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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.

Tempers flaring.
29 April 2014 @ 16:17

The same day that I was participating in the spat with Okie, I was involved in a text correspondence with  Jason, who was still showing no signs of leaving:
Me to Jason (14.43, 21st September):
Adrian went to the house today and it was a complete shambles with the kitchen dirty (despite  Adrian and I cleaning it up last week – which is a cheek, because it is not our dirt) and the bathrooms filthy.  It was completely bizarre of you to say it looked better than when you moved in. Nothing could be further from the truth. And you still refuse to pay the rent or get out. You are causing us so much trouble but you do not care. If you cared you’d stop talking and feeling sorry for yourself and your feelings and you’d get out. Okie is at his wits’ end and not happy as you deludedly claim. We also want your Deposit Protection Service repayment code. This is one thing you can do which won’t cost you anything; we can then at least use the bond towards some of the phenomenal costs we are incurring having taken you on as a tenant. As usual, when  Adrian got to the house mid-day, all the lights were on and we have to pay for all of this, whilst being really careful not to waste electricity in our own house. Get us that repayment code please.
Jason (14.57, 21 September):
The housing will not get me a place till my eviction notice is up so i am trying. As for the lights i am not the only one living here okinawa dont switch the lights of after him at enytime. and if i had helth and safety around that house they would have a field day with the damp etc. As soon as the date is up i will be out but before hand i cannot do enything about it.
 Jason (15.05):
I dont think your being professional txting me like this eather saying im feeling sorry for my self etc.
Obviously, it was the usual ‘counter-claim’ stuff. How the house could be damp was beyond me, when they kept the heating on full, day and night. If there was any black mould anywhere it would only because of lack of ventilation (and I hadn’t seen any anywhere but never ventured into  Jason’s room, as when he was in, he was always supine on the bed and it looked like a tornado had hit, and there was also the possibility that I might find him 'bottomless').  
'The cheek of some people,' I fumed to Adrian. 'They give the house a hammering, wreck doors, walls, windows, the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine and they then blame us! He's the eternal bloody victim.' 
We were used to having a bit of muck flung at us by tenants whose days were numbered.
And while I was going back and fore with these texts, it turned out  Adrian was having a row, too. He had popped into one of our student houses and two of the tenants had pounced on him. 'Nick and Sian' – were now taking it in turns to rant at him. Nick –  whom Adrian had recently waited an hour for at the house only to then be told he would be yet another hour late – didn’t like the look of the energy bills they’d just received. Adrian pointed out that it was a tactic of the energy companies to send a high estimated bill. 
‘Well, I reckon someone’s been staying here over the summer, because the house is really dirty as well.’ 
‘Well, if it is, it’s been done by your fellow housemate, Josh, who stayed for a bit over the summer,’ Adrian replied. 
The guy had asked if he could stay overnight, but  Adrian suspected he had stayed a lot longer; he wouldn't have wanted to tell us as the deal with the students is that they pay half-rent over the summer, but full rent if they occupy.
‘The fridge is really mouldy,’ Nick then said, to which Adrian replied:
‘Well since I cleaned it at the beginning of July I don't see how. Although, come to think of it, when Josh came I asked if he wanted me to switch it on ready for him, and he did. What happens after that, is between you all. He probably switched it off after using it, and kept the door shut – that would lead to mould forming.’ 
Sian then joined in, ‘I had to spend three hours cleaning my room and there were coffee rings on my window sill.’ 
She should have ‘phoned the United Nations to report it as an international incident. 
‘I don’t know how you could have spent that long cleaning a small, empty room,’  Adrian replied. ‘I moved all the furniture when I vacuumed it.’ 
On and on they went.  Adrian then suggested Nick go and do an actual reading of the gas meter and it turned out that one unit had been used up. 
‘That would be the pilot light over the summer,’  Adrian opined. 'What's that? 50 pence worth?'
'Well the bill was for more than 50p,' Nick said.
So Adrian explained about standing charges. 
‘What I will not have, though,’  Adrian declared, ‘is the pair of you going on at me, as though I am some terrible person. Because I am not. I don’t like the way you’re talking to me and this is a very bad start to the tenancy. And, in terms of the state of the house, I assume now that every time I come here, it will be looking like a new pin and you will be model tenants, since you have such high standards.’ 
In fact, over the course of their tenancy, Nick was the worst payer out of all of our students, constantly paying his rent at least three weeks later, after ignoring many reminders. And in terms of 'Sian' we had to send a warning to our letting agents never to let an employee attend the house alone. Our windows man had gone to the house when no-one was there to finish putting a fitting on a window and Sian realised someone had been there and went absolutely crazy, ranting in emails and texts about how she could have been on her own etc. She even got her father involved. The pair of them were mental.
And the same week I'd happened to hear a programme on Jeremy Vine about women making false accusations about men and I had a really bad feeling about this Sian. She was definitely unhinged enough to throw about wild accusations.  Men on the programme had had their businesses and marriages ruined, when it appeared that it had just been one woman's word against theirs. Even if they'd been found not guilty, their lives had still often been wrecked.
Anyway, Adrian came home that particular day around 5pm and debriefed and I filled him in on my testing time with  Jason and Okie. He’d had nothing to eat since breakfast (it being a ‘fasting day’ on his 5:2 diet) and he started going on at Tom (and me, by extension for not sorting him out better as his mother), for not having taken the dog for a walk. 
If he’d had no altercations with tenants and hadn't been on the stupid diet, he wouldn’t have been so irate and I wouldn’t have stormed off with Tom to take him to his tennis class. I also would have had plenty of time to walk the dog if I hadn't had to spend an hour and a half at the tennis club. And while Adrian had taken the dog in the morning for an hour’s walk which, frankly, he enjoys, I had tidied up, emptied the dishwasher, cleaned up the dog’s overnight and early morning bowel excreta, checked the banks on-line, set Tom up with his morning Maths lesson and helped him with it, as he was ill at the time and I was home schooling him for his GCSEs no less, and I had answered a load of enquiries about viewing another house. I did not, as I am fond of saying, sit on my backside and do nothing. 



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