My blogs have lapsed over the last six weeks but this doesn’t mean nothing’s been happening and I’ve reached the financial stage where I can stick my slippers on, grab a cocoa, put my feet up and watch “Homes Under The Hammer”.
Instead I’ve been busy setting up two HMO’s for an investor. It’s taken me back to where I started five years ago trawling the charity shops for decent furniture, remembering all the items needed to kit out a kitchen and explaining to the electrician the importance of tamper proof thermostats. The difference this time is the investor was keen to get the project right first time and make the rooms look fabulous so very little maintenance will need to be carried out in the near future. You can read all about the project here.
In the meantime, last month Andrew got himself a job as an assistant chef in a pizza restaurant and he was so excited that he was finally going to be working legitimately. We had a chat and I poured cold water on his enthusiasm by asking how he was going to pay his £90 a week rent.
Andrew: “Oh, yeah, I hadn’t thought about that. When will I get paid?”
Me: “Well, more importantly how much are you going to be paid?”
Andrew: “Oh, I don’t know. About £6 an hour”
So we did some calculations based on his contract and expected overtime, deducted National Insurance and emergency tax after explaining what they were for and discovered that it wasn’t quite the amount he was expecting. And here was the next issue:
Me: “If you get paid in arrears next month, do you have any savings to get you through this month?”
Andrew: “No, I haven’t got any money. My ex-missus is screaming for her £20 a week child maintenance, I owe my girlfriend money and I owe you money”
Me: “How are you planning to get to work?”
Andrew: “I’ll get the train it’s cheaper than driving”
Me: “You don’t have a car”
Andrew: “Yeah, but it’s still cheaper than driving”
So, we left that one. In summary, he didn’t have any money, had a job to go to in another town the next day and wasn’t going to be paid until 4 weeks later.
Me: “OK, I’ll do you a deal. I’ll pay for your train ticket to get to work and give you £25 a week for food. Don’t ask me for any more and contact me when you’ve been paid so we can work out a repayment schedule. Also, remember it’s the chef’s job and the manager’s to shout at you so don’t retaliate”
Andrew: “Nah, I won’t be there for long anyway. I got plans. Anyway, I’m used to my social worker ordering me around”
Me: “Just remember you’ve got no work experience, a criminal record, sketchy reading and writing skills so you need this job to give you some credibility for the future. You’ll need to stay there a while for it to look good on your CV”
Andrew: “Yeah, good point. “
We made arrangements to meet a few hours later at the railway station so we could sort out his railcard and as I left he gave me an uncharacteristic hug and said “Thank you for helping me out. No one’s done that for me before”. I replied “Don’t be too grateful, I still think you have the capacity to screw me over.”
A month on and he’s still in the job, knackered but proud of himself and an expert in rolling pizza dough. He’s been paid and, after paying his debts, still owes me rent and his expenses but I’m first on the list for October’s pay. For anyone thinking I’ve laid myself open to be taken advantage of I do have any insurance policy: he accepted a Section 21 notice which will be invoked it he cocks this up.
At the station I noticed he was wearing a Hollister T shirt (clothes shop popular with teenagers). “You won’t be able to buy those for a while until you get yourself sorted. My kids put Hollister clothes on their Christmas list” I said.
Andrew: “Buy? Oh, this T shirt – nah I didn’t buy it. I can get your kids some if you like” he replied.
Me: “Er, no thanks. They can wait and I’ll give them vouchers”
A couple of days later and he sends me a text to say his girlfriend was about to give her Hollister branded clothes to a charity shop and did my girls want first choice? “Yes!!” they screamed excitedly. There’s a first – I’m now accepting charity from my tenants!