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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.

Environmental Health on our case.
27 May 2014 @ 16:52

Then, on the 19th of February,  Adrian had the pleasure of meeting an Environmental Health Officer at the house, for an inspection. The following letter resulted from the inspection:
Dear Sir
RE. The Housing Act 2004 – Licensing of HMOs
   Additional Licensing Scheme
   The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006
   HMO Address: Hill View.

I refer to my recent inspection of the above property on 19th February. During my visit I noted numerous items that require your attention in order to comply with the conditions under the above licensing scheme:
 The ground floor bedroom was fitted with a mortise lock. The mortise lock must be replaced with a Yale type lock or thumb turn lock or alternatively the lock blanked off from the inside of the room. [this was annoying because  Jason broke the door and the lock and we had just paid to replace them both, so both the door and lock were brand new, yet not good enough for the council’s exacting standards]
The following fire doors within the property require suitably adjusting so as to ensure they close automatically and securely into the door frames.
Kitchen fire door,
Ground floor rear bedroom,
First floor rear bedroom, and
Fire door to the basement.
[since we had made no changes to the doors when they passed the inspection two years earlier, this meant that the tenants had caused this problem and we had to pay to fix it. Of course, any normal person props up these stupid self-closing doors as they are extremely annoying to have banging constantly around the house] 
The overhead door closer to the first floor right hand bedroom (as viewed from the front of the property) was missing. The closer must be replaced and the fire door suitably adjusted so as to ensure the door closes automatically and securely into the door frame.

At the time of inspection the fire alarm panel was damaged and there was no smoke detector installed within the ground floor hallway. A smoke detector must be installed within the ground floor hallway. A certificate confirming the type of detectors installed within each room of the property, along with confirmation that the system is in good working order must be forwarded to this department. [both the panel and the smoke detector were vandalised by  Jason]

There is no means of ventilation to the basement WC. A suitable mechanical ventilation system must be installed within the WC capable of providing three air changes per hour when in use. It should operate for not less than fifteen minutes after the facility has been used. [the most likely scenario now was that we would pay to have this fitted, the light in the loo would get left on, while we paid the increased electricity bill to cover the vent too, and then the misuse of it would lead to it burning out and breaking and we would then be told to fit a new one when they next inspected]

The paintwork was flaking on the brick surrounding the front door. All loose and flaking paint must be suitably rubbed down and the brickwork repainted. [Adrian would do this, but again I found these demands extremely petty; like they were looking for any tiny thing so that they could say they’d done their job, that they’d raised the standing on housing in the area. Uh, they hadn’t; we had]

The fire alarm system should be tested on a regular basis and records kept in a logbook. The testing and maintenance recommended practice is as follows:

Test the alarm system by operating all alarm sounders in the dwelling at least every month.
Annually test each smoke detector for response to smoke.
Clean smoke detectors periodically in accordance with manufacturer instructions.
Keep a written record of testing and maintenance in the form of a logbook.
[more bloody work to do – traipsing up every month. Why every month?]
As specified within your licence conditions you must display in a prominent position in the house the following information:
A copy of the licence currently in force in respect of the property.
The name, address and contact number of the licence holder and manager if different, and nominated agent if applicable.
Details of contact arrangements in case of an emergency in respect of the property. [the tenants had all of this already, but we had to print it out now and pin it on a wall somewhere]
A copy of a valid test certificate for the fire detection, warning and emergency lighting system. [more money to be paid to the electrician]
A copy of a valid test certificate for all gas appliances etc. (if any)

As discussed at the time of inspection consideration should be given in the near future to repainting the bathroom ceiling and cleaning out the grouting joints to the wall tiles within the basement bathroom. [Why can’t they ask the tenants to do this? Why can’t they ask the tenants to do anything?]
A revisit will be carried out in 28 days time to check compliance with the above requirements. If in the mean time you have any queries regarding any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact me on the above telephone number.
Yours sincerely
Mrs Suzanne Williams
Environmental Health Officer
Public Health and Protection 

Adrian said the woman was actually fine in the flesh and he told her all about recent events particularly with  Jason and Peter and the damage they constantly did to the house. I couldn’t help but be annoyed by the council’s interference though. We are expected to adhere to such a high standard, constantly clearing up the mess and damage made by tenants and there is the implicit blame attached to us as though we are not complying. In fact, we were, but most of the issues were the direct result of tenants’ behaviour, for which we never got recompense.  Adrian got stuck in straight away though, instructing our electrician to do most of the work specified in the letter. Thank God we didn’t have many HMOs; the council could have bankrupted us with all their demands.
(Years ago I wrote a stroppy letter back when we were given all these kinds of ‘improvements’ to do. We were told that there were insufficient electrical sockets in the living room and that they were inconveniently located. I wrote, ‘Yes, that’s the case in our house too, but it’s not a case of "money’s no object" and such works are not essential.’ The woman had also asked that we enlarge the loft hatch door; I said that there was no need as no-one ever went up into it. We had a few run-ins over the years.)


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