The accidental landlord:counts the cost of the DIY approach to installing a tenant’s washing machine

After trying to install a tenant’s washing machine herself to save £20, the accidental landlord counts the cost in crushed toes and wounded pride...

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Frankly, I hate spending money but I admit that sometimes it’s better to say “to hell with it” and splash out a little extra to save yourself a lot of bother.

When my student tenants told me that their old washing machine had died, I first tried the skinflint approach and paid a repair guy £30 in the hope that he could bring it back to life.

All I got for my money was confirmation that the machine was well and truly knackered.

I had no choice but to buy a new one. There’s no laundrette within walking distance of the flat and anyway, students are fussy these days, they kind of expect a fully functioning washing machine. Youngsters, eh?

I bought one from a large, well-known electrical retailer, even though from past experience it’s my opinion that their customer service is diabolical. They’re cheap and they offered free delivery — what more can I say?

However, I didn’t fancy paying an extra £20 for the installation. “I’ll do it myself,” I told my husband, cockily. “How hard can it be?”

Two days later, the cheap-but-unreliable retailer delivered a tumble dryer instead of the washing machine I’d ordered. The tenant who took the delivery pointed out the error but the delivery guy just dumped it in the hall and left.

I then wasted about an hour when I should have been working, trying to get through to the retailer’s inappropriately named customer service department. “Didn’t you want a tumble dryer?” asked the idiot who eventually answered my call.

By the time the driver returned with the correct machine, it was already early evening but I had promised the students a working washer that night and I didn’t want to let them down. Besides, being a mum, I was worried they wouldn’t have any clean clothes for college. So I abandoned my dinner and went straight round to plumb it in.

Unfortunately, the driver from the unreliable retailer had inconveniently left the machine by the front door, and I had underestimated how difficult it would be for a wimp like me to slide a heavy object the short distance to the kitchen.

In the end, it took me and two of the tenants to shove, heave and wiggle it into the room.

We then battled for about 15 minutes to break into the tough plastic packaging using a blunt kitchen knife, my car keys and a pair of tweezers. At least hooking the hose to the already-installed water pipe was child’s play, but then it took another 15 minutes for me and the girls to ease the machine into position under the worktop.

Breathless but triumphant we turned it on. Nothing. I’d forgotten to plug it in, and the wretched plug was at the back of the machine. We had to yank it out again.

Another 15 minutes, a couple of bumped heads and at least one crushed toe later we had it back in position and this time, when we turned it on — ta-dah! — it worked.

Back at home, I stubbornly told my husband it had all been a breeze. “It was easy-peasy,” I said. Then one of the tenants called to say the machine wasn’t working after all. It had made positive noises for a few seconds, then stalled.

“Did you turn the water pipe back on after you attached the hose?” asked my husband. I hadn’t. Defeated, I asked him to sort it out.

“I should have gone to John Lewis,” I told him sheepishly when he returned, heroic.

“Just pay for the installation next time,” he said, and then, to soften  the blow: “It’s probably tax deductable.”

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


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