9:00 AM, 19th October 2012, About 10 years ago 4
Part Three in HMOLandlady’s series of articles that started with Setting up an HMO from Scratch and Finding Tenants for an HMO. This week she shares her stories and frustrations at actually getting someone to turn up for an HMO viewing appointment.
It’s definitely been a week of no shows. Why are the people who answer the ads wasting my time and theirs? Why do they even bother to make an appointment ONLY HALF AN HOUR BEFORE and then not turn up? I just don’t get it, but therein lays one of the great mysteries of the HMO world.
I want this project to work: Two HMOs needing full refurbishment with ten rooms in total to sell and I want to prove that I know what I’m doing, but I have never experienced so many people flake out on me. You could say “Don’t book the viewings too far in advance” or “Interview properly over the phone”. I live round the corner so invariably make appointments as immediate as possible and subject callers to a grilling the Spanish Inquisition would be proud of.
First caller was Julian, a manager at our local Pound Store. He agreed to meet, didn’t turn up but did phone me 2 hours later to say he was lost. When I said “I should think so!” he put the phone down.
Next was Chris. He’s a student studying here 3 days a week and working in London the rest of the time. He failed to make the first appointment and phoned an hour later (no apology) to make another the following day. I was there anyway so agreed but he failed to make that one too. An hour and a half later he called to say he was coming round to see the room I replied “Chris, you couldn’t make 2 appointments to view or call me in time to rearrange. You’re now in a completely different part of town and want me to go back to the house to possibly or possibly not meet you again. Do you really, really think this is a good way to start and do you really, really think I’m going to trust you to pay rent when you can’t even remember to turn up? “ Chris’s response “Yeah, you’re probably right. Sorry.”
Next caller was Dave who kept telling me he was outside a shop in Boscombe and he’d seen the ad online. He sounded perfect so we arranged to meet but when I asked him why he said he was in Boscombe he replied because the ad said Bournemouth – 150 miles from me! I read and re-read the ad and it really, really didn’t mention Bournemouth AT ALL!
Next caller was Francesco, owner of a care agency looking to house his aunt as he’s picked up 5 care home contracts in the area and was using family to fill the vacancies. We met, I couldn’t find the keys because the builder still had them so we chatted and he agreed to bring her back after her shift at 8.15pm by which time I would have the keys. I took the kids to their swimming class, chased around the town pubs looking for the builder and my keys only to find out he was incommunicado in a therapy session; threw children home with instructions to get ready for bed, raced back to property, met psychologically sorted builder and waited, and waited and waited. Despite several calls to Francesco he didn’t turn up and I received a text the next day saying he’d found something else but had forgotten to let me know.
An applicant via text this time: Gareth sends me a lovely text telling me about all his good points. In fact it reads more like a response to a personal ad and I wondered whether he was actually looking for a date or a room. I called to have a chat – he said he’d sent the text because he’d run out of credit, wanted to come down our way from the Midlands to be nearer family and friends, was a 33 yr student and avoided telling me which subject he was studying but he was hoping to pick up a job in the next week.
Now, we’re by no means immune to the recession and jobs are as hard to come by as anywhere else. It’s a seasonal resort so we’re only open 6 months of the year and there’s little to no industry except supermarkets and care homes. When I asked him how he was going to get a rent and deposit together he said his partner would help. “Really? £200 deposit and £85 per week rent? That’s generous of them, how are you going to pay it back? “ Gareth replied “Er, I dunno but it’ll be alright. Can I have the room?”
And these are the ones I actually got to talk to. However, I’ve finally found 2 people who I think will fit into the house:
Glen – moving to be nearer his girlfriend but doesn’t want full on commitment until he’s known her a bit longer (sensible chap)
Tony – just split with his girlfriend, both were in paid for accommodation and he likes going to Holland a lot but assure me he’s not a drug runner. (Perhaps he’ll bring me a bunch of tulips one day).
So, at the beginning of the week this project had me reaching for the Job Vacancies section of our local paper but the only job I’d be qualified to do at my age would be the “Lettings Administrator – Up To 30 Hours a Week” position at an estate agent. Hold on, I already do that!!
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