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Landlord Blues: Renting out the house from hell

I am using this blog to publish extracts from my third book on the subject of dealing with tenants from hell. The aim of the book and blog is to give people an insight into what the life of a landlord can be like and to provide tips for making landlords’ lives easier. This is done by describing real experiences of our worst-case scenarios. This should help you avoid getting into the same fixes.

Okie sticks his oar in again.
26 April 2014 @ 22:26

Once more Okie thinks he is lord and master of our rental house and sends us the following text:
Okie (10.44, 20 September):
Good morning. I would appreciate if these things can be done as a matter of urgency:
⦁     Please send in a carpenter to fit locks and keys on the lockers in the kitchen.  Jason takes everything I buy and I can’t stop him cos I am at work.
⦁    A hoofer/vacuum cleaner. I have asked for this and  Adrian has promised but hasn’t fulfilled it. The one  Jason got is old and isn’t working well.
⦁    The washing machine isn’t working. Needs to be looked into
⦁    The regulator in the fridge is not working. It hasn’t been working for over a month now, before Peter left. If this can be corrected it will be appreciated. At what date is  Jason leaving? Regards.

I was in no rush to answer, just as tenants are in no rush to ever contact us, unless it is in their interests. I replied the next day.
Me (9.40, 21 September):
Jason has been given his notice to leave by the end of October – this was the earliest date possible, legally. We have asked him to leave earlier as a favour but we can’t make him. As landlords, we cannot be responsible if one tenant steals from another. Either you report it to the police and/or keep things in your room until he’s left. As you know,  Jason broke our vacuum cleaner which cost us 110 pounds. Since you say the replacement one he provided doesn’t work well,  Adrian will bring another one up – you must keep this in your room until  Jason has vacated and you will be responsible for it. 
Insurance does not cover any of the losses we are facing because of Peter and  Jason’s behaviour in the house – we have to pay for it all out of our pockets.  Adrian will look at the washing machine –  Jason told us just days ago that it is working. In terms of the fridge, this is the first time a problem with it has been reported. 
We are faced with a catalogue of expenses related to the house and will do all essential work in order to be legally compliant but given the lack of respect shown to our house we will not be offering to do non-essential works. As I have previously said, if you feel the house doesn’t suit you we will not hold you to your notice period. We experience enough stress as it is and do not want to have any more. 
Okie (10.37, 21 September):
I actually thought Jason was giving the same notice period as Peter, and as Peter has since left one would have naturally felt  Jason was leaving as early as this month. I had sent you credible complaints since a long time about  Jason and Peter about their drunken and irresponsible behaviour and if you had listened to them he would have left and damages you have suffered wouldn’t be here in the first place. Or the heavy inconvenience and constant fear am going through to the lack of respect shown to the house hasn’t come from me, it never can because I try to be as decent as anyone would want. 
As for the legal essential work you are withholding, its a bit unfair as I am paying the price for what isn’t my making at all. And yes I can keep the vacuum cleaner in my room, I told  Adrian this weeks ago. I don’t want you to experience stress that’s why I deal and manage with things even when you don’t seem to respond at your end when I have complaints.
Okie had a very skewed idea of himself. In his eyes he was a really decent person. His rental payment record, annoying texts and abuse of the utilities told a different story. 
So he only ever paid the rent after several reminders; he wouldn't have cared if that meant that our mortgage payment bounced and he wouldn't care that he was causing us hassle. 
Also, when we gave him the new vacuum cleaner with instructions to take care of it, he used an unauthorised additional electrical heater, which he undoubtedly left on all day while he was at work, and he burnt the pipe on the cleaner; so much for it being in his room for safe-keeping. 
Jason and also Alan, our painter, also told us that every morning he put all the electric rings and oven on to heat the kitchen (because no-one would ever put any money in the gas meter but knew that we were paying for the electric).
Together with the fact that he left the lights on constantly, putting them on in the morning and then going off to work with them all left on during the day, he was probably responsible for wasting about £100 per month of the £240 he paid in rent, on electricity. He also left the kitchen absolutely filthy every time he cooked and he would constantly pester us over little things, always thinking up new ways of spending our money – a new fridge please? A new bed please? A new carpet please? 
'What a charade that man's Christianity is,' I said to Adrian. 'I'm more Christian than that selfish get' (and I don't believe in God). At one point when he didn't pay the rent he even said it was because he'd made an 'ethical investment.' Liar. It turned out he'd lost his job. He wasn't the type to give anyone anything. And by the time we were to get shot of Peter and  Jason, it would become clear that he was now our worst tenant, whilst in his own deluded mind he was the best. Strangely, he also felt he had rights over the house and over who occupied it.
And so I fired off yet another riposte against dullard Okie-kinokie, as we liked to call him.
Me (15.19, 21 September):
Okie. I will correct various points:
⦁     Peter and  Jason received the same notices for the end of October but Peter left earlier. We have to work within the law and that is the end of it. Legally,  Jason does not even have to leave then and we may have to pay for a court order to get him out. A judge will then give him longer. It could take many months to get him out. That is the law in this country.
⦁    You misread what I said about works. I said we wouldn’t do non-essential works. This is standard. Tenants could demand we do all kinds of works; that doesn’t mean we would do them. We have never fitted locks on kitchen cupboards and will never do so. 
⦁    You say you are afraid of  Jason. All I can suggest is that you find somewhere else to live as we are not in control of when he moves out and have no idea when he will actually go. What we don’t want is constant complaints about the house and you telling us that we could do things better or could have in the past. Also, can you ensure that electricity is not wasted in the house. We have to pay phenomenal bills and lights are left on constantly. 

'He's the next one for the chop,' I said to Adrian. 'I want him out.'


Like 1


marcbernard said:
26 April 2014 @ 21:52

I really cannot understand why, with all the problems which you profess to suffer, you do not sell up your rental houses and put the proceeds to better use. Obviosly there is some undisplayed advantage to you to contiue with your landlordism.

eggcup said:
26 April 2014 @ 22:36

People often make this mistake. I refer you to the couple of sentences below the heading. I don't write about the uneventful side of the business - the good tenants who pay their rent on time and keep us from having to work for anyone else - as that would be boring and serve no purpose. There are enough smug books out there which pretend it is all plain sailing.

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