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Caroline, The Wicked Witch of my HMO

Last year Caroline, a lady of mature years, joined the HMO having appeared out of nowhere – been living abroad, no visible means of income and no next of kin or family. I thought she’d be a good influence in my house of testosterone fuelled “boys” and might calm them down a bit (or at least show them the importance of putting the loo seat down).

Almost as soon as she moved in her interrogation of each tenant and interfering opinions raised the boys’ hackles and they took to phoning me surrepticiously from outside the house to complain about her.  The main accusation being that she was a “plant” from the Social as she wanted to know what each of them did for a living and, god forbid, their surnames and ages!  I assured them that, having watched a recent programme about benefit fraud, that the Social were more likely to be sitting in unmarked cars outside the house decked in sunglasses, cheap jackets and holding a camera.  I was pretty sure that the Council budget didn’t stretch to actually putting their staff into shared housing (although not a bad idea?).  Did the boys have something to hide that I needed to know about?  After that they went quiet.

Suffice to say that, although she stayed for a year, she spent just about every rent collection appointment complaining about the other tenants’ activities from stomping around at 5am to rampant all night sex sessions.  I pointed out that, as she chose to live in a house of 20-40 year old single blokes -what did she expect?  We got on fine until the day she accused the others of being “cockbuddies” and ganging up against her.  I’m not sure what that term means but it points towards a certain comaraderie which is only on display  when one of them is being threatened by an outsider.

When she left in the summer this year she sent Tom a letter pointing out his shortcomings, accusing him of being a psychotic alcoholic and suggesting that he needed professional help.  He agreed with most of the points she made, we had a chuckle over the fact she was clearly mad and I would’ve left it until she wrote “and you’re taking advantage of a simple woman [me]”.

All was forgotten until we cleaned out Steve’s room over Christmas and found the following letters:

“Hi Steve

I don’t know what you said to Serena on Wednesday but thanks a million.  I have to say that Tom’s behaviour last Friday was pretty mild compared to some of the stuff I’ve had to listen to from him.  What really winds me up, though, is that he always accuses me of tweeting or texting Hmolandlady [not my real name!] which is something I never do – I try to avoid her.  He’s the one who is constantly contacting her to complain about other people in the household (usually me) and the silly woman believes him.

Cheers, Caroline”

There was another far more long winded letter following the incident of Tom attacking Steve and it finished:

“She said no one had told her that you were smoking pot, she’d walked in that morning and smelled it for herself.

She complained about the way you’d behaved the morning that she gave you notice.  I said it was because she’d woken you from a deep sleep.  She said that she’d be quite happy for you to stay in the house if you only phone her, said you wouldn’t do it again, etc.  She’s still paranoid about people who do pot but she’s even more paranoid about people smoking in the house and I suppose she’s got a point there.

So….there you are.  Please don’t leave this lying around where a certain person can find it”

Caroline”

I’d given her the benefit of the doubt, put the clashes down to age difference and told the lads to stop being neurotic.  I now realise she was pure poison to that house and upset more people than any unhinged drug dealer has ever managed to do.  Think I might just send the letter on to show her that I DID find it!

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Top 10 Things That WILL Happen When You Own An HMO!

Once you are the proud owner of your fully tenanted HMO, these are things you can guarantee will happen:

1. No-one will amit to breaking the toilet seat/shower hose/shower door.  However, it will be everyone else’s fault

2. Crockery, cutlery and glasses will disappear as quickly as you replace them – this can be blamed on the fictitious elves that are equipping their new home

3. Someone will use/smoke drugs and thinks you are being an old humbug when you object or, in my case, throw a complete wobbly

4. Someone will string you along about not being able to pay rent when, in reality, they’ve just blown it on a holiday/ new phone/ hot date

5. No one will think the damp patch on the ceiling, which grows bigger every day, is worth mentioning

6. Hall and landing lightbulbs and shades will mysteriously disappear as no one can be bothered to find the spares in the kitchen drawer

7. It’s no-one’s fault that the kitchen bin hasn’t been emptied for a week

8. Make good friends with a mattress supplier – you will need to replace them after most lets.  DO NOT TRY TO GUESS WHAT THE STAINS ARE!

9. You will be called late on a Saturday night from a tenant trying to speed dial a taxi/ takeaway/ girlfriend depending where you are listed in his phone book.  (I was once called at midnight by a tenant who described all the naughty things he was going to do to me once he got home from the pub.  He was mortified the next day as he thought he’d called his girlfriend as we share the same initial.  Until that point, I was rather flattered).

10. You will spend your spare hours redirecting post and bailiffs for ex tenants

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