Buy to Let & Letting

A Bad Day To Be A Landlord…

Today was not a good day.

I had been warned by the letting agent looking after my property in Derby that the property was a mess and the tenant lived like a pig.  They had issued letters for him to clean the property and the council had been called out several times by neighbours as the yard was an environmental hazard (note always do as the council say otherwise you can get into a lot of legal trouble!).

The tenant was an elderly guy who was ill and who really needed to go into a home as he was unable to take care of himself. He had family who came to visit the house but they did more harm than good (think of an episode of Shameless and you know the sort of people we’re dealing with).  In fact, the family caused a whole lot more trouble than the tenant and the police were regularly called by the neighbours as the kids were fighting, setting fire to the sheds and climbing on the roof…

Finally after months of liaising with the council, serving notice and a load more paperwork the tenant was finally re-housed in council accomodation….

So it was time for me to re-enter the property:

Here is the lounge:

Now you may notice that the property is a bit of a mess from the above photos….

You may also notice the front door is propped up against the wall rather than being attached in the door frame. This is because the door has been kicked in and was off it’s hinges….

Here is the kitchen:

Which doesn’t look that bad…but believe me the build up of inch thick dirt is there…and OH MY GOD

I did not even have the courage to photograph the insides of the cupboards – there was milk that had been kept in the cupboard for months, bread that was so old and mouldy it had disintegrated into grey powder and the mould was growing all internally in the cupboards. There were plants for the garden that were growing at the bottom of one of the cupboards!!!

And then we go upstairs to the bedrooms:

And it really annoys me that amongst all these belongings the tenant couldn’t find something to use as an ashtray rather than the floor!

But then in all this mess I guess they never noticed….

Then we have the “bird disaster” I say that because I swear they have been doing some wierd rituals with birds – there were feathers everywhere and then sacks of bird feathers…and did I tell you about the dog he hid in his bedroom which had pood everywhere…

And then just when you think it can’t get any worse…

I am on the phone to the agent…I had had 2 women (one of whom looked out of her face on drugs) come to the property claiming to be his daughter-in-law and going mental about her son’s fishing net.   I was really quite dumb struck – you leave me a shit hole like this to clear up and you’re going mental about a bloody fishing net!!!!!

So there I am on the phone to the agent…and as we only had 3 hours for the skip I am having to move stuff while juggling with the phone.  And so I start dragging this chair across the room…and suddenly I am hit by the most unbelievably disgusting smell. It makes me instantly gag and I turn round to see I have just moved a commode which was full of human urine and feaces which I have just started to spill on the carpet.

The putrid smell is overwhelming and quickly floods through the house. Mick who is in the kitchen starts shouting at me and is then outside throwing up, Will is wretching and has fled outside.

I am stood there on my own with a full commode. SHIT! (literally) . I have to move fast.

I grab the commode and get it out in the street and quickly find a drain which I can pour it down.  I am desperately trying not to breath so that I don’t have to smell THAT smell.  The stench is all throughout the street and the house….

AND THEN….just when you think things couldn’t get any worse….

We find the skylights have been removed, the cold water tank has been removed, the immersion heater has been pinched along with the copper piping, and the lead to my kitchen roof has been nicked!

  1. Jon Butler

    Sorry to see that. It’s every landlord’s nightmare, only a bit worse. I’m stunned to think that people actually live like that.

    1. Sam

      The agency had carried out the usual credit checks etc and the tenant had passed. Unfortunately you do not know how someone lives unless you check that out prior to them moving in. I know some agencies vet tenants like this, but they are in the minority.

  2. Tony van Bergen

    Hi Sam

    I am not sure if this will help but I have just signed up to a system called http://www.tenantvet.net

    They are trying to build a database of these types of tenants so that we can all help each other avoid them.

    In this particular case it may be a little late but it may be something worth looking into for the future.

    Again, I am so sorry to hear about the mess. I speak from first hand experience of having a problem like this in a flat we own. I wanted to do unspeakable things to the little darlings!!!


  3. David GW Bartlett

    Hi Sam,

    I’m really gutted for you and your [ex-]tenant. 🙁

    Personally, I experience genuine trepidation as I’m entering a property at the end of a tenancy. To a much smaller extent, I’ve had to clear-up mess and fix-up damage and it feels just awful every time. It’s easy to say “it’s just business”, but it’s really hard to not become emotionally affected when you’ve worked hard to provide a great home at the start.

    My money’s on this guy being clinically depressed and in dire need of a social worker and mental health care. I believe no one wants or deserves to live like this, but the sad reality is that it goes on…

    Best of luck with the clear-up, I know you’ll work hard to restore it back to a great home for someone new and I hope that they have a better state of mind.

    Rgds, David

    1. Sam

      Thank you for your kind words David. It is important to try and detach yourself – I always say to myself while it maybe my house, it is a tenant’s home.

  4. Rich Greenland

    Jesus Mary Mother of God (and I’m not religious) that is one helluva mess. The photos can never do justice to the SMELL. I’ve been in some disgusting gaffs in my job but that is pretty bad. I admire your pluck!

    Someone, possibly Clottie, suggested I visit prospective tenants in their existing home to collect a refundable holding fee for the flat, it’s a great way to see how they really live.

    1. Rich Greenland

      It must be absolutely dreadful to find something like that. The deliberate vandalism which must run to 1000s. Especially if rain damage had been left unattended. It beggars belief that anyone could deliberately trash a house for probably less than £100 scrap. It’s probably no consolation, but imagine how much more devastating something like that would be to a small LL such as me with only one or two properties.

      How is the fix-up going?

      1. Sam

        The best thing is just to try and detach yourself (not easy) but it’s the only way of being able to sleep and be in this business! Still waiting for insurance to get back to me!

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