The accidental landlord:shelve your prejudices to find the ideal tenant

The accidental landlord discovers that gender is no guide to cleanliness...

As we parted on the doorstep, my tenant said: “Hopefully I’ll never see you again,” which would have seemed a bit unfriendly, had he been moving out and had no reason to expect our paths to cross in future.

However, he was just moving in and I wasn’t the least bit offended — in fact, the feeling was mutual. He was just letting me know that he didn’t want me fussing around invading his privacy and, for my part, I hadn’t the slightest inclination to go near the property while he was there, other than to swing by maybe once every six months to check that everything was okay.

My ideal tenant is someone I never see, someone I never even hear from during their tenancy, who never complains, who never asks me to lift a finger. I have no idea if this chap will turn out to be ideal, it’s early days. But so far he is thinking along the right lines.

£2,000 a month: this bright, three-bedroom flat in a period terrace in Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace, is available to rent through iMove

My first ever tenant was, like this one, a single, twentysomething male. I freaked out when the letting agent sent me his details. “Can’t you find me someone else? I don’t want to let to a young, single guy, he’ll probably trash the place,” I told the young, probably single, male letting agent.

Fortunately, the agent convinced me to shelve my prejudices and the bachelor turned out to be as good as gold. He contacted me only once in 12 months, to ask me whether his new girlfriend could move in, and a year later they moved out and left the flat pristine.

I have let to several bachelors since, and they have all been great. One guy left the flat a bit dirty but as he had sorted out a faulty boiler, saving me the cost of calling out a heating engineer, and also repaired a leaking tap all on his own, it would have been churlish to complain about a bit of grime. No, I haven’t really got any complaints about the overall behaviour of my male tenants.

Girls, on the other hand… don’t get me started. I currently have two girl-only flats and, my goodness, they are mucky. I went to one of these flats to replace some blown light bulbs that the tenants (apparently) couldn’t reach, and in a bedroom I had to tiptoe my way through plates of congealed food. It wasn’t even as if I had dropped by and surprised the girls — I made an appointment. Yet they still did not clear up.

I wouldn’t go into the bathroom there as I was not wearing a surgical mask, and just don’t ask me about the kitchen. So gender is no clue to cleanliness.

Their living like pigs is a real problem when you have to re-let and show prospective new tenants around while the old, slutty ones are still in your property.

I am sure it will be impossible to re-market my flats while the girls are still in situ. Though I might drop in a couple of pairs of Marigolds for them — I live in hope.

  • Victoria Whitlock lets four properties in south London. To contact Victoria with your ideas and views, tweet @vicwhitlock


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