Either I was kidnapped by aliens and given a lobotomy in my sleep, or I must have had what my grandmother used to call “a funny turn” because a few weeks ago, I agreed to let a flat to a group of second-year students, ignoring all the horror stories I have heard about undergraduates turning properties into pigsties.
I was probably swayed by the fact that this bunch weren’t too shabby and they seemed mature for their age. Despite the fact that during the viewing I only got the briefest glimpse of their faces, which were almost permanently planted in their mobiles — they just nodded occasionally when I spoke to them and said the odd “Uh-huh” — I didn’t get the impression they were the sort to throw wild parties.
If I am honest, I was probably also seduced by the fact that the girls were not much older than my own daughter, who will be looking for accommodation when she goes to university in the next couple of years. I suppose I was thinking that if I expect a landlord to accept her as a tenant, then I should be prepared to take a punt on this lot.
Or maybe I was just being lazy. They were the first to view, the first to put in an offer and I thought, what the heck, I’m sure it will be fine.
I was encouraged that they immediately handed over a holding fee and they were quick to send me references and details of their guarantors. The students paid their first month’s rent a few days before they moved in, and on check-in day they turned up almost on time.
However, their second payment failed to materialise on the due date. Now, that’s not unusual as tenants often forget to fill out the standing order for their bank in all the excitement of moving. So rather than going into full panic mode, I just emailed them a friendly reminder. They replied saying something along the lines of: “Oh yeah, we thought we’d wait for you to ask.”
Did they hope that I wouldn’t notice and they would have more cash for fags? This somewhat casual approach to the rent started to make me twitchy.
Then, when the payment did hit my account, it was more than £100 short. “Sorry,” they emailed, “we haven’t got the full amount.”
Just like that. It’s as though they thought that paying the rent was optional, a bit like attending lectures.
I suppose I should be grateful that at least they paid the bulk of what they owed, albeit after a bit of prod, but they haven’t bothered to reply to my email asking if and when they will pay the rest. I will wait to see what happens next month, but the fact that they have slipped into debt right at the start of the tenancy doesn’t give me high hopes that the next year will be plain sailing.
I didn’t take a deposit from them — I’m blaming that on those aliens, too — but I did insist their parents guaranteed their rent, so if future payments aren’t made in full and they start to build up a significant debt I will have to write to their mums and dads to ask that they make up the shortfall. I would hate to have to do that, but I guess that as the guarantors signed the tenancy agreement they knew what they were letting themselves in for.
Still, hopefully it won’t come to that. Hopefully this lot will get their finances sorted and they will prove that students, even the young ones, can make decent tenants.
I am sure there will be more of this story to tell you later.