Spent the week painting the two available rooms to let and laying carpet – four years’ worth of spilt coffee, food and Heaven Knows What but at least it made painting easier, I didn’t have to put down dust sheets and managed to spill most of the paint on the old carpet.
Placing the ads in the local paper I noticed that, when I started doing HMOs I’d get around 1 person in 10 who was working, didn’t sound pissed or desperate and understood the concept of a deposit. Now, the ads attract 9 out of 10 normal, coherent sounding people who I’d have no hesitation in meeting and was lucky enough to receive around 15 enquiries this week. First to view was Pierre, a French accountant from Paris, who looked absolutely terrified at having found himself in a small seaside town in England following a job offer.
I had high hopes for the next applicant: James sounded lovely on the phone, said all the right things and we agreed to meet yesterday morning. On showing the room he kept asking questions about me so I thought “Good, he’s interviewing his landlady so it shows he has some integrity and wants to know what kind of set up we have here”. He’d looked at 14 rooms all of varying states of decay and cleanliness and was showing positive signs about this one. He told me he was 25 years old, a trainee architect in London, so it was good the house was near the station and had just broken up with his girlfriend and was fed up of living in a hotel. Wow! A hotel! Most of mine get fed up of living on a friend’s sofa or park bench.
We agreed he’d go off and have a think about it and let me know his decision by lunchtime. Gut instinct screamed “Yes! He’s polite, sensible, working and we can get along just fine – hope he takes it.” An hour later the following text messaging ensued:
James: “Hi. Just look last place, your house is definately the best. Can only see 1 problem!”
Me: “Call me and I’ll address the problem – is it the parking permit?”
James: “Possible problem could be finding your landlady very attractive. x”
Me: “James, I am far too old and stroppy for you. Do you want the room or just to flirt?”
James: “They say age is justa number dont they? What if I said just to flirt?”
Me: “I am flattered but think flirting is unwise. This doesn’t affect the offer of the room but, if you take it, it’s strictly business!”
James: “Ok well no harm in a cheeky flirt. You are very attractive sorry if I offended you”
Me: “No offence taken but do you want the room?”
No response so I moved on to Wayne, a coach driver, who has been renting a room for two and a half years in a well known DSS hostel for £125/week. He said it was getting a bit noisy and he couldn’t get a good night’s sleep which was affecting his driving. We agreed £95/week for the room plus £150 deposit but he had no idea what Deposit Protection meant. His landlord was holding £350 and he hadn’t received any kind of paperwork.
A Twist In The Tale
This morning I got another text from James “If room still available or any others please consider me. Had enough of hotel life now. Ha. James”
Me: “Hi James. I’m really sorry but someone came to look at the room last night and agreed to take it. I will text you my friend’s number and she nice bedsits. One may be available (she’s got a partner!)
James: “OK thank you. I dont make a habit of telling women their attractive you know. If you ever fancy a cuppa you have my number”
Later, I met my friend in the school playground and she put the question to me “That bloke you sent me. On a scale of a bit of dandruff to full on leprosy, how flaky do you think he was?” “I thought he seemed decent – good job, story seemed to stack up, gut instinct said he was a safe bet” I replied. “Me too!” she said “Until I checked his references – he told you he was an architect but told me he was a personal trainer, the number of his ex landlord wasn’t recognised and the gym he said he works for have never heard of him!!”
OK, so hitting on me wasn’t quite on the scale of Pascal, the ex French Foreign Legion/Special Forces commander who said “If I wasn’t ‘omeless, I’d marry you” or Pete who lay naked in bed, threw back his duvet and invited me to “Come and get the rent”, but for a brief moment it made this 42 year old believe she still “had it”!!