Christmas and New Year were far from quiet. It kicked off with the Poles next door partying and arguing till the early hours and frantic texts from my tenants who had to get up for work the next morning. We happened to be in town when one text came through at 10.45pm so decided we’d check out the noise pollution for ourselves. Kids in the car, we parked outside the house and listened……..and carried on listening. Nothing, apart from the low hum of conversation so returned home and kids stopped rolling their eyes in boredom and repeating that they will never, ever become landlords.
During this time I was working on getting a young lad into a single room. He’d been ousted by his parents at 16 and gone to live in supported accommodation where he was allowed to stay until he turned 19. Speaking to the social workers on duty they were less than enthusiastic about him (strange, as I thought they needed him to move on), but wouldn’t give a reason why. The more I met him so we could navigate the benefit system, the more he grew on me and I really liked him. We’d also had the “zero tolerance” drug talk and he assured me he kept his weed smoking to the park at weekends. He wasn’t particularly quick in getting the paperwork back to me but I put that down to lack of literacy skills and his getting the correct paperwork from Housing.
My Narrow Escape
That weekend, much to my daughter’s horror, our local PCSOs stalked me round Boots and warned me of the penalties of shoplifting (which I wasn’t, it was clearly their idea of a police joke to brighten up their Saturday afternoon beat). “Oooh, good! While I’ve got you here, have you heard of XXXX? Also, we’re having some problems with noise at number XX and wondered if you could keep your ears out whilst on the beat, especially Friday and Saturday nights”. Turns out the young lad was a well known drug dealer in town, having been convicted a couple of times and the noisy neighbours were on the police’s “being watched” list.
The moral of this story? I would never have found out these details without local knowledge and when I asked my potential tenant about his failed reference check, he said “Oh yeah, forgot to tell you” and put the phone down quickly. His mum texted me on Christmas Day asking why he couldn’t have the room – my response: “He failed the referencing process.” and I didn’t hear another word. Shame, I really did want him to have that room but just couldn’t risk the company he was keeping.
Just as I was engaging in a humiliating game of Wii Dance with my nieces on New Years Eve away from home, first text came through and Petra had locked herself out of her room. Another text on the back of this from Ted to say Helga had locked herself out. “Don’t you mean Petra?” I said. I lined up the builder to get the spare set of keys to let her in the following day. A few glasses of wine later a text read “It’s OK, I’ve got myself in. Petra xx” then another, “It’s OK, I managed to get Helga into her room. Ted”.
It was about 10pm by this time and I was trying to pace myself “Ted, her name is Petra NOT Helga and you’ve been living in the same house as her for 3 months! Thanks for sorting it” (without the spare set of keys I don’t know how). Returned home a few days later, bumped into Petra and Helga who said “Imagine, we’d both get locked out on the same night!” Ted must have thought I was bonkers.
The next story is sadder: one of my tenants had a mental breakdown shortly after new year. His head was so full of “noises” that he spent the day drinking, came home kicked the bathroom door off its hinges, grabbed a knife, banged on the other resident’s doors (who called the police), left the house and mistook the NCP car parking attendant for an assailant and attacked him. I was called to make a statement and he ended up in court the next day and released on bail.
I’m not going to say much more at this stage as I am happy for any of my tenants to read what I write about them as all the posts are factual. In this guy’s case, the issues run deep but suffice to say, he’s been with me for four years, an asset to the two houses he’s been in and, the following day, we spoke more in one hour than we had during his entire tenancy. He isn’t a danger to the other tenants, they all know it was out of character and are supporting him whilst the NHS mental health system work out what to label him as. Before anyone makes a judgement: I reckon the events in his life had just become too much to bear and the drink made him do stupid things – haven’t we all done that at some point (but not with a knife!)?