Ok, so those of you who read my last post Easter Break In will know that an HMO room suffered a burglary where only cash was stolen (all other valuables left intact, including four bottles of champagne which proves it wasn’t me as I would have nicked the champagne first). After discussions with the victim and the other tenants, who are quick to deny culpability, the badge of suspicion was laid on Andrew. I’ve since found out that he’s not only a self confessed gambling addict, but is also on Pub Watch (this means he’s been banned from every pub in town for punching someone) and is on probation doing community service for holding up a bookies (not sure what with though).
I’ve been mulling over a solution to this problem as:
a) There’s no evidence it was him
b) The tenants are known by everyone in town that they repeatedly forget to lock the back door
c) I actually like the guy, he’s paid his rent bang on time every week and is adamant he’s innocent.
Watching My Move
In the meantime, I’ve got five other tenants watching what I’m going to do about it – one of which is never there and only uses the room to store his stuff following his bankruptcy, another who is at work all day, a Romanian ex-border guard working for a hotel, Tom the alcoholic when he’s got cash – salt of the earth when sober and the victim – a guy who is Andrew’s manager and recommended him for a room in the first place. They’ve all been quick to lay the blame and “threaten to punch the first f****r” to put a foot wrong but shy away from any confrontation when I try to bring them all together to find a solution considering their suspicions are based on little more than reputation. And, to be honest, I have no idea who it was either.
The trouble is, as landlady, I have to be seen as impartial, fair, law abiding and on every tenant’s side. These tenants, either through their own making or circumstances into which they are born, carry their vulnerabilities around with them until being defensive becomes a means of communication and, before I’ve even opened my mouth, assume what I’m going to say or interpret what I am saying as a personal attack on them.
I had decided to tell Andrew that I wouldn’t let his contract turn into a periodic at the end of his fixed term in July. Whilst the Section 21 would be a no fault notice, I felt that everyone was gunning for him, tensions were high and it would be better for all concerned if he found alternative accommodation. In fact, I have a room coming available that would suit him perfectly then, at least if anything else happened in the house, he couldn’t be blamed for it.
Before I’d even started the car engine the “Big Boss” was on the phone to me pleading, yes, pleading for me to let him stay in a call that lasted 28 minutes. This was weird because I’d heard that even he thought Andrew had committed the crime and was waiting for him to mess up again and he wanted to know why was I “chucking him out?”. I let him rant for a bit before explaining that I felt I was playing fair and then threw back to him – What would he do in my position? Wait for the inevitable showing of fists (note: showing NOT using), arguing and then everyone phoning me at midnight in the mistaken belief that I’m the police and can break up five grown men (two of whom are bound to be pissed)?
I left it with him that moving to another house may calm everyone down and allow Andrew to lead his life without preconceptions from fellow tenants; he suggested that I install CCTV cameras and security grilles. No to the grilles but last year I had been thinking about CCTV in the communal areas even though I really, really don’t want to see tenants in their pants going to the bathroom.
Whilst I check out CCTV costs, anyone got any other ideas? Or the number for the United Nations?!