Here we go again – another tenant decides that his accommodation isn’t that important and decided not to leave his rent for me. Steve came to me as a friend of another tenant a year ago. He’d had two failed marriages, various children and was desperate for accommodation and, to be fair to him, admitted upfront that he was a gambling addict. We agreed that he’d ask Housing Benefit to pay his rent direct to me and he’d provide a guarantor as a back up. The first hurdle was to actually get the Housing Benefit team to give the money direct to me, so when he couldn’t provide proof that he was an addict (note from Gambler’s Anonymous, that kind of thing), he told them to give him a fiver and he’d show them what he’d do with it. That seemed enough evidence to the Housing Benefit agent and I received his Local Housing Allowance minus money he owed for a previous claim leaving a shortfall of £76 a month which I was concerned was too much for him to deal with.
Steve had become increasingly difficult to talk to . When he started his tenancy he was quietly spoken (I’m as deaf as an old post) but smiled and was charming. One morning I opened the front door of the house to be blown away by the stench of marijuana. I absolutely hate the smell as it gets into everything and affects my ability to concentrate! I adopted my best Nancy Drew tactics (1970s teenage fictional detective), sniffed each door and realised it was coming from Steve’s room. Answering the door, he opened it and just said “Yeah?”. “Please meet me in the kitchen” I said – I never go into a tenant’s room and close the door especially if they’re male. He was so stoned I thought he was going to pass out on the vinyl so I explained the zero tolerance drug rule to empty eyes and followed up with a Section 21 notice.
A couple of day’s later I got a call from Tom (one of my bigger tenants). “Look, I only shoved ‘im a little bit, but he was calling me a grass and was bein’ rude about you”.
“OK, so no damage done? He’s not going to like me because I’ve asked him to leave” I replied.
“Yeah, but he finks I grassed ‘im up to you, but I didn’t. That smells been around for ages and we all ‘ate it, but I didn’t ‘urt ‘im, ‘onest”
“OK, but you shouldn’t have got involved as my girly brain managed to work out where the smell came from all by myself so you can tell him no one grassed him up” (For big boys they can be a bit wet sometimes)
Two weeks later I got a call from another tenant “Why haven’t you done something about that animal Tom? He beat Steve and broke the sink and they looked like they were going to murder each each other!” So, back I go – “Did anyone actually hit anyone? If so, did anyone call the police?” Silence so I let it go.
Six weeks later, Steve had gone back to being his charming self and there’d been no drug odours so we had a chat and he asked to stay. My lovely, big front room became available and he begged to be able to move in. I knew that the back room he was in was darker and, being home all day, probably quite depressing also he seemed to want to make a go of his tenancy. However, it was substantially more expensive and it meant he’d have to pay £112 a month top up but he assured me it was fine as he’d be working at the car boot fairs.
His top ups have been sporadic to say the least – never there on time, bit of cash here – bit there. He asked me if he could pay me the following week as he was going clubbing in London and needed the money but absolutely promised it would be there the following week. It was his friends who last week caused me to be called out at 12.30am so, with no rent there AGAIN this week and £112 plus £57 carried over from last month still owing in rent top ups, I’ve got no choice but to ask him to leave again. I also heard he’d been saving hard to go clubbing in Spain……..
We’re taught as children by grown ups and the Bible that we should help our fellow man wherever possible, but it’s people like Steve that feed the cynic in me and make me vow never to help anyone again. I’m not quite ready to offer him the other cheek to slap though.
5:39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
Luke 6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back