, but thats not true. I had to borrow and
I have to be responsible for what I am doing. She could not
care less she is not responsible for anything. All she was
worried about is getting money off Social Services, have
plenty of babies and get lots of boyfriends. I have to have two
jobs. It is not true that landlords are very rich and I would like
to put the record straight on that. I watched a programme
once in London that kept saying landlords were renting
properties that are very dirty. They should see the properties
when the tenants took over. In some situations tenants never
cleaned the properties.
I had professional people: a schoolteacher, and did not
take single mothers any more. But believe me, the
schoolteacher was very dirty. We had black bags in them
days not wheelie bins. She kept the black bags piled up in the
utility room and never took them out. One year later she
moved out so I had to clean the house and I had a man who
came with a truck to clear all the rubbish. It took three trucks
full of rubbish. When the man went to clean the utility room,
there were rats jumping about and one rat bit him on the ear
so he had to go to hospital, and that is not a pleasant situation.

I cant imagine a schoolteacher leaving it in that condition. I
had not been to the house for a year to inspect because I
believed that as a professional lady, she would never dream
of doing anything like this. Anyway, when she left, I cleaned
the house and put it in good order. I said, now, Im going to
get someone really decent.
Then luckily, a Jehovahs Witness, wanted to rent the
house. So I thought great, I am lucky because a Jehovah
Witness would never do anything like keeping the rubbish in
the house and they will look after the house, and he told me
he would do the painting himself. He asked if I minded if he
decorated the way he liked. I said yes, because you live in the
house and pay rent and you can decorate whatever colour you
like. I went six months later. I had sent a letter to say I was
going to visit him and to see how he had got on. When I saw
the house, I could not believe my eyes. He had painted a
black ceiling. The kitchen was only one year old and he had
messed with the electrical wiring and the bathroom was
disgusting. I said, Look, you cant do this without my
permission, you have to tell me what you want to do, and if I
agree OK, but not just carry out work without my
permission. It was dangerous what he had done and I
couldnt imagine that a Jehovahs Witness could be like that.
Nine months later, he had a wife and children, and he left
them in that house with wires hanging, it was a dangerous
place. His wife called me and asked me to come to the house
to see what he had done. I took an electrician and a plumber
to the house and they both said the house was very dangerous
and needed sorting out. So I immediately asked the
electrician to sort the wire hanging and the plumber to sort
everything he had to do. The bill was around 900, so I asked
his wife where he had gone and she said he had gone to
Nottingham. I searched for Jehovahs Witnesses in
Nottingham and found their Elder and asked for someone to
help me. They said they could not do anything to help me and
refused to pay this bill. I cant believe how people can do this
sort of thing, I thought they were kind people.

Rented houses in the South and Midlands are different
because the rent is much higher in the South and Midlands
much lower
I have bought so many houses and sold so many houses
and my advice to young people and first-time buyers, they
should have a survey done. I never had a survey and I never
had the searches because I know the searches are just to get
more money out of people. For example, the land is
contaminated. This is how the searches get money out of
people I had searches on the drain but still could not find
what the matter was, so it is a waste of time and waste of
money, however, I wouldnt advise anyone to buy without a
My personal advice is for young people to have searches
and to have a surveyor. In my experience, I did not need it
because I knew what to look for.
Back to houses. Over the years, houses do go up and
down, boom and bust, so many times and many people have
been left in negative equity in the past. When there is a boom,
I advise people never to buy the house, always wait because
boom and bust happens very quickly. Now, at the moment it
is a boom, especially in the South. Young people cant afford
this: you are talking about a 1 bedroom maisonette in London
costing about half a million. This is just ridiculous. Many
years back, it was a different price. I know when Nigel
Lawson introduced the tax, couples had tax relief if they
bought properties. I bought a house once and got gazumped
somebody paid 10,000 higher. If they keep putting prices
up, you end up in negative equity. It is best to stop and wait.
There was stagnation from 1999 to the Millennium. At the
moment there is a boom. Houses do go up and down all the
time but I wouldnt advise anyone to buy when there is a
boom. For example, in Spain, a programme said you will
make money. Look at Spain now. I personally bought a house
in Spain myself and lost an enormous amount of money. I
had a house valued at 260,000 euros and I had to sell for
30,000 just to get this beautiful and big house bought as I am

getting older and could not get up the stairs, so I decided to
get rid of it and had to sell it for less. So many people in
Spain lost their houses. So many houses empty, but I think
the bank made a big mistake in lending money to anybody.
People were buying and buying but obviously now they cant
do anything about it. Expats now find it difficult to live there.
Spain is an example of what could happen in the future in
In the South it is madness. For example, my own
granddaughter tried to buy properties in London but then she
found that to buy just outside London was better. It is
difficult for young people to buy their first house.
Going back to Spain I spent a lot of time in Spain and
speak Spanish fluently. There are lots of expats living in
Spain but they dont want to learn the language. I personally
would never live in any country unless I could speak the
language. You will be missing out on lots of things and if you
are taken ill and sent to hospital you are missing things.
For example, we had a problem with a neighbour who
was Chinese. The English lady who lived in Spain
complained about the Chinese person, who lived with 15/16
people in the house and made an enormous noise. At the
police station (because of the language barrier, the police did
not take any notice, so I went and spoke Spanish for them and
explained the problem), they acted immediately. They came
to my house and went on the flat roof, and jumped next door
to find out how many Chinese people lived there. The police
found so many illegal immigrants and thanked me because I
reported it. This is what I am trying to say: if you dont speak
the language in any country in which you live, it is not good
and you will have lots of problems. I would advise anyone,
wherever you buy a house you must learn the language.
I spent lots of time in Spain and I helped lots of English
people who could not speak the language.
Now renting houses in the UK is fine, but there are so
many houses, especially in the Midlands, because so many
people are trying to rent. It is not easy to rent because there