Un­earned in­come? You must be jok­ing

Main­te­nance, re­pairs, clean­ing and mop­ping up after small chil­dren — it’s all in a typ­i­cal week­end’s grind for Vic­to­ria Whit­lock

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Letting On -

SO, IT’S easy to make money as a land­lord, is it? Money just falls down on you while you sleep, does it? Er, no, not al­ways — and I will tell you why. Take the other week­end, just as an ex­am­ple. While it seemed to me that every­one else was en­joy­ing them­selves, I was work­ing my way through a long list of prop­erty main­te­nance jobs and show­ing the flat.

Late on Fri­day evening I was at Ikea buy­ing fur­ni­ture for a new ten­ant’s room. On Satur­day, my hus­band and I as­sem­bled the chest of draw­ers I’d bought, then unassem­bled it when we got to Step 29 and re­alised we’d for­got­ten Step three.

Once the fur­ni­ture was in­stalled, I hoofed it to an­other, re­cently va­cated flat to let in a cleaner and carry out re­pairs. I glued to­gether a cracked drawer — stick­ing my fin­gers to­gether in the process — then descaled the bath­room; re­placed sev­eral blown light bulbs; ran to the lock­smith to get a new front door key cut, and scrubbed all the scuff marks off the hall walls.

I was just leav­ing the flat when I re­mem­bered to test the door­bell, which, of course, wasn’t work­ing, so I jogged to the shops in the pour­ing rain for a re­place­ment bat­tery.

On Sun­day, I was driv­ing to the flat for two ap­point­ments when one can­celled. Then a woman ar­rived with her hus­band, a tod­dler, her five-yearold son and his lit­tle friend, who she said she’d brought along “for fun”. “This isn’t a b****y crèche,” I wanted to say when both boys ran up to the liv­ing room and started leap­ing off the sofa. The woman told me she’d thought she was com­ing to view a house and, ide­ally, she wanted to live on the ground floor. I won­dered what it was about my ad­vert for a “cosy first-floor flat” that made her think it was a fam­ily-size bun­ga­low.

The woman said the fam­ily were cur­rently liv­ing in a first-floor flat but had been asked to leave be­cause the neigh­bours were con­stantly com­plain­ing about the noise. “Yes,” I said, watch­ing the boys jump­ing on and off the sofa “are they al­ways so… bouncy?” She replied: “They’re not the prob­lem, it’s this one,” and popped the girl on the ground. We all watched as the child did a straight-legged, high-speed stomp round the room. For some­thing so small she was as­ton­ish­ingly noisy. Sud­denly, the high-speed dy­namo peed all over the floor. At which point the mum grabbed her hand and they all marched out, leav­ing me to mop up.

CLOS­ING the door be­hind them as they left, I rested my head against a cool pane of glass. Don’t worry, I’m not look­ing for sym­pa­thy, but please don’t tell me rent is “un­earned in­come” be­cause I reckon I earn ev­ery penny.

Vic­to­ria Whit­lock lets four prop­er­ties in south Lon­don. To con­tact Vic­to­ria with your ideas and views, tweet @ vicwhit­lock

£519 a week: Sum­merGreen has a three­bed­room flat, part-fur­nished, avail­able to rent on the top floor of this smart pe­riod prop­erty in Balham Park Rd, Wandsworth. It comes with a pri­vate roof ter­race (020 8012 1798)

£545 a week: a part-fur­nished, two-bed­room loft apart­ment with dou­ble­height ceil­ings and a pri­vate ter­race in Balham Grove, SW12, is avail­able to rent through Por­tico (020 8012 0893)

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