"Don't part with your dreams - when they are gone you may still exist but you will have ceased to live" - Mark Twain

"Do you know that this blog wouldn't exist if it wasn't for you being here to read it!?" - Bobby Gill

Monday, 5 January 2009

Tales from the Crypt - The Landlord from Hell!

A piece of creative writing, is it really fiction or reality!? Read on... these tales will make you shiver more on a cold night in a winter, about the landlord from hell, who we'll call Freddy. This would have been great for Halloween but why wait for the frights! Some names may have been changed to protect the living...

Stories of gremlins in boilers, dead tenants, girls that think he's creepy and other things that go bump in the night.

Do you think you've had a nightmare of a day, hungover from the excesses of Christmas and back at work to do the daily grind? Here's the story of Freddy, who spent all Christmas in his cave hiding from the world as he stepped out into the first working Monday of the year to face the world as well.


The winds of the credit crunch had ravaged through 2008, mortgage payments were overdue for the month - but all that was going to be put behind him as he set out to collect his rent on this dark winter's day before getting on with his paperwork and accounts.

Gremlins in the Boiler

A boiler had packed in prior to Christmas, it had been a problem longer but the nice tenant hadn't reported it to the landlord. Why is it all boilers pack in around bank holidays and winter, especially Xmas. Was Santa a bad boy and British Gas put a curse on him and all the good kids with central heating? Now that Freddy was living in a central heated house as well, the calls to fix boilers didn't annoy him as much as in the earlier days of being a landlord. It had been a long time since he had to last show his tenants the cellar... and where the boiler was... to show them how to increase the pressure, his caretaker Damian took care of all that now.

The plumber, Jason had been out before Xmas and ordered some parts. A few days later he changed them but still no luck. This has been an on and off mission for 4 weeks and still no closer to fixing it. The now, nasty, plumber was clearly doing this on purpose to annoy the tenant because he doesn't have a life or family to go home to. 'British Gas would have sorted it' - NOT! Try asking those with cover who have had problems this winter or been told they need a new boiler or cost £100's and another plumber has fixed it for less than £70! Those BG engineers are employed by Satan himself!

Having offered the tenant heating, he said he was OK and managing with the gas fire in the living room.

Jason had a whole flow chart of what could be wrong with a modern boiler with all the electrical circuits and error displays, the thing is when there is a gremlin in the system can you find it? Having ordered another couple of parts this is his last chance, they will take 2 days to arrive (inconsiderate suppliers!) The answerphone message left for Freddy after this news, sounded as if the tenant was possessed.

New boiler or home exorcism on order! Else it won't be a toasty house for the tenant but a spit roasting for landlord and plumber.

If you have gremlins, get rid of them as quickly and efficiently as possible, even if it means ripping out their home and replacing it! Do not attempt to perform exorcism's yourself, get a qualified exorcist or corgi registered gas fitter.

Find out what people want and deliver it in an acceptable time-frame. Keep them updated, offer alternatives. Should they refuse, exorcise caution!


Dead tenant

Damian called and told Freddy that a tenant had died over the New Year and had no next of kin. Not having dealt with dead tenants, having killed or buried anyone recently, Freddy needed some time to think. He gave Damian a list of jobs to do and started on operation: Dead tenant clean up, Step 1: WTF and How To.

Not having any next of kin was going to be an issue as who was going to deal with the matter. Being sympathetic and business orientated at the same time was a stretch. On top of that, his tenant was in arrears and didn't pay a deposit. At least he wouldn't need to evict or kill him, every cloud has silver lining.
A few hours were spent calling the solicitor, other evil landlords, someone must have had to clean up after a death, no matter how it happened.
After getting tips on clearing it with the police there was nothing suspicious, getting a death certificate, giving an abandonment notice that he doesn't live there anymore (!?) and contacting social services to tidy up and bury him, there was some relief that they wouldn't have to dig a hole in the garden. Freddy was hoping it wasn't carbon monoxide related, that nasty plumber who won't fix the boiler did all the checks for him, someone to strangle!
The other landlords helped out with stories of forcing a door and finding someone dead in their lounge. Another guy had been dead 3 weeks lying on the floor and the smell of decomposition had drifted into the flat below to alert them. A 'happier' story from a letting agent's point of view was of a tenant who'd signed up, paid in advance ready to move in, went on holiday and died.

The possessions had to be passed to any next of kin (and not E-bayed) or put into storage for at least 6 months for someone to claim before sending to the local auction house to dispose of. Would cover some of the rent and Freddy wasn't really concerned about claiming on the deceased estate. Maybe a claim against the council as he was on benefits and they'd taken longer than 2 weeks (nearly 3 months to deal with the claim.)
At least the property was available to let as soon as they cleared it out. Freddy realised that life goes on.

Time to call Damian and actually find out where the body was, Freddy had not even thought to ask about the circumstances surrounding the death. Damian said he'd been informed, by a friend, that the tenant died in hospital after collapsing at home. I asked about his stuff and he said the other tenant was keeping it (!?) But he lived alone! Apparently not. What about his ex-wife? Never married. Does his son want any of his stuff? What son!?
Was this like an episode of the Twilight Zone, Freddy was truly confused and his head spinning!
What's going on, he had met the, now deceased, tenant who'd split from his wife, lost his job and had seen him playing X-Box with his 'son' a month earlier, or was it just a young male visitor!? Was his tenant dead or not. Yes but no.

Damian had been talking about an ex-tenant who lived at that property, not the current tenant.
Thank god he's alive, Freddy thought. Well clearly someone is dead but he was relieved it wasn't his problem. Put on Damian's list for tomorrow - go collect rent from living tenant!

Never mind Bob Hoskins telling you "It's Good to Talk!" - the actual message communicated is so much more important.

It is easy to have a conversation with someone about two completely different things and not realise, the responsibility of communication lies with the person wanting to get the message across and describing exactly what it is they mean. Become a better story-teller and lead others to imagine and see what it is you want them to.

Experiencing something in a safe environment or doing a trial run can prepare you for events in the future. This applies to anything in life, reading about something and dealing with it are two completely different beasts - one hairy and the other... err.. well, not so hairy!


Tumble dryers going bump in the night

Having to explain to the new tenant why she can't use the industrial tumble dryer in the big main house next door, was a challenge. It had previously been available for everyone to use but after a recent incident, non residents were no longer allowed in the house. It started when Freddy was showing a new tenant a room in the house. The previous girl had decided to leave so Freddy was going to help rent it out for her so she wouldn't be stuck paying a full years rent. One tenant took a dislike to the landlord being in the communal area showing someone else's room. Freddy was told he was not allowed to enter the property unless he notified ALL tenants in writing with 2 days notice, as stated in the tenancy. And wrote him a letter to clear it up,
"it is required by law that the tenant has the right to live in the property as their home, undisturbed by the landlord and/or any agents of the landlord."

He was also asked to only communicate with them in writing and given a letter to this effect
"it will no longer be deemed acceptable by any tenant for you to contact them via Face book, and we will not respond to any messages sent in this manner"
Apparently facebook is not an acceptable medium for contacting landlord/tenants, even though, like email, it is widely used by people, politicians, celebrities and businesses to stay in touch.

Oh and Freddy has an office in this property they'd like written permission from him enter, store rooms and Full CCTV access to all the communal areas! Figure that one out... time of month, dislike to Freddy helping someone else out, who know but he must be the Landlord From Hell!

To come back to the point there will be no tumble drying in the night or anytime by anyone. Freddy will have to pretend he doesn't exist and be invisible around the areas he needs to access, as skulking is preferred to making yourself be seen. Muhah-ha-ha (creepy laugh!) Somebody has to check on the furnace in the basement! Oh that's right they call them boilers now.

Treat people as individuals but if you have to treat them as a group, make sure you deal with them all the same, preferably in writing. Everything boils down to the lowest common denominator or to what the self appointed (or elected) person in charge wants to demand and can get away with.

Make allowances for people that make allowances and are flexible with you.

Facebook is not a means of communication apparently and should be shunned. Bring back carrier pigeon!

Someone has to keep the lawyers in business (also employed by the devil) Hope that common sense prevails one day!


The Creepy Comment

Freddy was busy arranging some repair when he saw a tenant and from a property and asked if it was the living room blind that needed fixing. When she replied yes, he quipped back, OK we'll get it fixed so your friend can walk around naked! Not thinking much of it, they both went on with their evening.

Later on the tenant texted her mate to let her know "Heyup, freddy said hes gonna fix the blind so you can walk around naked in the living room! Lol. Creepy.x"
Unfortunately this went to Freddy's phone, who was up in the tree house with... Damian, as there were a couple of jobs that needed doing there as well.

He replied back "Think you meant to send that to H." He tagged on a regular smiley as he couldn't find a creepy one and didn't want his tenants to think he really was a creepy nutcase. Then again they'd already decided he was, so why not ham it up a little at the next opportunity!

How had this situation arisen? It was due to the cursed facebook again. A status message from H. mentioned walking around the house naked. That is how Freddy had come to find out about the 'blind' issue and add it to his To-Do list. The naked house walking was done in a house with blinds/curtains, much to creepy landlords disappointment.

His letting agent A. found it hilarious and that the tenants won't talk to him anymore and probably wont pick up his calls. Not a problem, they're good tenants on direct debits and standing orders, so hardly bother him anyway. At least they won't call Freddy for maintenance in a rush.

Having your tenants as friends on facebook is a no-no. Yes it's that dreaded facebook again, it will cause the end of the world I tell you!
For starters they know when you're not around, so can have parties then and not invite you. Also you have to see their drunken pics (yes YOU, we know you're reading) and comments to each other, wondering if it really was like that when you were at uni. Although, it is acceptable to add them if you have a just as crazy profile and/or are creepy!

Everything should be taken in context and part of a bigger picture; focusing on the part blurs the rest.

Sometimes it's best when you say nothing at all! Best to stay in the basement in your gimp suit.


Freddy decided to go blog, err, write in his scrappy diary what he had learnt before going to bed and wondering what fun tomorrow will bring. Oh yes, asking nicely for some rent and all that paperwork to complete for the lovely taxman - if there ever was a devil, that would be him! Hope Damian is around to finish fixing the blinds, he doesn't need a restraining order as well.

Oh, it's not always the landlord at fault, some like Freddy are busy doing the best they can with the resources they have. And tenants paying rent on time always helps!


What was that? A silhouette of someone through the living room curtains or just the shadow of a tree? Sleep tight and don't let the bed springs bite. Or the squeaky floorboards and flapping tiles keep you awake.

Still not afraid? How about this T-shirt then! "Careful, you may end up in my novel." Or on someone's blog. Be afraid, be very afraid!

1 comment: