Happy New Year to all my Readers! I hope this year brings you all that you strive for and thank you for coming back to read more about the realities of running HMOs.
Importance of Ongoing Maintenance
A dull subject but, despite the torrential rain and storms over the Christmas period, we only suffered one tiny leak across all the properties. This is proof in itself of the need to consistently address any maintenance issues as soon as they occur and don’t patch the holes or be a skinflint otherwise your phone will be ringing off the hook with distraught tenants whilst you’re trying to toast yourself by the fire.
Talking of leaks, the biggest one I had was inside a house. Lilian from Portugal called saying “Metal thing on wall, it dripping water. You come”. I was there within a couple of minutes (beauty of having the properties in one area) to find a not insubstantial lady trying to hold up her room radiator whilst water gushed, yes, gushed NOT dripped from the pipes flooding the carpet. I swore, phoned the builder who is working on the new project, took over holding the radiator as she was about let go and shouted descriptions for towels, buckets and shallow pots to capture the water. She came back with most of the saucepans and a tooth mug. Have you seen how much water can come out of a radiator and how long it takes? All the knobs to turn off the supply were stuck, the pathetic tiny pipes feeding it were bending under the pressure, she and I were trying to prevent the radiator falling any further whilst the builder and his mate cracked a few jokes, ferried the escaping water to the bathroom and tried to work out how to stop it racing through the system and onto our feet
Finally it all stopped, the boiler and water supply to the property had to be turned off which meant no flushing toilets, no showers and no heating. In the calm I asked Lilian how it happened “I don know. Not my fault” until I pointed out all the washing which was stuffed behind the radiator. She then had the cheek to complain that it was cold and she couldn’t go to the loo. “The shopping centre behind the house has plenty of toilets, use those till it closes and we’ll have come up with a solution by then” and I left her to ponder the folly of her actions. To be fair the fixings weren’t great, but they’d stood up to two previous tenants before her and I suspect she’d either leant on it or it had yielded under the weight of her enormous underwear.
A Landlord Must Have
I was amazed that the above leak hadn’t caused more damage in the room below until Roman, another Pole reliant on Google Translate, left on Christmas Eve. I pulled back his curtains to find huge amounts of mould growing up the bay window. He’d been drying clothes in his room, hadn’t opened any windows and there must have been water somewhere above his ceiling but he didn’t think to mention it!
Out came the Marigolds and a trusty bottle of Muffycid which is, quite simply, the most effective mould killer/cleaner I’ve found. Spray it on, sit back and play Candy Crush on your phone for 15 minutes, et Voila! The mould has disappeared and there’s a slight bleach smell – just make sure you’re wearing old clothes as it’ll ruin any fabric it touches.
Many of my tenants have been working their socks off in the hotels during Christmas and New Year, paying their rent from tips (lots of £5 notes!) and have gone home for January and half of February whilst the hotels close. Realising that most of them wanted to give up their rooms and look again when they came back, I offered them the deal of half rent whilst they were away to encourage them to have somewhere to leave their stuff and return. It’s not in my interest to have empty rooms at this time of year or to go through the process of settling in new tenants. All of them took the deal and are now spending time with family and hopefully Immigration will let them back into the country in a few weeks time.
Finally, New Horizons
Following Nadine’s cancer treatment last year and her mother’s death, she has taken a long desired voyage. Her mum left her a little money so she’s gone for the trip of a lifetime for four weeks to discover the delights of India and its people. She said “I’ve got more surgery to come, I have no idea how long I’ll live, so I’m just going to go and realise my dream before I undergo more surgery later this year”. And, yes, she got the half rent deal too.