The Accidental Landlord

After giving in to a tenant's demand for shelves, our accidental landlord discovers that her generosity carries an unexpected price tag
Some landlords are happy to let their tenants redecorate, arguing that it saves them time and money, but personally I think it's a bit risky to let someone else's creative juices run all over your property. Even if you agree the colour scheme, is it safe to allow tenants to run riot with a pot of paint? I think not.

Tenants always ask if they can repaint what was once my daughter's bedroom (no one older than five likes lilac, apparently) and because I want them to think that I'm an understanding sort of landlord I say sure, go ahead - but only on condition that you repaint it when you leave. Needless to say they decide to stick with the lilac.

Other landlords I know think that by letting tenants stamp their own identity on a place, they'll stay for longer and some landlords even pay for the paint, but that's not my approach. Imagine my surprise then, when a tenant made some minor "home improvements" for which I was charged.

I had reluctantly agreed that this woman could put up some shelves in her bedroom, even though I was concerned that they would leave a mess of the wall if she took them with her when she left. I suggested she bought a free-standing bookcase instead but she insisted she wanted shelves. "Oh all right, go on then," I said, eventually. "As long as you leave them when you go or fill any holes."

Two days later she texted me to say she'd bought the shelves and wanted me to send someone round to put them up. Eh? At no point had I offered to lend a hand here. I called her and suggested, only suggested mind, that she asked one of the other tenants in the property if they could help.

The following week, when checking my bank account to make sure all my tenants had paid their rent, I noticed that one guy's payment was £15 short. I texted him to point out his mistake. No mistake, he said, that's the fee for putting up the shelves. D'oh.

As it was only 15 quid I let the matter go, but to prevent any future misunderstanding I've decided to confirm every conversation with tenants in writing so we're all clear on who's paying for what.

Talking about paying for stuff, now would be a good time to tell you that I've found what I think is possibly the cheapest handyman service in London. Landlords, I've found a company that charges only £24.95 per hour. Really, at that rate it's not worth doing any maintenance yourself, is it?

The company is called PTG Services ( and they offered a free estimate, unlike most of the other handyman outfits they don't charge call-out fees (which I hate) and they don't add VAT on top of their hourly rate (which I hate even more).

PTG provided a joiner to replace a bedroom door that was cracked, and even though the job took a little longer than the three to four hours they had quoted, they didn't charge me any extra. The joiner also picked up the new door to save me the trouble and I only paid the same price as buying it direct.

Of course nothing in (my) life is perfect and the tenant has just emailed to say the door needs adjusting slightly, but the joiner has promised to return asap.

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