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The fact that I now believe the landlord to suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour (OCD) is a recent development; in my previous dealings with him, he had seemed a very nice landlord, with a beautifully presented property.
That being the case, the maximum deposit he required seemed reasonable, as did the month’s rent in advance.
The landlord was delighted when a professional couple presented themselves. There was no argument about the rent, references were excellent, and it was stated the rent was paid on time every month and the deposit would be returned in full. They seemed the kind of tenants that landlords dream about, so without delay, the tenancy agreement was signed.
Some weeks later, the landlord rang me, no longer seeming delighted with his tenants. He had called round, by prior arrangement, to do one of the inspections I always advise is good practice, to ensure there are no problems, no repairs needed and be able to offer any advice on the property.
The landlord had been invited in and offered a cup of tea, so far so good, but the landlord followed the tenant into the kitchen to see what appeared to be at least 2 days washing-up in the sink. Dirty washing was stacked in a corner; the windows did not appear to have been cleaned in the month they had lived there; a trip to the toilet revealed it was not in the pristine condition it had been, being badly marked.
When he made his distress evident to the tenants, they did not appear to take it seriously, stating they worked very hard and could not be expected to be cleaning all the time. When the landlord said that he would deduct money from the deposit, the tenants said that was surely why they had paid a deposit? But they would bring the house back to the move-in condition, before they moved out.
It was the conversation with him after this that convinced me he was at least a little OCD. Was there anything about the tenants’ behaviour in the property that was causing deterioration? There were no animals, no children, just two well-paid adults, who may not have a very high standard of hygiene, but the dishes left dirty in the sink were theirs, the washing in a stack on the floor was theirs.
The only thing that the landlord had any responsibility for was the toilet, but although very extreme cleaning might be necessary, it really is up to the tenants and if they are not bothered, there is very little that can be done.
Saying this to the OCD landlord went down like a lead-balloon. He could not be pacified by the facts – that the property was not being damaged, that it was purely cosmetic. That being the case, there was little likelihood of him gaining possession on what would be a discretionary ground.
My advice was that he try to discuss the situation with the tenants and see if there was anything that could be done to lessen the grief the landlord was feeling. Would they be prepared to get a window-cleaner? Ensure that the inspections noted in the tenancy agreement were actually done, to ensure that the situation does not deteriorate further and start to cause damage. It would take tact but donate a couple of bottles of bleach. A filthy toilet will smell, and nobody wants the smell of urine (or worse) to permeate the environment.
Becoming a private sector landlord is not the ideal job for anybody with any degree of OCD. Better to get an agent if messiness is intolerable to you and will upset your peace of mind. It’s worth what they charge if it means you can sleep at night., OCD or not OCD.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon