With half term finally over (which school managed to stretch to a 10 day break) and the children back to learning how to be decent, upstanding citizens, I’ve turned my attention back to HMOs. My tenants aren’t so well behaved that they stopped locking themselves out of rooms or remembered to pay on time and I’d let my passable organisational skills slip over the holiday, but I’ve bounced back with a whip in one hand and a To Do list in the other.
First to screw up his new tenancy is Andrew. He was the tenant that I predicted to bite me on the bum after being recommended by his work colleague as a suitable tenant for my emotionally rejected but testosterone fuelled lads’ (actually middle aged men) house. Youngest of them all he soon played the foster child card as an excuse for not knowing how to wash up, flush the loo or realising that revealing your boxer shorts whilst your trousers are tied precariously under your bottom cheeks isn’t a great look when going for a job interview.
Last week he said he’d left his rent for me to collect but my son decided to have a massive tantrum during the rent collection round which meant I was distracted and was so busy dragging him out of the house that I forgot to go into Andrew’s room. By the time I went back a couple of days’ later it had been spent. Taking some blame for my folly, I agreed for him to leave 2 weeks the following Saturday (£180). Then I forgot again that I was away (took the Sleeper train to Scotland – great trip) and collected all rents a couple of days later by which time there was, of course, no money. To his credit, he called me into his room, looked up at me with his big, brown eyes, quivering lip and a little tear to add to the effect and confessed to having gambled away £400 on fruit machines the previous week.
Where To Go From Here?
Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve come across this addiction so was able to restrain myself from “Do you know how many shoes/supermarket shops/meals for starving children that money could have bought?” and sternly reminded him that his future was in his hands – go into arrears and get legally evicted or pull yourself together, stop thinking I’m a soft touch and be grateful you actually have a job (albeit a somewhat dodgy one). Followed by a therapy session, which normally makes grown men cry, he promised to contact Gamblers Anonymous and pay £250 this Saturday. In the meantime, there is little I can do but have a little faith in him as he’s still in his fixed term period and give him a good talking to which he takes with dignity. He then went off to pawn his iPad after telling me he didn’t want to end up like his two brothers who’d spent most of their young lives in and out of prison.
Now, I’m not being unsympathetic about the boy/man’s plight (he’s 22 but looks 17) but just because I’m a woman tenants who have developed chaotic lifestyles following their disruptive upbringings always seem to play the “woe is me, nobody has ever loved me” card. It’s probably true which is how they’ve learnt to say what they think I want to hear in the hope that I’ll feel sorry for them. I used to cave in but now remind them and myself it’s a tough world out there and with a bit of support it’s possible to survive.
Talking of survival, I have serious doubts over this tenant’s chance in the natural world:
Marco (Polish sommelier for a 5* hotel) “Can you look at my light. It come, it go, I think it very dangerous”. Dispatched the builder who made the mistake of hanging around for too long while I took the call and he reported back “It’s the bl**dy bulb! Couldn’t you have done it?”. Nope, I’m too busy unlocking rooms and providing free therapy sessions.