Continuing on the maintenance theme (somehow I think this could be ongoing!) I’m in the midst of a continuing dilemma:
Tom has been a tenant for 4 years after being referred to me by the Salvation Army. He’s an asset to the house when sober but a pain in neck when drunk as he can never get his key in the front door when he staggers home and is often found on the stairs having forgotten which room he lives in! He’s unemployed, survives on Value noodles, spends his days ironing his clothes and keeping the common areas spick and span – talents picked up from his Army days.
The only time he has cash in his pocket is when he’s picked up a bit of work, but it doesn’t stay there for long. He’s told me of all the things he’s going to save for: a trip to see his mum in London, visit his brother in Ireland, upgrade to a bigger room. However, while the cash burns a hole in his pocket he just can’t help himself but go to the pub, followed by a ticking off by me after some of the other tenants complain about his behaviour when he gets home.
According to Tom he has lots of skills and is a trained HGV driver, scaffolder, builder, gardener, bouncer and can put a bullet in his enemy’s head from 5 miles away. Unfortunately, he can’t pass his CSCS (Construction Skills Certificate Scheme) test which is needed to work as a labourer on a building site. He says he revises but is thwarted by the multiple choice answers and the job centre will only pay for him to take the test 3 times.
In this vein, and in recognition of the fact that he tries his hardest to be a decent member of society, I give him some painting work. To be fair to him, the finish is excellent but I’m not 100% sure about his preparation. He tells me what he’s done, the products he’s used but always seems to have finished the work in a quarter of the time me and most legit decorators do. The point is, it keeps him happy, makes him feel useful and I compensate him for his time as well as giving him a little bit of credibility down the pub.
And here’s the problem – no sooner has the cash hit his pocket then he’s suited and booted, off to town and staggers home in the usual fashion. Another tenant, Jason, called me the other night “Have you given Tom some money lately ‘cos he’s off his face, banging on the front door and I can now see him p***ing in the porch. I ain’t answering the door because I swear I’ll smack him one!”. Luckily, my recently trafficked Romanian border guard graciously let Tom in and pointed him to the right bedroom.
Next day, I spoke to Tom to say that he’d put me in an impossible situation – I can’t give him my money just to drink and, whilst I appreciate once it had changed hands it became his, I was having to deal with the repercussions. Also, I’d done him a favour so he could visit his mum on her birthday. I’d previously mentioned that the hallway and outside the house needed doing but I’m going to retract those offers now – if he could cause havoc with £40 in his pocket imagine what he’d do with 10 x that amount!
At another house, a tenant called to say he’d got into a fight last night, the other bloke followed him home and put a plant pot through the window – could I get it sorted as it was letting in a draught?
Guess my maintenance budget really is being p***ed up the wall!