Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Share The Joy

Renting is horrible. I am fed up with bad news, and it’s going to get a lot, lot worse in the next year, with benefit caps biting and that dreaded incoming spare room tax. I wanted to be positive, and therefore thank a recent correspondent for this story:

‘After 18 years of being treated like "rental scum", I've finally found a good one. The flat I'm renting belonged to my LL's mum, who passed away nearly a decade ago. So she's not in it for the money. I found it on Gumtree (I know!), and thought it sounded too good to be true (at least £200 pcm less than other flats in the area, idyllic canalside spot with a gorgeous park on the other side of the water), but after 2 months of seeing overpriced hovels through agents, I decided to risk the cauldron of crazy that is Gumtree.’

Lovely turn of phrase for describing G******. She goes on to list why her landlady is ‘awesome’:

’She had the entire flat repainted before I moved in. She also left a bottle of wine and a welcome card on the dining table.

- When I mentioned I had my own bed, she immediately offered to put hers into storage. (I rented this place furnished. When I started renting 18 years ago, unfurnished places seemed to be more common, but now it's the opposite. Up until now I've either had to give away or sell some of my lovely furniture at knockdown prices, or live with two of everything in an already cramped space.)

- The new kitchen cupboard doors Sarah had ordered were going to be a week late, and the shower needed replacing, so on the day I moved in, she gave me a cheque for one week's rent. I tried to tell her that it really wasn't a big deal, most landlords wouldn't have bothered replacing them at all, and the shower seemed to work fine when I'd tested during the flat viewing, but she wouldn't hear of it.

- She happily allows pets. She offers to come round and feed my 2 cats if I go on holiday.

- When I locked myself out of the flat on a Tuesday morning in my nightgown, she sent a friend round in a taxi with a spare key (she was on holiday in Europe at the time). She wouldn't let me reimburse her for the taxi. "It's all part of the service."

- She was over the moon when I had the cream carpets professionally cleaned. "But that's my responsibility. It's my carpet." she said.

- When the previous tenants suffered a break-in, she had an alarm system installed, at her own expense, the following week.

- I've been here nearly 2 years, and she hasn't raised the rent. She could easily get more for this flat, particularly as this area has become more popular in the past 2 years.

I could go on, but there are some good landlords out there. Of course, it did take me 18 years to find one.’

My own landlady is also humane and understanding. She solved my water pressure nightmare by installing a shower (she is a reluctant landlady – blighted by negative equity and must sit tight for at least another five years, I reckon, so she’s broke.) She used up her bank of relative favours, and they were sometimes late or didn’t show, but I have a shower now. As a thank you for waiting, she sent a package of lovely smelly stuff.

The only problem (for her) is this: the letting agents are eating up a massive percentage of her income, despite which she has arranged all the repairs, as she can’t afford to use their contractors. The agents seem to maintain that despite answering my water pressure queries only after I had signed the lease with an ‘but it’s always been like that,’ they are insisting wrongly they not liable. In the meantime, I carry on with minor repairs, and don’t bother her unless its necessary.

But the water pressure was dealt with amicably, proof that we all benefit when landlords and tenants do their best to cooperate. Let’s not fight. Letting agents on the other hand…


Mediocrity511 said...

It's lovely to hear some positive tales. After a complete nightmare of a rental (for which we are still going through the small claims court for) we seem to have fallen on our feet. Common to your post, the key seems to be that no letting agents are involved. The flat is cheap for what it is and some bubbles in the wallpaper suggest that come winter damp may be a problem. But, when we moved in, we found 2 huge dehumidifiers in the airing cupboard. The damp seems to be located above the washing machine, so hot, steamy laundry was probably a major cause, which is nt something LL can really prevent. But how lovely is it that he's taken proactive steps to stop a problem occurring, instead of waiting for complaints?!

Sazzle Dazzle said...

I've been a reader of your blog for a while and wanted to share my positive landlord story, but given all the rubbish others are having to deal with I wasnt sure when would be a good time - on this post seems a good one :)

I'm a first time renter, after moving out of home at the ripe old age of 24. I found it through an Estate agent but other than the initial fees; everything is directly through my Landlord who is a genuinely nice bloke!

To use his words "I want someone that will look after the house, and in return I'll look after them" And has he ever! "I need a shower" "No probs" - installed within a week (even putting it extra high at my request to accommodate for my at the time partner who was 6'5"!) he merely smiled and fitted a door knob to the busted mirror wardrobe door which I covered in superglue trying to fit my own handle.

In my first week when I blew a fuse - thought I'd "broken" the electrics and called him in a panic he talked me through it calmly even though he was at work, and when I waited in for him to fix something and he got stuck in traffic he then drove me to work before going back to fix the problem.

"Can I paint the walls?" Sure!
"Can I get a cat?" Go for it!

Although a few people have commented that they think my rent is a little high for the area I disagree - its a beautifully looked after flat with an amazing landlord - he deserves the rent and I'm more than happy to pay it knowing I'm looked after.

(BTW I'm not a complete moron - I just sound like a total klutz when those stories are told back to back!)

RenterGirl said...

Both are great stories, but it's telling that we all find helpful landlords/ladies unusual. I've had some amazing landlords. Letting a place involves dealing with a human being, not a new sourse of vandalism/pestilence. It's great to hear landlords going the extra mile when tenants slightly screw up (we are all human) and being understanding about treating the property they pay to rent out as a home, not a fragile porcelain piggy bank. I have written about this before, and will do again.

Alice said...

I've been renting for a few years here in London, well, long enough to be fed up with the landlords obnoxious attitude and the final inspection-deposit scam! The last final inspection we've been through was a joke, a man counting down invisible scuff marks on the...CEILING of an horrible, old stinky flat which was last decorated two decades ago. Landlords and letting agents look at tenants as purely numbers/performing assets and not human beings. Landlord often choose managing companies to deal with individual tenants because they feel uncomfortable dealing with the 'human beings they are exploiting'.
Well of course there are exceptions but this is pretty much the scenario, especially if you are living in London. I think this is what it prompt me to start buying properties. Not for myself but to rent them out to young professionals and 'reinvent' the whole tenant/landlord relationship.
my first project was this lovely house in Muswell Hill and while we were still remodelling we had to take tenants in while still living in the property. I had never done this before and therefore I was a little nervous but reality is...it was the best way to get to know my tenants/customers and bond with them. To cut a long story short, we (hubby and I) are invited to all their parties!!!We went the extra mile selecting the best possible tenants and NOT in terms of how much they earn, but more in terms of personality - the human being side. Well, that is the best reference check a landlord can possibly wish for.
After that first rewarding experience we realised the shared accommodation was desperate for a change. And there could be opportunities. We have now started our own company and have a small porfolio of boutique properties which are always snapped up within 24hours, but the best thing, once again, is being appreciated, being praised, being considered a friend by your own customer (tenant).