You may remember my posts about Andrew – a serial gambler, unable to hold on to any money long enough to throw my way. I haven’t told you the whole story and, at risk of being stoned by fellow landlords, here it is:
Andrew came on the recommendation of another tenant who said he would vouch for him (first warning!). After only a couple of weeks he’d stopped paying the rent, resorting to pawning his cracked iPad. Over the months that followed he attempted to “go straight” and really, really tried but just couldn’t do it. We had long conversations about his childhood in foster care, how his drug fuelled parents locked the front door and went on holiday leaving him to care for his three younger siblings when he was eleven with no money (he was so desperate he went to a phone box to call the police) and his disrupted education culminating in anyone remembering to send him to sit his GCSEs. He couldn’t read or write except for designer labels and betting odds and was doing his community service for holding up a bookies. He moved to our town to be nearer his mum who promptly left, abandoning him yet again.
On the plus side, he was a cheeky, lovable, charming rogue who was a good father to his lovely young son and managed to attract a stream of beauties. He even had me wrapped around his little finger with his desire to make life better, get a proper job and be self sufficient. We budgeted, I showed him how to eat on £25 a week, we confronted his debts and stayed in regular touch. He even managed to get a job, but was sacked after screaming at a waitress after a couple of weeks.
I helped where I could: gave him the train fare to work, bunged him enough money to eat until payday, lowered his rent to the LHA level whilst he got on his feet and even paid off the bloke who was “going to beat up that pretty little face” when he stole and gambled some takings. It wasn’t a lie, I heard the phone call and my heart went out to him as he sobbed under his duvet.
I’m a patient girl, but realised that as my own 6 year old son grows up and learns more sophisticated ways of winning my affection (“If I tell you I love you, can I have a biscuit?”), Andrew wasn’t growing up at all. I showed him a £10 note and asked “What do you see?” He replied “A chance to make £20 or £50”. I said I saw a few meals or a pair of kid’s shoes from Asda and soon realised this was an illness I couldn’t possibly overcome for him. He even went to Gamblers Anonymous to appease me but didn’t return for a second meeting.
His usual trick was to obtain expensive mobiles on contract and sell them on – I reckon he’d done this three of four times in as many months and was becoming even more desperate. There’s a CCTV photo in our local paper under the title “Man Wanted For Cash Machine Damage” and he looks suspiciously like him.
Enough was enough when I could see that it didn’t matter how much I helped, listened or pointed him in the right direction it was clear that he needed more. I suspect his life has been guided by social workers, foster parents, etc. all deciding what was best for him so, when he left the system and his brothers were already in prison, he just couldn’t see a way to lead a “normal” life. He’s bright, kind, charming and could have so much potential but am more annoyed that he couldn’t see it himself when I should be angry at the £700 rent arrears he owed me.
Yesterday he left after I went to file court papers. As a landlord, I’m happy to have the room back but, as person, I wish he could have found the path that would make his dreams come true – i.e. putting together a home, family and job which he had never experienced. I wish him well and understand he’s left town but I don’t think he even knew if that was the truth or not.