How to Future-Proof your HMO

Future-Proofing your HMO is all about systems and processes that allow you to maximise your profits and minimize your costs while still providing excellent service and value to your customers – your tenants.

There are the three main parts of this process which are:

  • Maintaining Customers
  • Management of the HMO
  • Maintenance of the HMO

Maintaining Customers

Communicate with tenants regularly.  Simple steps like a monthly group email (try lets your tenants know that you care about the quality of their experience in the property. It’s a great, easy-to-use automatic email system that allows you to schedule emails in advance. You can gently cover topics that might become issues or risks to the overall smooth-running of the house by introducing the topic and then saying something about it in the main body of the email. We have found this reduces rather than raises queries, as tenants then understand procedures and policies more clearly and also what kind of behaviour is expected of them!

Using a telephone answering service is invaluable as it allows all calls to be answered and dealt with professionally while freeing up your time to attend to other aspects of the business. I have found that tenants like having ONE number to call and don’t cope well if you give them a variety of different numbers to call depending on the severity of the issue.

Management of the HMO

Keys can become a major headache for a landlord (or agent) if you don’t have a clear system for managing and tracking them. If you don’t want to go to the expense of installing a masterkey system (although I would heartily recommend it particularly if you wish to scale up your business), you need to develop a system using a spreadsheet and large cabinet! Code each keyring so that you  know which door the key opens in each property, always have at least one copy made and track them as they leave and enter your office!

Compile a list of tradesmen and maintenance people who you can work with to undertake the routine and emergency work that will no doubt be required from time to time, no matter how well you have Finished It! Always have a preferred supplier and a back-up for the times when your original tradesperson isn’t available. You may wish to set up a retainer or a regular payment to maintain the flow of availability. There are companies that offer landlord emergency cover for a small monthly charge and ensure an immediate emergency response to any problems in the property.

Maximising your profits

Ensure you are collecting rents on time and regularly checking them. Even a few days of late payments per month will make all the difference to your cash flow.

Keep a sharp eye on your outgoings – and take time to identify how you can reduce your bills on a regular basis. Reducing bills, even by 5-10% per annum will compound your cash flow and profits. If bills are rising fast you need to investigate and identify why. Keep an eye on new technological developments in the HMO industry. Whether it is a new piece of software that can help notify you of late rent payments, or an app that can control your heating remotely –  use technology to systemise your business, thus saving you time and money.

And finally, enjoy your investment! You have worked seriously hard to create a property that will serve you now and for years to come, so look after it and it will look after you!



How do you REALLY feel about setting goals?

I have to say I have to admit that I am very MEH about goal setting. I know I shouldn’t say it, and I know I need to do it – I just feel very MEH about it. (Is that a proper word? I think you get the gist even if it’s not in the dictionary yet).

I know it is important and that’s why I have an accountability buddy who I talk to each week about my goals. We discuss which ones we met and completed, which ones are in progress and which ones have stalled. It is very useful and gives me a massive kick up the bum each week!

However, I believe that PROCESS is more valuable than PRODUCT because I find that following the process actually achieves far more long term. This is because when we focus on doing the RIGHT things over and over again, it creates habits, patterns and thinking that translates into language, action and behaviour.

And ultimately that leads to you being in the right place at the right time in the most unpredictable way!

Often I have met people with money, or deals, or knowledge that I needed. Yet I wasn’t actively looking for them. I didn’t have it expressly identified on my goal sheet as ‘MEET SOMEONE RICH’. Instead my goals were : ‘ATTEND ONE PROPERTY NETWORKING EVENT’ PER MONTH’ and ‘SEND OUT REGULAR EMAILS TO MY DATABASE’. The goals were actions and processes that, when done regularly will create more momentum and growth than simply having goals that I can tick off a sheet.

So goals, in my mind, need to be more about your habits and activity than your outcomes.

With that in mind, you might find the following list of questions about goal setting very useful. So, whatever your view and experience of setting goals – remember, make them meaningful and process oriented. That way, you will find that magically, you will create a life of your dreams.


1. Which goal(s) do I think about the most?

2. Which goal(s) would give me the most energy if I could commit to it now?

3. What accomplishments would make me feel the most proud of myself?

4. Which accomplishments can I take with me forever, and/or which accomplishments would seem the most permanent to me? Is this important to me?

5. In ten years from now, how important will the goal be to me?

6. Which goals are in line with my true values?

7. Which goals are fully within my control, and not too dependent on other people or circumstances?

8. Is this goal an external ‘should’ or an internal desire?

9. What do I have a sense of urgency to get on with right away?

10. If I could take action in spite of my fear, what might I want for myself right now?

11. Which goals give me a heavy or lethargic sensation when I think about them, and which goals give me a positive “rush” of endorphins when I think of them?

12. Which goals and their required efforts best fit into the “flow” or pace of my life? Which fit best within my current life context and/or circumstances?

To your growth!


Think Bike!

When you’re planning your next HMO, don’t forget bikes! Many HMO tenants will use a bike as their main form of transport – so you must consider where they can be left safely and securely.

The hallway of the house is not a suitable location for a bike! Not only does it create a safety hazard it is against fire regulations. In some areas, and where you need planning permission there is a requirement for cycle racks to be installed.

So consider access to the rear of the property for tenants to be able to bring bikes in, and also to move bins in and out. Think once, think twice, think BIKE!

Working full time and can’t make time to make money?

When I met Keith a couple of years ago he was working in the financial services industry. He didn’t really think that he could replace his high income with investment income. So he studied it, learned about it and tested his ideas – on me! He had worked hard all his life to get to where he was – and he had a lovely lifestyle. The problem was he had no time. His job was all-consuming and left him with little energy or passion to do much else. We met and spoke and I wondered if we’d ever see each other again.

A few months later I met Keith at a McDonald’s in Crewe, near where I live, and he peppered me with questions about what was possible and how property could become a vehicle to replace his full-time income. I explained how I had done it for myself and my husband with a handful of HMOs. Keith was hooked. But I didn’t hear from him again for over 11 months.

Almost a year later to the date, Keith decided that enough was enough. He wasn’t getting any younger, and had met the love of his life. It was time and the time was NOW. He didn’t want to waste a second more waiting to get out of the rat race. So Keith joined my mentoring programme, and within a few short months he had not just one but THREE fantastic HMOs on the table. A few weeks later, and another deal was sealed. After the refurbs, all four will be making him at least £1000 cashflow per month (a couple of them even more). The amazing thing about Keith is not that he has created 4 high cashflowing HMOs in a year, nor that he has a great (love-interest) reason to do this. No, the amazing thing is that Keith has done this whilst working full-time, using none of his own money, and investing 150 miles from where he lives!!

THAT is amazing.

And it’s happened because he followed a simple system. He made a decision, he took the leap and now Keith’s life is looking very different to the one he had before. He now has a plan, has a clear direction, has clear goals and is clearly a very different person to the one he was before. For many people, just four HMOs would be enough to give up their job. Keith will need a few more! But on his current course, Keith will be able to give up his job next year. What an incredible result.

He puts his success down to a few key things – “Meeting with Wendy was amazing because she not only has the knowledge but the systems. She mentored me to keep me on track and accountable. She helped me to overcome my limiting beliefs and she showed me exactly what to do and when. Without her none of this would have been possible”. But I don’t take the credit as it was Keith that took the action.

So if you want to get out of your job and have no time, and no money – what’s holding you back? I wonder whether it’s time to get out of your own way and get some expert help in!

That is, if you want to accelerate your growth and start to make serious, life-changing income from property.  Maybe you already have a few properties but want to get to the next level of income? Perhaps you have some income from property but are unsure how to scale and systemise effectively? You might have thought about mentoring as a highly effective way to get you to the next level of success but not sure what is involved and how it works.

If so, I’d like to invite you to an exclusive event that I’m holding on 7th September 2018. It is a Magical Mentoring Taster Day, which will allow you to experience what having a personal mentor is like and how being on a mentoring programme with me really works.  The day will give you a full flavour of how much growth and expansion is possible when you have someone to whom you are accountable and who helps drive your growth.

This is a personalised, individualised day which will enable you to break through to the next level on your property journey. You will learn

  • how to supercharge your property business to scale your income long-term
  • how to use other people’s skills most effectively, and who you need to be working with
  • when to give up the day job and go full-time in property (if you haven’t already)
  • what tools and systems the professionals use to go faster and bigger
  • what is holding you back from achieving your goals
  • how to find better and more lucrative deals
  • what to do when you run out of your own money

The day will start at 09.30am and finish at 5pm. We will be holding the day at a beautiful location in South Cheshire, at an exclusive hotel, where a delicious lunch, morning coffee with pastries and afternoon tea with cakes will be provided. You will be with other like-minded individuals who also want to grow their business and are ready to go to the next level. The agenda will include a hot-seating session, in a mutually supportive and fully confidential environment to discuss your individual business and current challenges,  and will include a 30 minute follow-up call with Wendy post-event to finalise the personalised plan of attack you will develop throughout the day to take home with you. You will learn how to spot where your black-holes are (energy drains) and where your bright stars shine (energy boosters), and also what stage your property business is at and how best you can accelerate your growth.

This is a special and unique day that is a one-off and which I have no further plans to run at this time. There are only 10 places available to make it a fully personal experience, and I know that once the word gets out, it’s likely that places will go fast.

Date: Friday 7th September 2018
Price: £175 plus vat
Venue: Rookery Hall Hotel, Nantwich, Cheshire CW5 6DQ
Time: 9.30am – 5pm

BONUS: You’ll get a 30 minute follow-up call with Wendy to finalise the powerful personalised plan of attack you will develop throughout the day.

Rookery Hall is a luxury hotel in South Cheshire where you’ll be served morning coffee with pastries, then a delicious lunch, followed by afternoon tea with cakes. You will be with other like-minded individuals who also want to grow their business and are ready to go to the next level.

Business or life partners can come half price. Please click on the link to reserve and pay for your place on this exclusive day.

52 Week Video Series – Week 5 – The Four Ps!

Do you REALLY know how to make customers return to you time and again? What are the four Ps that make them use YOUR services/ and business more than anyone else’s?




I look forward to hearing how you get on increasing your business by using these four Ps!

Have you seen the light?

Have you seen the light yet?
I could make a clever comment about how you can get great returns on HMOs compared to single buy to lets and how I think they are the best thing since sliced bread … and you wouldn’t be surprised or shocked would you?


You KNOW how I love the fact that there are many types of HMO, there are many reasons to invest in HMOs and there are many investors who have HMOs as just one of the many strategies they use.

But whether or not you have seen ‘the light’ about investing – have you seen the light?

That is to say, how you can use lighting effectively in your HMOs to make them safe, comfortable, welcome and just a little bit different. Here are some ideas that you could copy and which will help you save time and money…
1) Choose emergency lighting in the hallway that is low energy and has a PIR function so that the lights never need to be switched on or off. We have found that this keeps the hallway lit when needed and saves loads of electricity.
2) Fit the glitziest and most reflective pendant lampshades in bedrooms when you don’t want to install downlighters. These bring instant bling and extra reflective qualities to shine the light round the room.
3) Bedside lights always brighten a room – Dunelm Mill, Asda and The Range do a good assortment.
4) Where you do use downlighters (kitchens or dining rooms) make sure you fit warm, low energy GU10s, or you’ll be costing the earth when it comes to power.


I hope this helps you ‘see the light’ and makes your HMOs stand out as being the lightest, warmest and most delightful place for a person to call home!

Protect the downside

In property investing, as in life, it is always wise to consider the downside of any action you might be thinking of taking. You might decide to get married for example! While there are a lot of great aspects of marriage such as companionship, support, sharing life’s experiences with someone you love, fun and friendship to name but a few, there are downsides too. Any of us who have been married for more than a few months will know the need for compromise, swallowing your pride from time to time, say sorry on a fairly regular basis, and accept the habits (bad and good) of your partner with little hope of changing them fast.

In circumstances where your relationship is under great stress and where communication has broken down irrevocably , there is always a way out, but it is painful and costly.  Looking back on my divorce from my first husband, there were definitely things I could have done differently to ease the pain and heartache of our inevitable separation.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing though, isn’t it! I have tried to take some lessons from that situation and applied them to my strategy for investing. Here are some of my thoughts about protecting yourself from the downside. What are the downsides to property investment?

1) Having too many void periods

2) Not getting tenants of the right type

3) Getting low yields and therefore low cash flow

4) Not getting your money out of the property after you have developed it

5) Too many ongoing costs hitting your profits

6) Property values going down

7) Your business taking too much time … and many more!

So how can you protect the downside? Here are my suggestions …

1) Don’t over-gear.

2) Don’t under-gear. Yes these two points may seem to contradict each other, but you need to keep some liquidity in your back-pocket for when times are hard. You can’t achieve that if all your capital is tied up. Nevertheless if you have a huge mortgage, then when times are tough, this will be the biggest stress on your finances.

3) Ensure you save regularly into another account and keep some of this as cash to cover voids, maintenance and other spending

4) Manage your advertising, marketing and sales to ensure a good continuation of tenants

5) Re-evaluate your portfolio annually to see if you have any dud properties that you need to sell off or re-configure

6) Raise your rents!

7) Plan to re-finance when a number of factors have been met

8) Manage your maintenance with precision – don’t let bad workmanship, poor quotes, picky tenants or over-keen DIY men take your profits!

9) Break down your systems into chunks so that you can outsource, recruit help, and prioritise your time more efficiently.

10) Regularly review your finances with an accountant to see where your black holes are.

Finally – TAKE ACTION. Don’t procrastinate or delay. The longer you leave it the worse it will get and the longer it will take you to come back after a void, a costly maintenance job or a bad tenant.











WHY do you do what you do – NO I mean REALLY!

Have you ever had a burning question that rolls around your mind, often popping up least when you expect it, and waiting like a crouched cat to pounce and devour the answer? I have. It’s a question that has been troubling me all year and is simply this – “WHY do I do what I do”? Is it coincidence that I fell into this property lark? Or is there a greater design at work here? Is there something unique and ‘me-like’ that I bring to the industry which makes it fit like a glove with my preferences and lifestyle? Or is it just that as an entrepreneur I wasn’t entrepreneurial enough, failing to innovate, create or design a inventive enough solution to another great worldly problem, which meant that I had to tread a well-worn path instead? So property investing was an easy enough strategy to follow and with the right mindset and skillset enabled me to make enough money to live on and have a great lifestyle. Is that the REAL WHY though? And actually does it matter?

My background is in early years – a passion I still hold close to my heart, believing as I do in the innate value of children and the opportunity for learning and growing that is presented to us all in their very existence. However, I am no longer making my presence felt in that domain. Despite the passion and the intrinsic purpose which I feel for the subject. I had worked in the domain of education for many years and as a sideline invested in property.

My life pivoted two years ago, when, my DH and I had a choice – whether to accelerate our property portfolio or to continue in our (well paid but very mundane and quite stressful) jobs. There was no debate. What would you do? Turning right rather than left at that T-junction enabled us to leave our jobs (and the rat race), spend time with our growing sons, increase our giving and participating, and still expand our portfolio. Looking back I can see that the last two years have been an amazing journey, allowing me to express my greatest value – FREEDOM! It has also plunged me into the most incredible world of mentoring which I LOVE with a passion!

Admittedly I haven’t been as consistently passionate about property. I can’t deny that the extra cashflow and the pride of a growing business feels good. But when I pare away my ego and stare at myself hard and long (like a Paddington hard stare) I realise that even that is actually not enough to persist with it. In fact after a while I find it becomes a little boring and empty just pushing for more money, when there’s no clear purpose driving me forward.

So I’ve started to examine my motives more transparently and challenge myself to find the truth behind why I do what I do and whether it constitutes enough significance to continue. Another T-junction you might assume. I have wondered that myself. But then I BELIEVE that this is the right place for me, the right industry for me, the right path for me. So that wasn’t meant to be a veiled intention to stop investing in property. In fact I don’t think I could stop now! I love finding great deals, helping people out of sticky situations, making money for investors, helping people find great places to live, looking after our tenants and creating a slick and profitable venture.

Oh – HOLD ON! I think I’ve stumbled across the answer to my question.

So why am I still struggling with WHY? Well because I have lost touch with those very things that rev me up and get me going in the morning! I actually do love viewing dirty, smelly, horrible properties but which offer SO much potential! I LOVE meeting investors and creating a win-win which meets all our needs and desires! I love having a team of people who I work with and who are specialists in their own right. There’s much in fact that I DO love but which now other people do for me. Maybe that’s the reason I’ve lost the WHY.

You may have experienced the same thing! You started something with a clear WHY but it has become lost under layers of activity which don’t nourish your inner being – your vision – your real WHY. As our business has grown, I have become involved in so many things which are not really ‘ME’. That’s why I find mentoring to be so thrilling. The relationship interplay which enables another person to learn and grow and which is so akin to my early years background and so ‘ME’! Mentoring is aligned with my vision, passion and purpose explicitly and implicitly. In property I seem to have lost tough with that connection and perhaps that is causing this internal questioning. Maybe then, my next steps on this thrilling yet challenging journey, need to be about re-visiting WHAT I love to do in property, for in so doing, I wonder whether the muddy puddle of my mind will be stilled enough to allow my WHY to appear.


Does the quality of your rooms really matter?

You’ve seen pictures of them on Spareroom or RightMove, the incredible low watermark of rooms which agents and landlords think will attract the right kind of tenant. You know the kind I mean – a scruffy looking blue checked divan plonked in the middle of the room complete with mattress that’s either had a two ton weight  fall on it from a great height, or a fat slob use it as a permanent reclining sofa from which to gorge on Monster Munch and Pot Noodle, whilst simultaneously watching trash TV. Furniture which even the local recycling centre would reject due to it being a health hazard, and vertical blinds with an obligatory slat missing or loose, left to trail over the windowsill and onto the floor. Perhaps a stain or two in the middle of the carpet (one shaped very much like the base of an iron), and the faint shadow of a damp patch lower down in the corner of the room (don’t get too close for a sniff or you might discover what caused the damp).

As Loyd Grossman’s famously used to say ‘WHO lives in a room like this’? Well no-one actually cos he moved out to find somewhere better. Where the landlord could be bothered to undertake some basic maintenance and where he treated his tenants with some respect. And in turn the tenants treated the house with some respect.

As landlords and investors the standard that we maintain in our properties, that we are prepared to set and live by, will shape the existence of those we rent to. I am not making excuses for the fat slobs who cannot be bothered to get a job and live on tax-payer benefits. They have to live somewhere too. But the vast majority of tenants are not like that. They are decent, hardworking, perhaps a bit uneducated and ignorant, but actually like you and me, in wanting a safe, pleasant and cared-for place to call home.

But YOU are the one who sets the standards. You are the one who creates the rooms, the spaces, the places for people to live in. So it is your responsibility to set the tone, the rules, the parameters. Generally speaking, good rooms get good tenants and higher rents and less hassle. But you have to be prepared to invest well to start with, to set up systems for maintenance, repair and renewal, or to find an agent who will do this on your behalf. For without realising it, you are having an impact (albeit small) on someone else’s life. It means being responsible, aware and proactive. It doesn’t however have to mean a lot of expense.

Our mantra is ‘low cost or no-cost solutions have to be found’ before anything else is sought. The most expensive part of maintenance and repair is people power, for which you have to budget. But if you are to have rooms that will let out quickly, retain tenants for long periods, and maintain the fabric of the building, then yes the quality of your rooms DOES really matter.

Which room would you prefer? 

Which areas make the best returns for HMOs?

Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are becoming more and more popular as places to live and also as a means of a high yielding investment for savvy property investors. If you’ve just begun your journey into property or already have a couple of buy to lets you may be wondering how to get started in HMOs. There are some pitfalls for the unwary as HMOs are a more advanced strategy than simply buying a house and letting it to five people. A friend of mine jumped straight into buying her first HMO on the advice of a contact, only to find that she couldn’t let out the rooms except at a much lower rate than her contact had indicated. She was not making much more money than she would have if the property were let to a family, and causing her much more stress. What was the reason for her mistake? She didn’t do her due diligence enough on the property. If she had she would’ve realised that the property wasn’t in the right location. It didn’t meet the characteristics of what I’ve called the ‘MICRO’ location – the identified most useful and popular features than tenants want in an HMO.

What are the ideal Micro location characteristics?

  • Near to town centre – no more than a 15 minute walk
  • A local, corner shop-type facilities within 1 -2 streets away OR large supermarket nearby
  • Some entertainment facilities (cinema, bowling, theatre) within a couple of miles
  • Health centres and/or GP facilities within 2 miles and a large hospital within 15 miles.
  • Public transport facilities such as bus routes or trams or trains within a few streets (15-20 min walk maximum)
  • AVOID double yellow lines outside a property if you can. Not only will this inhibit the tenants to park nearby to the property if they need to, it also indicates a busy road which may deter them.

Don’t be put off if you can’t tick off all these indicators in your chosen location, but be aware that tenants need access to practical services and may not always have a car, so local services are much more important to them.

Once my friend realised her mistake, she understood why her rents were not what she was hoping for. The experience has not completely put her off though, as in the end it attracted a group of Polish workers who have kept the property beautifully and been excellent tenants. Now, armed with better knowledge, she knows how to find the location for her next investment. She has the tools and guidance she needs to find the right property in the right place. By understanding what tenants are looking for she will be much better prepared for her second HMO, and therefore better able to make money from this kind of investment.