Easter Break In

Happy Easter to all and I hope you’ve had a good break.  I spent the holiday in Sweden without children and had the unique experience of sampling Elk meatballs, Swedish Easter pop then falling asleep in a posh garden shed by the lake in -5˚C with no toilet.  By happy chance, I’d managed to lose my mobile just before leaving the UK and reckoned that my HMO world could survive without me for three days and thank goodness I did leave it behind………….

Burglary – An Inside Job?

On my return one of my tenants, Jason, had used his initiative and found my home number which is posted on the communal notice boards after I failed to respond to any of his numerous texts and calls at 1am on Saturday morning.  He’d been pounding the streets all day selling key rings on behalf of a creative businessman in the guise of a charity (which I won’t go into as I’m sure it’s legitimate if questionably moral).   As manager of the “gang” he’d taken £1300 worth of takings back to his room and then gone out for the evening, got back in the early hours of Saturday to find his door had been smashed in, the cash taken but Playstation, laptop, etc. left well alone.  Neither the front nor back doors had been forced so it became a foregone conclusion that it had been an inside job.

Now, my lot tend to act before they think and throw their weight around, accusing the person who looks the most scared or not there to defend themselves.  As it was the long Easter weekend most of the other tenants were either visiting their families or working extra hours but Jason and the police managed to track down and establish everyone’s whereabouts apart from Greg in the bedsit.  By the time I returned on Monday morning, Jason had gathered fictional evidence, tried and sentenced Greg for the pure reason that he had disappeared for four days (as it turned out he was visiting his children and got lucky with an ex), reported his suspicions to the “Big Boss” who phoned me to ask for Greg’s personal information which I refused to give.

Meeting the Local Gangster

The problem when you’re dealing with people when they’re emotional and suspicious is that they’re just not thinking straight and nothing you say will appease them.  Later that morning I visited the house myself to check out the damage and try to get a measure of the situation.  Before I knew it, Andrew had opened the front door and three men burst up the stairs toward the bedsit stopping when they saw me, started smoothing their hair and pretended they’d popped in to check out the landing carpet.  I asked what they were doing and they said they “just wanted a word” with Greg and to “ask him a few questions”.  I pointed out that subtlety wasn’t their strong point and suggested we continue the discussion in the kitchen (mainly for my safety as the communal lights kept going out).  The Boss (short stature, hard eyes, well dressed) wanted details of everyone in the house and how he “was going to get his money back” whilst his associates/flunkies shifted from one foot to the other, snarling and refusing to take their hoods off.

Intimidated?  Me?

To be honest, I was a bit worried /annoyed and explained that if they wanted to “interview” all the tenants they could do so OUTSIDE the house and  I considered it very rude that they barged in with no evidence to talk to people they’d never met.  These were my tenants, my house and my bloody rules and if anyone is going to throw their weight around, it’s me.  Eventually, the Boss said “I ain’t wasting my time here, we’re off.  It’s not about the money, it’s the principle and I want someone to pay”.  I kind of understand where he’s coming from but also pointed out that the only person in the house who knew that money was there is a self confessed gambling addict (who also works for him), could be placed at the scene of the crime and was probably also stupid enough not to have either (a) broken down the other room doors so Jason’s room wasn’t singled out, (b) forced entry via the front door to look like an outside job or (c) open the house front door to the Boss and allow him and his boys to run amok unaccompanied.

What Now?

So, here I am with a house full of unhappy tenants, ready to throw a punch at anyone who dares to accuse any one of them.  Jason has narrowed the culprit down now to Andrew but there’s no hard evidence and I’m left with not just a room door to mend but also tenant trust – not easy when the likely perpetrator is still in situ.

If you feel sorry for them, think about this poor fella!

On a lighter note:  whilst getting ready for the new term I found my son swinging his lunchbox around the kitchen and talking to it.  A few minutes later, he appeared in tears saying that the zip had broken and he needed to open it quickly.  Cursing cheap products, I went to chuck it in the bin and realised that there was something inside so cut the lid off only to find a very scared, sick looking guinea pig!  We turned the lunchbox upside down, cut out a door and called it “home”.


Filed under Management of an HMO

3 responses to “Easter Break In

  1. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    I spluttered up my morning coffee reading this. Another hilarious gem.
    I suppose most would find it terrifying but this is like my days at work (Guinea pig aside) and I have a black sense of humour.

    You can go to HMOs from Lands End to John o’ Groats and these situations are the norm. You need a very special temprament to deal with them.

    On Friday I interviewed a landlord who works closely with us. He has 6 properties and his tenants are either in prosin, on remand or being watched by police for dealing. I said to him “What is it with your tenants?”, he replied “I get them all from you” fair point

    • As we’ve said before: the world would be a very dull place if we were all alike. Besides, there aren’t many dentists, doctors or bank managers looking to rent a room and, as I stress to would-be HMO landlords, you’ve GOT to understand your market. Actually, you don’t have to understand but you do have to tolerate it! As I wrote it, I thought this would be water off a duck’s back to you and you have to deal with these situations every day. Perhaps I should start up a support group for HMO Landlords?!

  2. Pingback: Easter Break In: An Update | A Practical Guide to Managing a House of Multiple Occupation

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