Happy HMO Tenants – And How To Keep Them That Way!

With the tantalising onset of summer, comes happier moods and none more so than in my “mature” house.   They’re still recovering from Simon’s outburst last month after he turned the whole house into a gibbering wreck, became paranoid that they were all against him and, as I later found out, had hounded them all into submission with his constant bullying.

This is a house I go to at least weekly, if not twice weekly and the tenants have been with me 7 years – so how the hell hadn’t I seen the destruction that was being wrecked by one person?  Because they were terrified of getting him into trouble with me.  There had been constant weekend parties, late night weed smoking, music playing and what felt like hundreds of strangers running amok through the house.

The tenants are in their 40s and 50s and usually not afraid to speak their minds, but what has come out is the systematic abuse levied by 24 year old Simon telling them that he “had rights” and “could do what he wanted” whilst appearing completely angelic to me.  He’d trashed the garden with BBQ parties and stolen all the kitchen equipment upon his eviction.

To help dissipate the atmosphere Simon left behind, the tenants asked if they could finally do up the garden.   Remember, this is their HOME, not a temporary place to stay until a Council house comes available as they’ve given up on that idea.  As benefit claimants, they don’t have much money and each pound not spent on necessities is a pound closer to saving for clothes or cider.  So, yesterday afternoon, we took a trip to the local garden centre with a budget of £40 and I sat in the car whilst they spent a happy hour choosing plants and compost.  To be honest, it was a bit like taking out a couple of aged relatives as they had a domestic half way round the bedding plant section after failing to agree on Salmon pink or white geraniums.

Back at the house, spent and happy here is the result:


We’ve since taken Chris, a 62 year old who enjoys listening to Radio 4, has a penchant for brown clothes, walks his ex-wife’s dog and, quite frankly, has “had enough of bleedin’ wimmin” – we love him!

Moral of this story:

(1) Don’t underestimate the damage one bad tenant can do in an HMO and,

(2) long term HMO tenants are happy to take responsibility for their environment – so give them some cash to make it home and let them choose the household items that make them feel they truly belong.


Filed under Management of an HMO

8 responses to “Happy HMO Tenants – And How To Keep Them That Way!

  1. I love your stories as they always make me chuckle. Could just picture them walking round the garden centre discussing geraniums. I rent out to single family units and do exactly the same thing as you allowing them to make it their home. I pay for paint but they choose colour and do the work – winner all round as we are all happy

    • Hi Jayne. Thank you for commenting. I have to say that, at first, I felt I had other things to do but, as we sat with a cup of tea afterwards (when I took the photo) it was a wonderful scene of domestic bliss and I realised just how awful the past few months must have been for them.

      Thanks for being such a regular reader!!


  2. Our house sharing environments often consists of 5 or 6 individuals with ages ranging from 20 to 35. I am not sure if it is a science, an art form, but certainly a fair amount of gut instinct is used when selecting individuals for the professional house share we own or house share we manage for clients to ensure we do not select a bad tenant who can and certainly will cause irreversible damage and upset the dynamics of a house in multiple occupation.

    I agree with your second point, if your tenants spend money and make communal arrears their home, you are onto a winner as they will be there for the long term. We find our average young professional tenant stays with us for 13 months and have a number of tenants who have been house sharing with us for over 18 months.

  3. Is great reading your posts…they offer some brilliant advice and make me laugh. Excellent!

  4. Hi,

    I have only just stumbled on this site and I have already spent a fair amount of the afternoon on it. Well done on a great site!

    Relationships in everything are key, especially in the landlords game. In a more cynical way they can be your get out of jail free card, but mostly they help keep occupancy high, property costs low, stress low and also give a feeling of doing right by people.

    I think your approach is great and I have just pinned your blog to my toolbar (who needs that accountancy software).

    We are based in Brighton and buy and maintain HMOs for ourselves as well as for a few select others. Relationships in every step of that business are vital.

    My first direct employee was a tenant who fell on hard times. We had built a good relationship during his tenancy and there is now mutual respect professionally as well, so the chance to give him an opportunity to find his feet again just seemed the right thing to do.

    Best wishes

  5. Pingback: Keeping Your HMO Looking Lovely Part 2 | A Practical Guide to Managing a House of Multiple Occupation

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