Friday, 11 January 2008

The Landlady

I am a landlady by default. It happened like this. When I met Himself, he lived on a fishing boat and I lived in a cottage in Devon. When we realised that we were going to make this a permanent arrangement we rented a bungalow in Falmouth and I let the cottage. Just in case things didn’t work out. (My late grandmother once said to me, “darling, always have a bolthole”.

Two years on I sold the cottage (at a profit) and bought the flat we live in now which was a wreck. Nothing had been done since the 1950s when the former occupant had moved in, so you can imagine what it was like.

We gutted it and did it up ourselves (hard work but meant we saved money and could do things as we wanted) and then the upstairs flat came on the market. Himself suggested to my mother that it would be a good investment for her, so she bought it and as it was let to holidaymakers, I ran that side of it for her.

When the top flat came up for sale Himself persuaded me to buy that, so I did.

When I took over the flats, they were both let as holiday lets – the business came with the sale. So I took all the bookings and did all the administration. I was then working full time and doing changeovers at the weekends. This meant that every Saturday was spent cleaning and washing, hoping to god that it wouldn’t rain so I could dry the bedding outside – we don’t have a tumble dryer and the nearest launderette is some way away. By Sunday I was knackered, but we could never go away at weekends because of the business.

After that first summer I decided to let to long term tenants so I advertised in the local paper and got no one. I panicked. A week later our first tenant turned up, courtesy of an ad in our local Tesco.

He was in his twenties, very bright and charming and worked for one of the big hotels in Falmouth. He was dyslexic (I’ve kept all his notes which still bring a lump to my throat) and painted the flat very strange colours with what seemed to be indelible paint. (After he left it took weeks to restore the flat to some semblance of normality, or at least something that I could let again.) Lesson Number One – don’t let tenants paint the place unless they agree to restore it to the original colour before they leave. And if they’re not good at painting, make sure they pay for someone to do it properly.

I’ll never forget one of his referees was the receptionist at the hotel he worked at. Where it says Occupation, she wrote, “Receptionist. Good one.” (That still brings a smile to my face.)

I often wondered what happened to him. He was ambitious and evidently good at his job and he went off to work for one of the big London hotels. Last heard, he was desperately trying to find any accommodation he could afford: one week’s rent there was the same as a month’s rent here.

But I’m sure he will have done well. And who knows, if we won the lottery one day, we might be in a London hotel and there he would be. I’d like that.

24 comments:

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Awwww, he sounds like a real sweetie.

Flowerpot said...

zinnia - yes he was!

julia said...

It's hard to say goodbye to people - I seem to be in a constant state of missing loved ones, myself. I hope you do run into him in your travels someday.

Flowerpot said...

Julia - yes it would be good. Who knows?!

Akelamalu said...

If you turned up at the hotel where he's a receptionist you could find yourself upgraded to a suite!

Ellee Seymour said...

I wish I was a landlady, I have no pension to speak of and it would be good security to own another property.

I hope he is doing well, that his dyslexia has not held him back. My eldest son is dyspraxic, so I do know something of these difficulties.

Sweet Irene said...

My son had some form of dyslexia. He was a very good reader, but a very bad writer. He got all of his letters mixed up and wrote very sloppy and his math skills were very bad.

I hope your young man made a success of himself and I hope you run into him again one day.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I'd be really interested in hearing about some of your landlady experiences. My folks own a rental house near me that I kind of oversee for them and it's a stinking lot of work. And people are very rarely what they seem - glowing references or not.

It's always a crapshoot.

laurie said...

what a nice story!

you made me like him.

and i'd love to have you be my landlady. i promise not to paint my flat in outlandish colors.

Miss Understood said...

As I spend most of my working days cleaning up the mess which council tenants leave behind, I can relate to this! He sounds lovely though. I hope you bump into him one day and see what became of him.

Lane said...

You must ae quite a few landlady tales.

I wonder what happened to the nice tenant?

Flowerpot said...

Ak - He was rather more highbrow than a receptionist, but perhaps he could have a word in her ear!!

ellee - no neither of us have a pension either so the flats are our joint pension.

sweet irene - how is your son now? I'd be interested to know.

Flowerpot said...

rc - some more landlady stories coming later. YOu're quite right, people are rarely what they seem. We've had some horrific experiences. And some good ones of course.

laurie - he was a good tenant to start off with. A gentle learning curve! YOu sound like a great tenant!

Flowerpot said...

MissU - yes I'm sure you're seeing things from my point of view, so to speak! But most of our tenants havent been as bad as students - that's another horror story!

lane - yes I have lots of landlady stories. More to come!

Philipa said...

Ellee makes a good point about pensions I think fp which reminds me of the discrimination against housewives who choose to work in the home. I know we are all professional women (well I was..) but I think it grossly unfair to slight stay-at-home mums.

Flowerpot said...

philipa - yes I quite agree. Several friends of mine are in that bracket of not having paid enough stamp to get a state pension - not that you could live off it anyway. Grossly unfair. But there are moves afoot aren't there?

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I'm hoping I'll be a landlady one day as I'm thinking about a rental in the area. Have been for a while now but really need to suss out the tax situation of which frightens me to death.

Crystal xx

Philipa said...

fp - ah, well that's good news, I must brush up on that (had my head stuck in 1793 recently).

I bet you're the best landlady :-)

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

FP, have you tried Googling his name? You never know, it might come up.

Flowerpot said...

crystal - re the tax - rental is just added onto whatever else you earn. Depends whether it';s in your name or joint names. the Inland Reve are very helpful if you ask them.

philipa - not sure how the moves are going to help most of us but its a start....

AOJ - that's an idea. Im ight just do that!

Katherine and Pippa, said...

Rental stuff- Yeah we've done that too. They sub-let, and they run a nursery, and they whinge and moan.

But I've been a tenant as well and painted the woodwork a vile red I have to acknowledge.

No more rentals for us for now. Unless we buy in the same block of flats. It's the best way to do it.

Katherine.

Flowerpot said...

K & P - I was a tenant for many years in London and a sure I was a terrible tenant!

MarmiteToasty said...

I have no flats for me pension, Im just gonna have to go on the game and hope I make more then me busfare home :)

Hope the lad has landed on his feet somewhere good....

x

Flowerpot said...

marmite - I'd try that but there's no way I'd earn enough money...!