Because I clearly did something very wrong in a previous life, in this one I have been reincarnated as a buy-to-let landlord. In addition to most of the world (especially Mumsnet and The Guardian) automatically assuming I’m a wealthy slumlord, personally preventing the youth of today from getting on the property ladder, I also have the many joys of dealing with tenants, contractors, and the fucking H-fucking-M-fucking-R-fucking-C who make it their mission to a) make it as difficult as humanly possible to work out how much tax I owe them b) make it nigh-on impossible to actually pay that tax and then c) try to fine me for not being able to read their mind about how much tax I owe them, because they refused to tell me that, because it’s sensitive information. Actually, the HMRC might be a blog for another time.
I should start by saying that (touch wood) all of our tenants at the moment seem lovely, capable people. In the past we have often rented to very young tenants and/or students, and when I am running short of other blogs to bring you, I have decided to describe a Ridiculous Tenant for your delectation.
My favourite property (we only have four, so that perhaps sounds grander than it is) is a one-bedroom flat in Bethnal Green, East London. It’s a spacious-enough flat for the area, but very much designed for one person, or a couple. I love it because it was the first property I ever bought, and lived in it myself for five years, so I know it inside out. Here is a genuine conversation I had with a tenant of said flat a few years back:
Tenant: I think there is a problem with the boiler.
Me: *alarm bells ringing – boilers are expensive* Oh no, what’s the problem?
Tenant: There is never enough hot water.
Me: Hmm, that’s an odd one – so it heats up the water every day, but not enough water? (I check at this point that the hot water timer was set to continuous – which it was.)
Tenant: That’s right. Me and my girlfriend both like to have a 30-minute shower each in the morning, and it usually runs out halfway through the second shower.
Me: So you’re running the hot water continuously for 45 minutes before it runs out?
Me: That’s the problem – this water tank here is not really designed for that amount of water.
Tenant: Yes, but this water tank here *indicates boiler* isn’t filling up properly, I don’t think.
Me: That’s the boiler.
Tenant: No, it’s a water tank. *Begins to mansplain boilers to me – this from the guy who needed help changing a lightbulb two weeks earlier*
Me: No. It’s a boiler. See? Here is the “on” button. The problem is that the water tank isn’t really big enough for a whole hour of a power shower being operated.
Tenant: Will you please replace the water tank then, with a bigger one?
Me: That would involve replacing the entire system – it would cost about £3000, and to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Tenant: But we can’t take a 30 minute shower each in the morning… and we would like to. Are you sure that’s a boiler? It looks like a water tank to me.
It was a fucking boiler. I did not replace the water tank. The same tenant asked me to call out a plumber because he “couldn’t find the ‘sweet spot’ between warm and cold on the mixer tap”. On Easter Sunday. And locked himself into the bathroom. The bathroom, I should say, didn’t have a fucking lock.
There are lots of fuckings in this post. Sorry.