The Landlords episode 27

The day started badly. I’d forgotten I had a “share accommodation” ad in today’s paper, until the phone rang at 7.20. “Randall here. When can I come round and look at the room you’ve got for rent?”
“Aaaaah, why don’t you just give me your phone number and I’ll ring you back later and make a time? I have to leave for work soon.”
“What time do you leave for work? I’m only at Wagaman and I can be there in 20 minutes.”

And he was. Mid fifties, chubby, buck teeth, grey hair and horn-rimmed glasses, Randall looked vaguely like that old British comedian Benny Hill. I half expected him to break into a rousing chorus of “Ernie, He Drove the Fastest Milk Cart in the West“. Randall said he’d just arrived in Darwin from Sydney, fallen in love with the place and was looking for work. “What sort of work do you do?” “Accounts. I’m hoping I might be able to get some casual bookkeeping work before the backpackers arrive and take all the jobs. But you don’t have to worry. I can pay the rent and expenses OK”.

Randall gave me a strangely creepy feeling. I couldn’t help wondering whether he’d fled Sydney after embezzling the Boy Scouts’ funds and molesting the Cubs or Brownies. Come to think of it, this may have possibilities. I could corner the market: “Nightcliff – room in share house – pedophile paradise – across road from high school – panoramic views of primary school at end of street.”

Then there was Enid. She rang before 8am as well, just as Randall was leaving. She sounded like she was one of the Daly River mob, in town for the wet. Enid spoke fractured English at best, and I could hear the rest of the mob shouting in the background. I told her she could come and have a look at 1pm. Wouldn’t want to get zapped under anti-discrimination. With any sort of luck she won’t turn up.

I think it’s going to be one of those days.

PS – Just got a call from Loretta, a nurse who’s looking for accommodation closer to Royal Darwin Hospital. She’s having a look at 11am. She sounds a better bet.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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David Tiley
2022 years ago

Beware Big Nurse!

Surely you don’t absolutely need the money? I have had a lot of joy out of sharing houses over the years, but the people concerned have always come from my social circle.

What if Big Nurse takes up with Randall?

Jim
Jim
2022 years ago

Ken – my sincere condolences! I rented spare rooms out at my first house when I was single for 7 years.
I’ve seriously considered writing a book on the “interesting ” characters who applied.
My personal favourite was a bloke who arrived in army camouflage fatigues,insisted on calling me formally by my surname,informed me that he was a self trained unarmed combat expert and asked about my attitude to firearms!
I was worried when I turned him down that he might see the ad again the following week and come back for retribution!

bargarz
2022 years ago

That post brings back memories of the pitfalls in sharehousing…

Politics and religion never seemed to be the big bogus issues in my experiences and I’ve lived with Socialists and Evangelists. The real ballbuster issues always revolved around who finished the milk or who ate the last Tim-Tams.

And forget the firearms policies. Ask them what their position is on tolerance for dirty dishes. A mismatch there is gonna hurt in the long run. :)

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Ken,
For a man who claims to be an ‘economic rationalist’ I am wondering why you have investment proprties whose return is less than investing in shares. It is also less liquid.

P.S.
Don’t rely on it in retirement it is a more taxing vehicle than other assets.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Randall rang at 7.20am!? He’s clearly on the run.
On the other hand, noting Homer’s advice, he’s possibly a dab hand at liquidifying assets.
Loretta sounds ominous….she doesn’t blog I hope….

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Homer,

The income return on residential rental properties in Darwin has generally significantly higher than for shares, although I agree they’re less liquid. The capital gain has been pretty good too, although a little less than shares over the last 5-7 years, and less than rental properties in Sydney or Melbourne. The advantage from my viewpoint is that (a) I understand the market; (b) I can touch and manage my own investments, unlike shares; (c) I can renovate them as I have the time and energy, thus greatly increasing the capital gain, and making the bottom line result MUCH better than shares.

For example, we bought the largest of our investment properties (a block of 5 townhouses) just on 4 years ago for just under $400,000. We’ve done a lot of renovation work, spending a bit under $100,000, and were recently offered $800,000. The gross returns on the property are about $50,000 pa. I doubt that it would have been possible to do anywhere near as well as this on shares over a similar period.

David,

I don’t really need the money as such, although the extent of negative gearing losses on the properties determines the amount of ongoing renovations we can afford to fund. We want to build another 3 new units at the Progress Drive property in the next couple of years, and that will require us to maintain a high rental yield. Hence housemates.

It’s also a lifestyle decision, or at least it was when I separated. I figured that it would be better to surround myself with people and live in a house rather than by myself in one of the units, in case I jumped over-hastily into an ill-advised romantic relationship out of sheer loneliness. As it’s turned out I’m in another relationship anyway (although it’s anything but ill-advised – touch wood), so the lifestyle necessity no longer exists. Our current plans are that I will finish renovating the house over the next 6 months, then we’ll sell that property and I’ll move to one of the townhouses to manage construction of the 3 new units.

You’re quite right that I’ve found the joys of share houses are rapidly waning:- it’s fine when you’re in your twenties, but I’m quite a bit more set in my ways now, less tolerant, and more in need of private space than I was then. Still, I should be able to put up with it reasonably happily for another 6 months or so. Anyway, with a bit of luck it’ll continue to provide the raw material for blog posts.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

Ken: You should try placing your ad in Japanese. Works for me.

Gianna
2022 years ago

with a bit of luck it’ll continue to provide the raw material for blog posts
ah, yes please, Ken…

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Ken,
Our hunger is insatiable. You have no idea how powerful this meme is. Particularly as I contemplate buying a wee hoosie for investment reasons in a cheap country town where the rental return is alright… now Homer has me spooked. But I have personal reasons too – housing a stepdaughter and her daughter while she is at Uni.

Graham
2022 years ago

Mumbles to self… should’ve studied harder and tried to get into law…

Anyway, the prices here in this country town started going ape about 2002, after lagging behind as country towns seem to do. I was even contemplating buying something around 2001, but not now… When I’ve got a bit saved up and have seen off the temptation to go O/S for a bit.

Arrgh! I’ve caught Sydney Dinner Party Disease!

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Congratulations Ken if what you say is correct however I have yet to see any research showing investment residential property outperforming equities over time.

It may well be that Darwin rents are far higher than elswhere. If that is the case then a good question to ask why does this only happen in Darwin?

Tiu Fu Fong
Tiu Fu Fong
2022 years ago

I pine for my share housing days and the soft gurgle-gurgle of the night time bong on the couch. My wife-to-be has Policies that prohibit that sort of thing.

Kay
Kay
2022 years ago

Troppo Armadillo, particularly your less serious posts like this one has made my night. I do wonder who you chose in the end.

Jessica
Jessica
2022 years ago

i USED TO GO TO wAGAMAN pRIMARY SCHOOL COULD YOU PLEASE SEND ME THERE EMAIL ADDRESS i NEED TO URGENTLY GET IN CONTACT THANK YOU PLEASE WRITE BACK PLEASE.