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
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)