As someone interested in HMOs and property, are you being bombarded with emails about property dreams and success? Amongst all the talk of yields and hot spot analysis, creative deals and finance, notice that day to day running costs are often evaded. Oh, they’ll tell you to factor in agents’ fees, insurance and refurbishment expenses, but HMOs’ maintenance costs go one step further eating into your bottom line.
Once tenants have moved into a flat or house as a single let, your job is pretty much done save for collecting the rent and dealing with any repairs. Once tenants have moved into an HMO, the babysitting duties begin. Take, for example, yesterday: on the usual rent collecting round I found teetering piles of dirty dishes on the worktop which is a big no no (House Rule#3 Always Wash Your Dishes). As the tenants are often too scared of petty conflict to confront the perpetrator, I sent the normal text round asking the owner to wash up within 24 hours. Kenza texted back to admit it was hers but she couldn’t wash up “because the kitchen light, it has fallen off”.
Pondering this over a cup of coffee I reckoned I would have seen a fallen light that morning, after all, I had cleverly observed the broken shower door lying on the bathroom floor which no one had reported so a light dangling above the exact space I saw the dirty dishes couldn’t have escaped my notice. After ten minutes, I had to accept responsibility – of course the kitchen was dirty! There were no cleaning products and it was my job to sort it out. (By the way, I am being completely tongue-in-cheek. House Rule #9 is to contact me if any item needs replacing).
Rather than marveling at the tenants new level of “it’s not my problem” I headed off to the discount store and loaded up with enough products to prompt a fellow shopper to ask me where the camping equipment was kept. “Oh, sorry” he said “I thought you worked here and were restocking the shelves with the amount of stuff you have in that trolley”. To be fair, I hadn’t changed out of my wellies and probably sported the same dispirited look as the shop staff. Even the checkout girl stopped chewing her gum long enough to ask if I had OCD (Obsessive Cleaning Disorder). I smiled weakly, as telling her I was buying two month’s worth of products for five houses would probably be difficult to comprehend – for both of us.
The products were delivered and stored and the lightbulb was changed which is about the extent of my maintenance skills, but clearly not my tenants’. Standing in the kitchen, I realised this is grass roots stuff which makes the HMOs successful. The tenants may not possess the skills to diagnose a broken lightbulb, wash up, understand the difference of urgency between no internet service and a burst pipe, but it’s taking care of the detail which promotes a grudging loyalty towards you and keeps your properties full and happy.
Want to know more about keeping your HMO tenants? Also worth reading:
- Happy HMO Tenants – And How to Keep Them That Way
- What Makes An HMO Successful
- Keeping Your HMO Looking Lovely