15:23 PM, 30th March 2012, About 10 years ago 3
This article ponders on how tenant/landlord communication has changed over the years. It was sparked by a conversation with my daughter’s father over her seemingly rude texts last weekend.
Her: “Don’t forget my £5 next weekend”
Him: “Please don’t be so rude, I have your money and simply forgot to hand it to you on Sunday. Love you. X”
Him: “That’s OK, I wouldn’t have forgotten or spent it. Have a lovely week at school. Still love you. Dx”
I then received a call from her father asking why her texts were so abrupt and upset him by laughing “Well, you got more words out of her than me! When she responds to my texts it tends to be “Yea, No, Whatever, K (for OK)”” so he backed down and realised that teenage communication is very different from 30 years ago.
It’s the same with my HMO tenants; I send them a polite text whether it’s to find out who’s washing vast amounts of baby clothes (can’t find a baby anywhere and sure I’d have spotted anyone pregnant), if they could let the plumber in or to find out what happened to last week’s rent. If they respond at any length I have to wade through the predictive text (I’m for in, we’d for wed, etc.) and the atrocious spelling (gonna, sumfing, muney,) and re-read it just to get the gist. Gone are the days of apologetic or aggressive phone calls – it’s all done by text!
This morning I’ve learnt a lesson of my own about how I use my mobile. I have a cheap one from Tesco for £9.50 – it’s robust, unlikely anyone will want to nick it and I can just about see the text without finding my glasses. At 6.30am I left the eldest child in charge of getting the others up and went in search of petrol (as did everyone else in the town) and when I came back realised that I couldn’t find my phone anywhere. I’ve now been without it for precisely 4 hours and 35 minutes and I’m caught between the calm of not being interrupted every few minutes and angst at being unable to contact anyone – family/tenants/trades/hot dates.
Last night a tenant reported a blocked drain at one of the HMOs. Builder kindly went to investigate and it turns out that the sewer which serves the terrace is blocked all the way along. Called Southern Water who promised to dispatch an emergency team within the next couple of hours, the only problem is, they want my mobile number so the team can call me to be let in (I can’t ask any of the HMO tenants if they’ll be home today as I DON’T HAVE THEIR NUMBERS!!). I’ve given them the builder’s number instead who will then try to find me via the decorator or plumber, both of whom are currently working at my house.
What happened in days gone by? Perhaps we were more organised as Landlords and used the written word to chase rent, organise maintenance, or maybe the problem had subsided before the stamp was dry on the envelope. I’ll miss the usual Friday rush to explain why rents won’t be ready to collect tomorrow and am intrigued as to how the tenants react when I don’t get back to them for the next 48 hours. Perhaps they’ll learn to cope alone and exercise their problem solving skills – the obvious point of spotting my home number pinned to the communal notice boards!