Happy New Year and welcome to a first globally bumpy week of 2015! The events around the world over Christmas and the last few days have certainly put any trivial issues I have into perspective.
At 11.30pm on Christmas Eve, whilst digesting the contents of Swedish Christmas Eve dinner and discussing the origins of Elk meatballs, the phone rang to say one of the tenants was locked out. It was minus 10 degrees where I was so I felt sorry for them, phoned a friend who was holding the keys, organised re-entry only to discover in the meantime the tenant had rung the doorbell and, lo and behold, someone bothered to let her in. Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be too reactive.
A few days later, I was enjoying a bit of TV catch-up Downton Abbey by the fire when a tenant called at 10pm which I ignored and they could leave a message if it was urgent. His persistent ringing punctuated my daydream of owning a team of domestic workers (Downton had THREE nannies, for goodness sake!) and I threw a coat over my pyjamas to head down to the house. One very cold night, two police cars, four bored policeman, a tenant clutching an arm, another sobbing in her room and a howling, ranting Portuguese called Amaro banging around in the back of one of the police cars.
Amaro’s girlfriend, Kalina, was 30 minutes late home from work and he was waiting for her. According to him, she’d been shagging everyone at the hotel where she worked which led to a huge row and he threw the TV and other items in the room at her. The tenant above asked them to keep the noise down so he assaulted him as well, that’s when the police were called.
He was charged, released on bail the next day and we caught up with him. Luckily his bail conditions state that he cannot have contact with either Kalina or the other tenant which, in an HMO, is impossible to uphold so we negotiated his departure with him. When we asked why he did it he said “I love her. We were not arguing, Portuguese are passionate people so when we talk we sound like we argue. I even got arrested once for talking on mobile phone as the police thought I was being aggressive”. So, if you wondered what the police are doing for their money, they’re rounding up passionate Europeans on the street declaring angry undying love.
On a serious note, I’ve had a 50% success rate with couples. Yes you can achieve a higher room rate for two of them, but they fall in and out of love, shout at each other down the corridors e.g. “Wanna cup of tea, luv?” and, if they argue, the whole bl**dy house knows about it and which one do you ask to leave? By the time you’ve sorted it out, they’ve invariably made up until the next time. Amaro’s bail conditions decided his fate for him.
I have another Portuguese couple who claim they’re sisters and happy with a double bed even though I’ve offered to put in two singles. They’re very sweet to me, but I know they tend to throw their weight around the house and surreptitiously bully other female tenants, although this is subjective and I haven’t witnessed it. If they were blokes, they’d probably throw a few punches and be done with it.
Make Music in 2015
If you’re bored of chasing your 2015 Property Dreams how about making a £million selling music instead?
As my days are spent either pouring oil on tenant’s troubled waters, staring down a blocked plug hole or fulfilling dreams of finding tenants their perfect room, I decided last year I needed to get out more. I joined Toastmasters International to exercise my brain and expand my social skills by meeting other people from far more interesting professions. A prominent member of the Club is one half of The Batchelors, Dec Cluskey (for those of you under 45, they were the original boy band in the 60s). He speaks, he writes, he manages other bands and, get this for active retirement, he still gigs around the country with his brother churning out hits to his albeit aging but still enthusiastic fans. So, if you’ve got a latent creative streak and would rather try your hand at making it in the music business give him a call – he’s far easier to deal with than HMO tenants.