Castle-inhabiting entrepreneur and 300-property landlord Emma Manners, the Duchess of Rutland, gives away some of her portfolio management secrets.

While many landlords are relying on a mortgage holiday to keep afloat as their tenants struggle financially, one of the country’s high-profile property owners has told a national newspaper that all of her 300 tenants have paid up on time during the crisis.

The Duchess of Rutland, Emma Manners (pictured), runs her property empire from Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, renting out houses and cottages in towns and villages around the estate, as well as in neighbouring Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.

Her stately pile has appeared in TV series including The Crown and its owner recently promoted her own branded gin.

Manners has told The Daily Telegraph that her lack of money worries is due to extremely loyal tenants – some of whom have been renting from her family for 50 or 60 years.

While the noblewoman had worried that Covid-19 might impact their finances, she’s yet to experience a single late payment compared to a 10-20% rates in the wider market.

Vetting procedures

Her comprehensive vetting procedure, conducting interviews herself rather than relying on others to choose tenants on her behalf, is another positive says Manners.

“I interview all the tenants and find out where they’re from and about their lives. We try to make a community, such as inviting them to harvest festival and carol services every year. We’re an extended family.”

Keeping existing tenants happy has also helped her avoid costly void periods without a rental income. 

She says: “When you have a portfolio of properties it’s always about the down time between tenants, so we always look for people who want to be here for the long term and want to settle. I don’t like the churn, that’s my key rule.”

That churn can be reduced by continued investment in properties, and not raising prices to the point stable tenants choose to look elsewhere, she helpfully advises.

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