The accidental landlord: well now - if you turn up the dial, the heating works
My newest group of tenants only moved in six weeks ago but I'm ready to throttle them. Sure, you normally get a few niggles at the start of each tenancy, when they are settling in and trying to suss out how things work, but this lot are truly doing my head in.
They're a nice, decent enough bunch and they'll take care of the flat and pay their rent, I'm sure of it. But it's a cheap maisonette and they seem to think it should be equipped like a Chelsea penthouse.
One of them asked me to change her mattress because it "smelt funny". I agreed to replace the entire bed because it was old and, I'll be honest, a bit saggy, but I'm certain the smell was her imagination.
Another girl asked me to change the filters on the cooker hood because when she peered through the grills (which involved twisting her body underneath) she could see some grease trapped inside. "Am I being picky?" she wanted to know. "Try anal," I thought.
They don't like most of the stuff in the kitchen and want me to remove it (okay), they'd like a new sofa (no), they don't like one of the lampshades (tough), and they think a doormat would be nice. "Tell you what," I'm tempted to say, "why don't I just lie down and you can walk all over me instead?" I suspect part of the problem is that only two out of four of them viewed the property before agreeing to rent it. The other pair didn't see it until they moved in and I think that it hasn't lived up to their expectations.
Normally, I refuse to let to people who haven't actually seen the flat, but I was assured by the first two that the others would like it. Clearly, they don't. However, I wouldn't mind if they'd got all of their gripes out of the way in one go, as soon as they'd moved in. It's the constant drip, drip of complaints and requests that's irritating. And the fact that they always jump to the conclusion that if something doesn't work, it must be broken.
The first time they tried to put the heating on, they called to say it wasn't working, could I go round and fix it? "Have you turned the boiler on, like I showed you?" No, they hadn't. The following evening they said the flat wasn't getting warm enough, could I go round to fix it? "Have you turned the thermostat up, like I showed you?" I asked. "Ah," they said. Then they wondered why the bedroom radiators weren't hot. "Have you turned the valves on?" I asked. "LIKE I SHOWED YOU?" Errr, no.
I always show tenants how to operate the heating, but they never pay attention and always call in a panic when the weather turns cold. I think I'll stick bloody big arrows on the walls pointing to the thermostat and valves.
I should have known this lot were hopeless the day they moved in and one got lost on the way. When I was daft enough to go and find him and offer to help carry his bags, he handed me a holdall so heavy it nearly snapped my collarbone. As I staggered up the hill, this strapping twentysomething moaned so much about the long walk that I yelled: "You could have got a cab, cheapskate!" — but only in my head. I was too breathless to speak. Perhaps if I had said it out loud, they wouldn't still be moaning now.