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Landlady and DM/MIL one and the same(79 Posts)
My son and his partner found out they were expecting a baby last summer. They did the rounds trying to find somewhere to live - council waiting list was 6 months plus, private rentals were either slums, or if they found a house with potential, it was gone in a flash every time they enquired or tried to put in an offer.
To cut a long story short, my husband and I bought them a house they liked, in an area that wasn't too bad. They have signed a rental agreement and although we are proper landlords, we are also their family.
6 months down the line, they have turned the house into a slum. I went today to pick up my 5 1/2 month old grandchild and the floors are covered in bits (a dog that chews everything), there isn't a kitchen surface without dirty crocks, pots and pans - actually, you can't see the kitchen unit surfaces at all, and the stuff is so yuk and dried on it could be up to 2 weeks old! The toilet is absolutely minging, likewise the bathroom sink. These are my observations just from walking through the house to the toilet, not poking or moving things at all.
If DiL had worked before having the baby she would be on ML now, and I know how hard it is with a small baby. The general consensus on MN is that the housework can go b*gger itself, but I consider the state of the house to be bordering on a health hazard - salmonella and e.coli from the food lying around, cockroaches and rats ditto.
I've had a look through the tenancy agreement and apart from keeping the glass clean inside and out and general maintenance etc there's nothing specific about cleanliness and hygiene. I am, however, aware that a landlord's inspection is not unreasonable, and I could use it to highlight my concerns and use it to get the place decent.
BUT, they obviously don't see a problem with the way they live. I've been to DiL's parent's house and while it was slightly better than the rented house, it's still way below my standards. And I'm not a very house proud person; each household job, e.g. vacuuming and dusting is done approx once a week, kitchen sorted every 1 or 2 days, just enough to keep on top of it. It isn't that hard, and I'm a bit of a slob too!
How do I handle it so I don't upset (hardly) anyone?
Oops! Before I get flamed, I know my son should pull his weight. He works full time and he occasionally makes noises about cleaning this and tidying that, but he's famous for telling me what I want to hear and often stretches the truth.
I want both of them to take a bit of pride in their home.
Hmm it's a difficult one. Is there maybe someone you could hire to do an inspection for you? Therefore slightly putting the onus on them rather than you.
I don't know if such people/businesses exist!
I think some sort of inspection does need to happen though, although it is jut going to get worse and worse, and not only is it unhygienic from a DM point of view, it is awful from a landlords point of view.....eventually you may need to resell/relet the property and the worse they make it the more work you would need to do to it.
Saying that, I don't like the fact you seem to have put all the responsibility on your DIL?! Surely its a joint responsibility, housework?
The thing is if they don't keep the place clean then the fixtures and fittings (carpets, paintwork etc...) will deteriorate which will evebntually cost you money to replace if it is not maintained. Could you have a quiet word with your son about it?
Sorry x post, glad you noticed your mistake on not mentioning your son!
X posted. I was trying to give her an excuse for not having housework at the top of her list. I just omitted to mention shared responsibility.
I can't see how you can do this without damaging your relationship, unless, have you taken out a landlord's mortgage to buy this place? In which case, can you make them believe that it's the Bank that is forcing you to make this inspection and have this report done, and something awful will happen with insurance or something like that if the internal mess isn't dealt with?
If they have signed a proper rental agreement then they are allowed to keep the house as messy as they like. I assume they are paying rent?
As long as they don't actually damage anything that belongs to you as part of the house, then they can do what they want. They are not obliged to live by your standards of cleanliness just because you are their landlord.
I agree that you should have some sort of inspection to ensure that the mess and dirt is only only the surface, and if it isn't, charge them for whatever needs to be done.
Short answer is you can't and mixing family with rental is always a minefield. They feel it is their home and don't need to meet your standards, which in a way is correct. However you could use gc as motivation since presumably he will shortly become mobile and may well get ill if he chews on odd pieces left lying about. If DIL doesn't work there is no reason why she can't give the kitchen and bathroom a quick wipe over (or your ds either as presumably he has to wash too) and hoover/sweep/mop especially if she has childfree time when you pick up dgs. I think your only way forward is to offer to get someone in to do a "spring clean" and ask them to at least maintain the general cleanliness for dgs' sake.
I agree with cloudsandtrees, they arnt obliged to keep the house up to your standards but I do worry that underneath the mess your property will be deterioating (sp?) and an inspection will help sort tht.
Also an inspection should inspire them to have a good tidy/clean!!
If it's as disgusting as you are describing they could easily be reported to social services by the health visitor, or a friend - or even you.
Children have a right to a healthy, clean and safe home. Failure to provide one is neglect and is very much grounds for a referral.
In this situation I would be worried about my GS rather than the house.
They sound as if they are really not coping. They do have a newborn - is it possible your DIL has PND (sorry, I'm very ignorant so excuse me if that's a daft idea)? Or that both of them are just not coping?
I don't know what your means are, but if you've bought a house - do you have any way of helping them out with a cleaner, or could they afford a cleaner once a week?
As to the LL bit - yes, you can request to inspect a house, no, you can't be specific about cleanliness, but as others say, there's the risk your property will deteriorate. Assuming they agree to an inspection (which they don't actually have to, though it's surely moot here as you know what it's like!), what do you realistically think they'll do?
And what would you do? Are you considering giving them notice to leave at the end of the tenancy period?
I think you're going to struggle not to damage the relationship, but if it's as bad as you say, they do have a problem.
We have an inspection every 3 months on our property.
Yes, the house isn't spotless at times, but when the inspection is done it is tip top.
Make a plan for an inspection, and a list of what is required ie; oven and cooker clean, carpets hoovered, lawn mown, windows clean, all rubbish thrown out, and bins empty.
That sort of thing.
Might chivvy them on to have some pride in the place once they've tidied and cleaned up.
It's hard mixing family and business. Many years ago, I rented a house from a good friend and she deliberately went through a letting agent so that the inspections and any issues were dealt with by a third party. It meant that she could pop round for coffee and I wouldn't feel like she was judging.
Perhaps it's time to have a meeting with your son and DiL explaining your concerns. Whilst they are entitled to quiet enjoyment, as landlord you're entitled to see that they are maintaining the property... and as a grandmother you're rightly concerned about your grandchild's welfare. If they were renting from a private landlord they could expect 3-4 monthly inspections and for the letting agent or landlord to list defects (this is what we are subjected to).
If its as bad as you say then my primary concern would be the child that lives there.
You say the house is a health hazard.
And you are more concerned about the house, fixtures and fittings than about any possible consequences to your grandchild from living in such squalid conditions YABU
'I don't know what your means are, but if you've bought a house - do you have any way of helping them out with a cleaner, or could they afford a cleaner once a week?'
FGS! They live in a house bought for them, no worrying about being turfed out, having a LL who doesn't maintain the property, etc etc and now she's supposed to buy them a fucking cleaner as well?
The gal grew up in a shit tip. So did my DH. He doesn't see dirt and wouldn't give a toss if he lived in a midden heap if I didn't have to ride his arse and buck him up.
I had PND. Severely. Twice. DH had to step in and keep the place from becoming an utter pit because it's not healthy for the children.
OP, your first mistake was buying a house for your son whom you knew to be lazy.
Put the rent up by £20 a week, and include a cleaner once a week. If they know they have a cleaner coming in, they will join in with keeping on top of stuff.
If you do this diplomatically, it will give them a chance to have a shift in standards, at a later date they may go for the rent reduction and drop the cleaner.
The may be overwhelmed, and in a joint denial.
I wouldn't offer to pay for a spring clean - they'll start expecting it and you've already been amazingly generous with the house. I'm on ml at te moment with a dd who doesn't nap in the house, but that hasn't stopped me keeping everything in an ok state. Can you offer to take you dgc for a few hours to give her time to clean instead? I have done this when my dm has been to stay.
I think calls for social services are a tad extreme. Cloudsandtrees has it right afaic.
Im a slobbly single parent, but i make the effort, maybe have a word with them again, having a dirty house makes you feel miserable, maybe you can give them hand sometimes.
FYI, if someone called SS and they paid a visit, your DGD would be removed from their care. I know, as this happened to me, when i was suffering from PND, they claimed i was neglectful of my DD.
I agree that having regular inspections is a good idea. The way that I used to clean prior to a landlord inspection was always quite difficult to how I cleaned for my DM visiting. My MIL believes cleaning is wimmins werk so I find myself randomly not cleaning things as a small scale dirty protest prior to her arrival...
I think you need to separate out your cleanliness standards, your perspective of your tenants, what you view as your DIL's duties, etc. Your DIL cannot be given the idea that she needs to clean like a mad thing prior to your arrival as you are the landlord - so every cup of tea visit is essentially a landlord inspection. If you are not exaggerating and being the MIL from hell and the house really is as disgusting as you describe, then it's not an issue for Mumsnet, you needed to have called social services already, there's a child in there for god's sake. This really isn't about a few cobwebs.
Oh, and when you do the inspection, remind them that you have your business head on, and is purely fir business purposes. If they take any critisims about the cleanliness, give them like a week to tidy/ clean and then re inspect. If not good enough perhaps mention them leaving. May put the wind up them.
Personally, I'd be happy if someone bought me a house even just to rent in.
Meant to add - our current letting agent is a reasonable man. He explained that the inspections were only relevant to the fixtures and fittings belonging to the landlord, so for instance if we hadn't washed up or swept the floor he couldn't comment but if there was paint spilled on the carpet he could ask us to clean it.
I had PND after my DS was born, DH worked away and there was just no way I could keep on top of the housework, I had no idea where to start with cleaning. I'm not naturally tidy and even now (10 years on) I have to try hard to tidy. It will never be up to my MiL's standards though!
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