Ever since these four students moved into my flat over the summer they have consistently failed to pay their rent on time and in full, and have ignored my emails and text messages asking them to pay up.
The first month after they moved in they paid their rent a week late — after I had sent them a reminder — and it was more than £100 short. When I emailed to ask where the rest was, they didn't bother to respond.
The next month I got an email from one of the tenants saying he would be away for a few weeks, and therefore he would not be paying his rent. I replied to say that in that case, I would not be keeping his room for him.
He paid, in the end, but there was still no sign of the missing £100-plus from the previous month.
On their third month in the flat, one tenant paid her rent in full, on time, which was great. Another paid almost the full amount, which was not quite so good. Two paid nothing at all, which was annoying. There was no sign of the outstanding £100 from the first month either.
I emailed all the tenants asking for the payments to be brought up to date. Three of them ignored me, again, and the fourth explained she was waiting for a student loan to come through, so I agreed to give her another couple of weeks. The two weeks went by, but she still didn't pay.
The following month I didn't receive any rent, nor the arrears from the previous months. At that point I considered asking TalkTalk to disconnect their wifi, which I pay for.
Ha, I thought, that should get a reaction. I frequently switch off the wifi at home to get my kids' attention, and I find it works every time. However, I decided that was too mean. Who knows, young people might shrivel and die if they are disconnected for too long from their cyber lifeline.
Instead I sent yet another nudgenudge email asking for payment by the end of the week.
Friday came and went — and still nothing.
By the following Monday, I was fuming. I fired off seriously angry emails to all the tenants saying that unless they paid their rent, plus the arrears, by the end of the day I would be calling their guarantors. That almost did the trick. But not quite.
Three of the tenants, who clearly didn't want me having a chat with their parents, paid up immediately, but the fourth called to say she didn't have the cash.
It wasn't her fault, she whined, it was something to do with a delay processing her student loan. She said she would have the money "in a few weeks".
I might have given her more time to pay if she and her flatmates hadn't already been so random with their rent, but I had run out of patience.
I told her that unless all of the rent was paid by the end of the day I would call every one of the guarantors to ask them to pay me directly in future.
I also said that if any of the rent was late again I would start eviction proceedings.
That last bit was probably a bit harsh, but I had started to think these youngsters were metaphorically — maybe even physically — sticking two fingers up at me.
She paid up and the next month all the tenants paid, almost on time. Will they get better? Only time will tell...
Victoria Whitlock lets three properties in south London. To contact Victoria with your ideas and views, tweet @vicwhitlock Find many more homes to rent at homesandproperty.co.uk/lettings