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  • Property-a-holics

    Perplexed - inexplicable tenant behaviour

    Not quite sure how best to articulate this. It is not meant to offend, it's just an observation.

    So I would often say that running HMOs is quite similar to being a parent. I have 4 children between 7 and 18 so I know.  In fact when one girl left one of our hmos to buy a place of her own, after 8 years renting, she jokingly said that her biggest challenge now would be learning to deal with everything that a "proper grown up" has to do.  She told me that for years I had done all her "adulting" for her!  So there is a large part of society, mostly younger, renting rooms etc that seem quite happy to relax and let others deal with a lot of things for them.

    Yesterday, I visited one of my hmos to do the garden and I noticed the kitchen drain was blocked outside. This was the second kitchen drain I had unblocked in les than 7 days, both at HMOs.  Why?  Food and fat chucked down without a care in the world or its infrastructure. The type of food and the smell is a standard, I notice.

    Also at this house, the heating was on (and at 26 degrees!!!) and nobody was in. It was a lovely warm day so 2 of the bedroom windows were open too, I guess to let some of the heat out, although all the rooms do have TRVs.. This house has a fairly simple to use Vaillant boiler, less than 1 year old, where I had programmed it for them (nobody else could quite understand it) but obviously somebody had overridden it all and put it on to constant, again without a care in the world.

    Recycling?  Dream on! Half-hearted at best, despite me providing different bins in the kitchen and explaining as best I can understand.

    I see this an awful lot, repeated over and over.

    I have a chap that works for me and who is 32, but an overgrown 16 . The conceptt of recycling is completely alien to him and I have to tell him daily. To him, it is something that only other people have to do.  He is staying at a house we are refurbishing at the moment.  I note that he likes to sleep with the heating full on but his window wide open for fresh air.  I note this because I have to wake him up most days when I get to the house to start work in the mornings.

    I can't be alone in this observation of how a lot of people live.  I have had several HMOs over decades and this is pretty standard despite having very professional tenants.

    So where does this constant pool of people come from who just don't care?  Surely ignorance can't be an excuse for intelligent people?

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    Nowt so queer as folk!  Property is a people business, and as such, you are going to meet individuals who do not behave in the manner you would hope or expect.

    This is why robust tenant referencing is so important and should including checking the tenant's lifestyle via their social media profiles and also asking to visit them in the current property, if at all feasible.

    I used to subscribe to the idea that, if you provided good quality accommodation for someone, they would respect that, and maintain it.  However, I have long lost confidence in that notion when it comes to BTL.  (It has only proved to be the case with holiday lets, and I have never had anyone treat our holiday lets with anything other than respect in 9 years - touch wood!).

    I have had really lovely, well presented professional people live in the most disgusting and squalid conditions, showing no respect for how nice the property was when they took possession of it.  I have had furniture moved into weird positions blocking doors, cigarette ash all over the carpet, dog doo doo all over the garden, dirty clothes strewn around the place, dust an inch thick, and one toilet that never saw toilet cleaner or a brush for five years.

    However, when you go on a wealth education course, all you have to do is provide a property and then sit back and collect the rent and you'll never hear a peep from your tenants, never have to service their needs, never have to act as a social worker, never have to make a repair, never have to chase the rent, never have to deal with anti-social behaviour, never have to see a beautiful room or property trashed .... yeah, right!

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    Yes I have also had all of the above.  Filthy kitchens with three professional female tenants living there,  all in their late 20s.   No lights in the bathroom. All three bulbs gone.  When I asked how long it been like that they couldn't remember.  One girl who has a room opposite the bathroom,  also has a boyfriend who is an electrician.  It is a fairly low ceiling so all they had to do was reach up and change the bulb and let me know how much they had paid for them.  She said he had been complaining that there was no light in the bathroom for weeks.

    I recently had a Polish girl who had behavioural problems and required a shower every four hours  24 / 7  - even at 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

    Blocked toilets are a regular occurrence.  Heating on with windows open is another, although I have Hive to control that and plastic boxes over the thermostats.  I have put Timeostat in my latest HMO and it works a treat.  They are too idle to get off their arses to go and switch it on.

    I could go on and on and on but hey ho,  that's the joy of being an HMO landlord.

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    Just remembered another.  24 year old graduate fond of exotic holidays brings back a plague of bed bugs in his suitcase. They then proceed to bite him and his girlfriend.  The house was treated for any infestations with chemicals from top to bottom just 18 months before so I know it was free of wood lice or wood worm or anything else. We did this as part of the refurb.

    He decides that the bed bugs are my problem, caused by me and demands new furniture and bedding and that the room is completely treated again by a specialist contractor.

    I decided to treat the room while he was away on yet another exotic holiday.  On entering the room I found around 300 pairs of  colourful  socks bundled up into balls,  under the bed,  in the bin, in the draws, in the cupboard -everywhere.  Ideal hiding places for any insect. I sprayed the mattress and left it at that. 

    Luckily he got a new job and left.  I retained half of his deposit for redecorating and treating the mattress.   No problems since.

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    Ha ha, had the exotic holiday girl who brought bed bugs back which spread to the whole house and became my problem.  I bought all new beds and of course I paid.

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    I have usually found the following.

    Girls renting are a nightmare. They are untidy, dirty, and never look after the place.

    Three together and you are asking for problems, one always argues with the others and usually fall out. Men on the other hand appear to get on much better. They have a argument , get it over with then go down to the pub and forget about it.

    Best are couples as one always appears to want keep the place clean and tidy and puts pressure on the other to conform.

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    Had 4 professionals (engineering post-graduates) from Rolls Royce and JLR with excellent references and reasonable credit checks, 1 non professional and 1 ex-council housing dept employee move into a beautifully refurb'd 6 bed all en-suite new HMO in Birmingham. 

    One (a German engineer) was a model tenant.

    The others never once cleaned, Stole the money I paid cleaners. Smashed the font door in when lost keys after a nights drinking and claimed it was burglars (strange the the main culprit's door was also shouldered in).

    They never once cleaned, smashed up new furniture, blocked toilets, bent the new stainless steel fridge doors and trashed the new bins, burnt holes in the worktops, removed door closers, never once replaced a bulb, cut the lead off the new hoover, left whole bags of old chips, half eaten Pizza under the fridge, never emptied the bins, left food crumbs and unspecified goo all over the kitchen floor and surfaces, then complained about the mouse infestation, didn't pay rent, stole pots, broke legs off 2 wardrobes where they dragged them to different position in their rooms, opened fizzed up coke and beer cans all over the ceilings, smoked and disabled the smoke alarms, pulled shower head rail off two shower walls dealt drugs from the house, upset the neighbours with loud late night music, stole cutlery and broke crockery and threatened violence when I issued a section 21 ...

    I could go on. It took 6 months to get rid of them all during which time, they paid less than half rent due.

    The fact that they never used the re-cycling bin and always left the heating on full blast with the windows open was a pretty minor irritation. I had had several more trouble free HMOs in the past, but this experience changed my attitude for good.

    I now let mostly to charities and service providers and have full repairing lease, 'Inspire' web controlled central heating and almost no probs. Bliss!  We learn.

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    Properly initiated into landlord life then!

    I can only top that with the my beautifully refurbished 4 bed Victorian semi being accidentally burnt out after I unknowingly let it to prolific indoor gardeners. That was nearly 10 years ago.  I am stronger, but poorer, for it.


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    " So where does this constant pool of people come from who just don't care? "

    From parents that just don't care? There's plenty of them out there!

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    This has made me chuckle!

    I lost the plot with mine over recycling, I told them it was about the planet and if it didn’t happen I would put the rents up! It focused their minds!

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    All products of todays lifestyles and education, most will never have stood on their own two feet properly, bills will always have been someone elses problem, until they are paying directly for the gas they use opening windows will be easier to let heat out than adjust a radiator, they’ll also have the view “i’m paying for it so i’m using it”.

    Many will never have done the washing up, used a washing machine, cleaned or cooked , suddenly having to do so comes as a bit of a shock.

    As for recycling, there’s a growing backlash in general. Recycling should be based around an industry processing the waste we produce, not consumers being asked/cajoled to produce a raw material for a producer free of charge. Modern waste to power/heat incineration is the way forward to my mind.

    personally i seperate out glass and paper/card, the rest goes in general waste, plus a compost bin in garden. My general waste goes in communal bulk bins, glass and paer in the adjacent bins, in 12 years the dustman has taken stuff maybe a dozen times.

    I’ve better things to do in life than empty bin stores of refuse the bin man has declined to take for whatever reason, i tell my tenants not to recycle unless they are going to take the items to the collection point and instead use the communal bins the council provides. Its actually easier for the tenants, no sorting and storing varoius containers, putting them out on right day and returning containers to the bin store.

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