What International Women's Day means to landlords
Some recent research conducted by YouGov for the National Landlords Association (NLA) found that 49 per cent of landlords were female and 51 per cent were male – contrasting with typical perceptions of the sector.
As a comparison, last year only around 13 per cent of FCA-approved individuals in trading firms were women. A figure that rose, slightly, to 16 per cent in investment management. The best was approximately 19 per cent in general insurance and 18 per cent in retail banking.
So, to mark International Women’s Day we contacted some of our regional reps to hear about their experiences as female landlords in the PRS. These are their stories.
NLA's Female Reps
I think that female landlords in the PRS are treated fairly by our male counterparts, as we are all striving for the same goal.
I come from a financial services background where women still struggle for recognition and pay equality, so it was no surprise that potential tenants visiting the office initially thought I was "the tea girl" or administrator and wanted to see the male Landlord.
I manage my own letting agency for the running of 29 properties and use local tradesmen to undertake repairs and refurbishment. When I go on site, the word goes out: “Boss Lady is here, so look busy!" However, if any tradesmen are on site on Friday, I always buy fish and chips for them and I never have problems with getting them to help in an emergency.
The local builders' merchants were a little surprised to hear the clicking of stilettos on their concrete flooring but now it’s their signal to not swear quite as much. So, maybe feminine guile wins after all?
While the PRS is not inherently prejudiced towards female landlords, there’s a lack of understanding that women have the business acumen and capability to be a landlord. This is a common theme across any industry about a women's ability.
I think a lot of people presume female landlords always make sure properties look pretty and shy away from tough decisions. What they don't understand is that while we are compassionate, we are still hard-headed business women.
Women just have to keep showing the world that we are hardworking and professional in our chosen vocation, whilst running a home, bringing up children, and now more increasingly caring for parents.
I am not convinced there is inequality in the PRS but ensuring that all landlords, as well as agents, have professional qualifications would ensure it was a level playing field. My experience is that it is one’s professionalism that is the deciding factor. In fact, running a property business is well suited to anyone who wants day to day flexibility with work/life balance and a varied routine.
For me, there’s no particular advantages or disadvantage to being a female landlord. In our industry a landlord must have a wide variety of skills. These will range from a good head for business, to the ability to communicate, not only with likeminded professionals, ranging from banks to tradesmen, but above all with your customers - your tenants. As long as a landlord does not lose sight of their investment being someone’s home, then your gender should not make a difference.
A potential situation that springs to mind where men and women could have different experiences is regarding viewings. A woman conducting these on her own must think of her own safety and take suitable precautions, not least do not do viewings on your own. But this caution should equally apply to men.
It’s great that nearly half of all landlords are women because, ultimately, it’s positive role models and experiences of tenants that will play a major part in challenging gender inequality in the sector.
I think I benefit from being a good and professional landlord. I believe that the gender of the landlord is probably not a major factor for tenants, what they want is to be treated respectfully, fairly and efficiently. That’s how I run my business. Although, my practical skills have certainly raised a few eyebrows!
I don’t believe I have experienced different treatment from my tenants. I guess I’m aware that some tenants may think that a woman landlord might be an ‘easier touch’ but they’re wrong! Whilst I put a lot of time and effort into building rapport with tenants using my interpersonal skills, that doesn’t mean they can pull the wool over my eyes.
I have of course had to counter certain stereotypes during my career. Some of the most common ones are that we’re all blonde and wear high heels (based on people’s experience of agents); that we must have inherited the property rather than purchased with it with our own hard-earned money; that there must be a man behind us making all the decisions; that we’ll always fall for a sob story.
I believe that as attitudes towards women in business and in general become more enlightened, this will have a positive impact on all women, irrespective of what they do to make a living.
I don’t feel there are any benefits in being a female landlord, as we carry out the same duties and abide by the same rules and regulations as male landlords. In discussion with my male colleagues, our experiences with tenants are the same. Likewise, when it comes dealing with government offices, local authority, mortgage lenders etc I feel we are all treated equally.
For me the difference arises when dealing with tradesmen, builders’ merchants, retailers etc. It’s at this point I feel gender discrimination seems to creep in, which may be entirely unintended on their part. Recently I attended a trade show with my husband where the male representative responded directly to my husband when I asked the question! As I’m the one who tends to deal with purchasing goods this could be a costly mistake for some suppliers.
Increasingly I find when dealing with tenants that are a male/female couple, the female partner often takes the lead dealing with the application, check-in and any issues that may arise during their tenancy. I wonder if this would be different if I were a male landlord?
Where a recent YouGov survey found 49% of landlords are women, it would be nice to see this reflected at all levels, with more representation within all sectors as I go about my day to day landlord business.
Being a female landlord is definitely a job you can work around kids. Issues such as getting a buy-to-let mortgage can be influenced by gender if for example, you are the one looking after children at home and not the main wage earner. I have sat in many construction courses and meetings and been the only female. Sometimes, others do not believe your knowledge of construction is a strong as if you are male. I have had contractors asking to speak to my husband before they tell me the quote for work! They don’t get the work!
Construction colleges are often not set up for females. In one, the only female toilet to use was in the mail reception area. It’s a shame as they could significantly increase numbers by appealing to women. Working as a landlord its very useful if you can replace a sink or paint walls.
I think the stereotype of female landlords is that they will be more caring. They are seen as less likely to pursue rogue tenants and therefore you can be a target. I think networking and building a strong knowledge base can override this to some extent.
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