Peter Lewis, vice-president of the Auckland Property Investors Association, is a full-time landlord. He has 12 properties clustered in South Auckland and Pukekohe. He shares his daily rounds

Being a landlord is like being at war:

90 per cent enjoyable and 10 per cent sheer slog. I've been doing it since 1992 and seen my fair share of ups and downs, and every form of human life.

Today is a typical one for me. It starts around 9 and finishes at 5.30.

I will drive 145km, and do things like clean leaves from blocked gutters, spray weeds, repair leaky taps, check for meth, dog droppings and other contraband, and most importantly, that tenants are paying their money on time.

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I decided to get into property because I didn't want get too used to a life of tea bags and gingernuts on the pension. But landlords get a bad rap.

There's a perception that we're like Monopoly men in top hats, driving around in a Rolls Royces. I have an old Toyota station wagon because I can fit all my tools in it and hitch up the trailer to take tenants' rubbish to the dump.

I'm not flashy but if I want to go on holidays, I can.

When I bought out in South Auckland everyone laughed at me. They said you're going to need a flak jacket and a machine gun, but it couldn't be further from the truth.

I've never been physically threatened. Sure, I've had arguments but I keep it on a pleasant level.

I do know a landlord who deliberately provokes his tenants. His aim is to claim that he has been attacked. He can then go for immediate eviction and apply to keep the bond. That's not how I do business.

I like this area because it has good amenities like a bus stop, a primary school, a high school. Within a week of tenants moving out, I can get another one.

Some of my tenants have just $5 left at the end of the week after their rent, their power, their food... they live hand to mouth. If something comes out of left field, then they're stuffed. Rather than bury their heads in the sand, I ask them to talk to me. Often that means paying off the rent over time, but not ignoring it.

Most of my properties are three bedrooms which I bought through a combination of borrowing and savings. The first one cost $120,000. Then I looked in South Auckland.

I decided to get into property because I didn't want get too used to a life of tea bags and gingernuts on the pension.

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That was 11 years ago.

Randwick Park cost just shy of $200,000. Then I acquired another three on the same driveway, the smallest one ironically being the most expensive as prices had risen by then.

The Manurewa properties I bought in bulk for $600,000 and with a little bit of a tidy up, they're now valued at more than $1 million.

People say you can't buy a house for under a million. That's rubbish.

Ok, there may be holes in the wall but nothing a bit of paint and paper, and a handyman can't fix or improve. Like turning a three bedroom place into four can add an extra $100 a week.

You need to look at how you can improve what you've got to get the cash flow.

For five or six years after I bought the first Manurewa property, prices were stagnant but in the past few years, explosive - up about 88 per cent.

Initially, the rent didn't cover the mortgage as interest rates were about 10 per cent. Every month I had to put money in which really hurt. I now know better than to buy stuff that will cost me money.

Peter Lewis is an active landlord who regularly spray weeds and checks for meth, among other things.
Peter Lewis is an active landlord who regularly spray weeds and checks for meth, among other things.

I worked out that I needed 10 houses to give me a certain lifestyle. Average rental on my properties is around $400 and out of that comes rates, maintenance, insurances and lawn mowing.

I do all my own tenant vetting by searches databases that might turn up history of drug use, bankruptcy or property damage.

Insurance companies are always looking for loopholes.

They'll ask for documentation on tenant selection like checking that your tenant wasn't a well-known drug dealer.

One of the reasons I haven't bought outside Auckland is that I like to drive by each property at least every couple of weeks. You can learn quite a lot by doing this.

If all the curtains are drawn throughout the day, then it's a bad sign. If there are dogs and all sorts of rubbish. There are always telltale signs.

One of the reasons I haven't bought outside Auckland is that I like to drive by each property at least every couple of weeks. You can learn quite a lot by doing this.

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I had one tenant who said they had acquired a small puppy. It turned out to be a full-sized bull mastiff with a highly carnivorous appetite.

We ended up at the Tenancy Tribunal. She got slapped on the hand. The dog went then she started complaining that the daisies kept coming back after the guy had mowed the lawns. I kept saying to her 'mowing the lawn doesn't get rid of the daisies'. You get some weird ones.

On the back property there's hundreds of used tyres. The tenant thought he'd make a quick buck by shipping them to the islands for reuse. It obviously wasn't as lucrative as he thought. I've asked him to get rid of them a few times. I'll leave that battle for another day.

The strangest tenancy was with a Fijian family.

They paid the first two weeks' rent then nothing. I text them. No response so rang them. I asked them where they were and they told me they were in Suva. They said 'your house is haunted. We can't live there'. The meal was still on the table. The frying pan still on the stove. Don't know what the full story was but I never met anyone wearing a white sheet there.

You've got to be patient. Work with them not against them. There's no point being obnoxious to each other. It's like Labour needs National. Without the other side you're in trouble.