9:45 AM, 28th June 2012, About 10 years ago 5
If you’ve been reading my blog posts or run an HMO yourself, you’ll already know that the quest for affordable rooms is on the up. This is partly due to the changes this year in LHA for people aged 25-35 whereby councils will only pay for a room in a shared house and, over 35 years old they can claim for a one bed flat (if they’re lucky enough to find one at the LHA rate!). The increase in demand is also, in my opinion, due to tenants electing to have a life rather than work themselves to death to afford self contained accommodation and all that comes with it – Council Tax, utility bills, telephone, insurance, etc.
When I started over five years ago in HMOs, the main tenant market was DSS as it was then. They came armed with the paperwork, I liaised with the council on their behalf, rents were paid direct to me so it only left me having to deal with the odd drug dealing misdemeanour, failing alcoholic or explaining why it wasn’t OK to wake up at midday and party until the early hours.
How it’s all changed; I now have a waiting list of friends of tenants and, if I ever do put an ad in the paper, will receive calls from coherent, working people who don’t baulk at a month’s rent in advance and month’s deposit. I’m even getting calls from ex-tenants who are resorting to desperate measures:
Simon – left last year after I took over the HMO to live in myself and refused to be rehomed in another HMO because it was another 10 minutes walk to his local pub. Here’s our text conversation this week:
“Hi hun. It’s Si. Ave u any rooms available. Si the postman”
“Hi Simon. None at the moment but I have a friend with a bedsit available”
“Wat part of town gorgeous”
“Near the new Tesco. It’s clean and she’s a good landlady”
“U know I like u sexy hope u r well hun. If u need a man im here 4 u soz may ave gone 2 far”
As flirting goes it wasn’t quite as good as Jamie but it’s pretty much up there if I ever get desperate! A couple of days later I got a call from Lewis who left 6 months ago after falling in love.
“Hi Babe. I know I owe you £350 and I’m gonna pay you from my tax rebate. I need a room coz my girlfriend’s chucked me out. Can I have the one you’ve got free in my old house? I can’t wait to hear from you and I’ve missed you”
The room he was talking about was indeed free but as Lewis was such a lousy payer AND left owing money I’d decided to offer it to a tenant’s friend, George – a camp and very personable Czech who wanted to pay by standing order.
Jimmy was also dying to get his hands on the room. He was a friend of the previous incumbent and had turned down a room a couple of years ago. Big, brash, handy with his fists and pretty dismissive of me, he suddenly became my New Best Friend when he heard the room was about to be free and texted me every day to ask when he could move in “I’m honest, clean and am desperate as my landlord’s chucking me out” – actually, I’d heard he’d gambled away most of his earnings, was sleeping on a friend’s sofa and none of the other tenants in the house liked him.
It’s starting to become the accommodation version of a casting couch!
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