Readers may recall – and those who do not may refresh their memories here should they so wish – that the Kickass Canada Girl and my very first scheme for moving to British Columbia – even before she was offered the job there – involved us moving out of our home in Buckinghamshire into rented accommodation, selling our apartment, purchasing a property in Victoria, letting it and then using the income to cover our rent in the UK until such time as we could move to Canada. The chief purpose of this little scheme was to enable us to leave the UK quickly when the time came and to have a property ready and waiting in BC on our arrival there.
As will be clear by now neither this nor any of our subsequent schemes worked out at all as planned. When it became apparent that we were not to be able to sell our apartment in short order we had to re-think. Rather than move back to Buckinghamshire we decided to seek a tenant to occupy the property and thus to cover our rental costs until such time as we were able to find a buyer. This was, after all, exactly what we were planning to do in Victoria – so where was the difference?
Well! All I can say is that the experience of our first year as landlords (or more properly as landlord and landlady) may well have put us off the whole notion for life! Nor does it does take much research on the InterWebNet or elsewhere to establish that anyone who lets property for any length of time ineluctably accrues their own horror stories. We just have to hope that our inchoate experience was anomalous and that our next time round will prove more propitious.
We seem to have suffered a particularly infelicitous run of bad luck when it comes to expenses. The Girl and I had spent a considerable amount renovating the apartment over the previous few years, which enterprise had included the installation of a complete new kitchen designed to a high standard by my brother – who makes his living thus. He is not cheap but he is very good!
Imagine my consternation, therefore, when – over the course of the year – I was obliged to:
- replace the fridge/freezer
- spend a considerable amount on oven repairs
- call an engineer on several occasions to fix the washer/dryer
- purchase a new control module for a gas fire
- arrange for the ailing heating system to be looked at on more than one occasion.
This latter culminated in the eventual failure of the boiler (‘furnace’ – for Canadian readers!) requiring a complete – and expensive – replacement.
As though all of this were not enough our initiatory tenant proved to be a total nightmare. Quite apart from demanding a rent rebate whenever the slightest thing went amiss, this lessee eventually seemed to absent himself entirely from the property, only to be replaced (according to reports from our erstwhile neighbours) by a friend of his to whom he was ‘lending’ the apartment (the lease prohibiting him from sub-letting it). Our former home was thus now being lived in by someone of whom we had no knowledge or information at all, and who proceeded to upset the neighbours with noisy late night comings and goings and – ignoring our blandishments to the contrary – by smoking out of the windows. Matters eventually reached the point at which we were obliged to give the appropriate notice and the tenant – and his friend – finally moved out just before Christmas.
That was not – sad to say – the end of the matter. The tenant – whom we believed to be a very ‘house-proud’ fellow – had on taking up the lease enquired as to whether he could redecorate some of the rooms in neutral tones. We had no objection to this and at the end of the year were expecting to get the apartment back in good order. We were, therefore, upon receiving the check-out report from our management company, stunned to discover that the tenant had – without any consultation! – replaced a perfectly good neutral toned carpet in one of the bedrooms… with a black one!
Astonishing!! What sort of behaviour is that?!
As I write there are decorators and carpet-layers in the apartment restoring everything to a sensible state with a view to attracting fresh tenants. The cost of all this will hopefully – following the usual haggling, horse-trading and possibly arbitration – be recovered from the tenant’s deposit. I have no doubt that he will fight every inch of the way – because that is just the sort of unreasonable man that he is.
It takes – clearly – all sorts!