This week, I placed an ad in our local paper and received a call from a guy who wanted a room for himself, his wife and two children. I used my ususal excuse of “Under the terms of my insurance, I’m not allowed to accept children. Very sorry”. A lame excuse? Possibly, but to put a whole family in one room would get right up the nose of my other tenants – not to mention the creation of a queue for the bathroom.
What Do You Do If a Tenant Has A Child?
Now, tenants with children come in different formats: girl gets pregnant whilst in a house share, families can only afford one room (I often find this of foreign sounding applicants so maybe they don’t qualify for housing benefit help?) or, typically, bloke has been ejected from his marriage and home for a variety of reasons and desperately wants access to his child. We have a house which I renamed “Fathers For Justice” House as all the tenants were aged 20-30 years old, had fallen foul of the missus, lost all their money as I’m guessing their other half dealt with the finances and all they had left was a suitcase, a battered ego and a promise of child access.
Jason turned up on the doorstep clutching my phone number exactly 3 years ago this month. He had no money, a pile of debt, an angry ex-wife and two children. He’d been recommended by an existing tenant and, as regular readers know, I’m a sucker for a sob story. He’s a proud dad and pictures of his children are blue tacked all over the walls, they regularly come to the house and he keeps their scooters and a few toys in his room. When he was broke he still remembered their birthdays, kitted them out from charity shops in an attempt to provide and made sure he never missed an access visit. He’s now debt free, works hard and his kids are absolutely delightful – they’ve never stayed over for the night as Jason’s mum lives nearby.
John, a great bloke, handsome, but unreliable and slightly hygenically challenged. Claimed his wife had him done for domestic abuse and kept moving so he couldn’t make contact with her or their three children. He was with me for over a year until I had to evict him for non payment of rent, but we left on friendly terms and he’d managed to trace his children via Facebook. Domestic abuse? I doubt it, he visibly cowered when I had to give him my “I’m your New Best Friend before homelessness” talk.
Simon: has been with me for over 3 years and is in his mid twenties. He has a 9 year old son, Billy, who lives with the mother and her heroin addict boyfriend on a council estate. Simon trys hard, earns little and is a constant worrier – he also managed to get his new girlfriend pregnant earlier this year so he and I had to have a chat about “responsibility”. Billy has been somewhat a victim of tug of love as his mother decides as and when Simon can see him and it can be very irregular. Simon misses him when he’s not allowed access (for no good reason), can’t claim legal aid to challege any access issues but showers Billy with fatherly love and discipline when he stays over, especially as he was on a threat of a junior ASBO. By the way, Simon doesn’t want to move in with his girlfriend as he’s enjoying the houseshare so much and she has three other kids!
Neil: again, mid twenties and a bit of a wide boy with a beautiful three year old daughter. She used to stay over every other weekend until one my female meddling tenants suggested that the sleeping arrangements were “inappropriate”. She narrowly avoided a punch.
Tom: the saddest case of all. Two years ago his wife revealed that his 18 year old son wasn’t actually his and to this day they still haven’t spoken…………
The Point I’m Trying To Make
HMOs are NOT a suitable environment for a child to grow up in, not least due to the transient and unreliable tenants but also because children make noise at 6.30am and enjoy running water with the basin plug left in whilst expressing themselves through wall art. However, who am I to say that a tenant can’t have reasonable access to his child? He’s lost everything and the only accommodation he can afford is a rented room in a shared house or a park bench. The bond between the parent and child should be allowed to grow during the difficult circumstances he’s found himself in and it may just be the one thing that doesn’t turn him to drink, drugs or beating up other tenants.