When landlord duty's is to be done, his lot is not a happy one.

>>  Monday, November 06, 2017

I confessed many years ago I was a landlord, I still continue to make a steady loss every year.

I've had many tenants some good, some not so good.  There was the airing cupboard converted for a use that clearly required warm air and plenty of light!  And the one with the cupboard full of stolen and part opened post.  Of course these are the things you find after a tenant has moved out.

There are the things that happen whilst the tenant is in like a mouse nest under the bath (this is a modern house, how the hell did that happen?!), the new boiler, the new integral fridge/freezer, yet another new cooker, a new shower, a broken shower door, fixing mouldy grout.   Sometimes it seems endless and frustrating as I know that my own bathroom would get mouldy if I didn't keep it clean and aired but some tenants just don't seem to get that houses need looking after.  But my last tenant has completely broken the mold.

There was the usual cooker woes.  This seems par for the course with tenants but this cooker was only 18 months old.

The house definitely had mice (I guess as it had them 10 years ago it is clearly prone to them) but the kitchen cupboards were left with lots of food in them, unwrapped, next to open plates of mouse poison (and packets of dog and cat food - they weren't allowed pets).

There were layers of carpet in the garage each with mouse poison scattered between them.  Nice.

The kitchen had a few cupboard doors off, the floor covering ripped and stained. The new fridge was left with rotting food in it, mould growing in it and the seals black with dirt.

But lets move into the garden with piles of dustbin bags of rubbish, more carpet (none in the house had changed!) , bedstead,  a couple of plastic tables, a broken child bike and scooter.  The shed still full including 2 broken lawn mowers and a broken tumble dryer.  The outside house walls had been drawn on.

In the house there were a couple of pieces of furniture and a lot of children's clothes and bedding.  In the garage lots of toys, boxes of personal belongings, ornaments, wedding photos, broken hoover.  You could only assume that they had confused the  concept of  'move out' but after a lot of trying to get them to collect their stuff I gave up, including the inevitable packet of drugs which, like the cooker, seems a tenant change par for the course!

The garage door lock and entire mechanism had completely disappeared. The backdoor lock was broken from someone unsuccessfully trying to pick it.  The bathroom was the usual mould fest and both toilets in the house had stains that took me over a month of trial of different cleaners to clear.  The living room carpet was soiled beyond saving and the whole house smelt so bad it was wretched.

I stood in the hallway and sobbed.  I always find it hard to do maintenance on the house, it was my home when Cog was born and the place of my marriage break up.  It is a brick basket brimming with emotion for me.  This mess just seemed insurmountable.

So I have had a summer of hard work and workmen management.  Once the house clearance had started I thought it might get easier, but each step of the way seemed to reveal another issue to be resolved.  Like finding that the meters had been changed to pay as you go but were in debt so each time we topped up it sucked the money away to clear the debt, took us a while to discover and sort that one!!   There was a large amount of clinical waste left in the house, 3 buckets worth of needles.  It was actually quite hard finding someone prepared to dispose of them and of course I had no medical paper work to go with them.  A final beg to the council for a one off collection worked.  But the surprises, like the lollipop stick,  just kept on coming.

I was so lucky that some workmen I know really pulled out stops for me and they recommended friends with integrity to do other jobs that needed doing. So whilst the money has flowed out and the work seemed endless I was at least confident every step of the way that they really were working hard, at a good price and were doing their best for me.

So here I am 3 months later:

All tenant rubbish cleared
complete new kitchen including fridge (again), cooker (again), extractor, lights, tiling, cupboards, work surfaces, sink taps.
New bathroom tiles (again), taps, bathroom cupboard, window sill.
Electric extractor fan fitted in the bathroom
All light switches and plugs replaced.
All door handles replaced
Entire house redecorated (inside and out)
Wooden banisters and balustrades scrubbed and restained
New carpets in living room, bedrooms, stairs and landing
New flooring in kitchen, downstairs toilet and bathroom.
New window panes in almost every room (double glazed panes had blown)
Downstairs toilet fixed, waste, taps etc
All builder rubbish cleared
Gardening done, rubbish cleared
Drive cleared of weeds and brushed hard.
Smashed outside lights and sensors replaced
Patio door fitting fixed.
Locks fitted/replaced
House fully cleaned
Glass light shades all taken down and washed, and broken/missing ones replaced
Windows cleaned inside and out
Outside walls scrubbed
New light shades in bedrooms
New bedroom curtains and landing blind
Pest control check (with the rubbish gone, the house clean and a few holes blocked up there is no sign of them at all)
(Each time I read this list I add to it, it was seriously never ending)

I have done as much work as I could myself.  But through it all, I've still been working and looking after Cog.  At one point I got to the house and there were 6 work vans there, 6! I felt my bank account empty as I sat there looking at them.

But now the final snagging is done, I have scrubbed and scrubbed until the smell is no more and even more reassuringly after a few weeks of being on the rental market without a sniff, finally people have started to show an interest in renting it, so hopefully soon it will be occupied again - remember whilst it is empty I also have to pay the council tax on it.

So all that is left of this current nightmare is trying to work out how the hell to carry that much loss over in my tax return....

Oh yes and the fact that the old tenant is in dispute with me to get the bond back.  This amazes me and frustrates the hell out of me.  I appreciate that not all of the work that has happened is attributable to them but you actually have to have paid your rent to get the bond back!  They never paid the last months rent.  So just adding the cost of house clearance and cleaning and nothing else to the rent owed is still more than the bond.   But I know I will be lambasted as a bloodsucking, money grabbing landlord to be maligned.


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