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Landlady and DM/MIL one and the same

(79 Posts)
TeenyW123 Fri 26-Apr-13 08:37:01

That's me.

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?


expatinscotland Fri 26-Apr-13 09:15:48

So in addition to providing the equivalent of housing gold dust - a house bought for you by your folks and rented to you so no crap LLs, letting agents taking you for a ride every 6 months, inspections, etc - the OP is also supposed to sort out their cleaning problems by sourcing cleaners and providing childcare?

5.5 months. They aren't overwhelmed, they are lazy.

Report them to SS, OP, you can do it anonymously.

Nagoo Fri 26-Apr-13 09:17:18

I wouldn't talk about it from the POV of the house at all, but from a point of concern for the baby sad

LIZS Fri 26-Apr-13 09:20:42

Sounds like she is already providing childcare.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 26-Apr-13 09:23:15

expat - yes, sorry, I do see that. I agree they are extremely lucky.

I am not trying to suggest the OP should pay for a cleaner. I just don't know what her situation is and whether it's an option. I would think it depends hugely on whether these people are just being a bit slummy and lazy, or whether there is a more serious issue such as the PND I'm mentioning? Or maybe, as you say, the DH needs to step in and isn't doing so (and the OP suggests that might be).

The LL isn't 'expected' to do anything, but she is this baby's grandmother and it's not rocket science to realize she actually might not want to report her own child to SS if there is another way.

maddening Fri 26-Apr-13 09:24:15

If you're ds moans about cleaning in the future that might give you a chance to broach the question - you could offer to include a cleaner in the rent - so increase the rent but hire a weekly cleaner?

LIZS Fri 26-Apr-13 09:29:55

or they could employ a cleaner ...

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 26-Apr-13 09:33:39

I did suggest they could employ a cleaner, upthread.

Let's be totally honest here, the OP is being extremely generous but if her son and DIL don't see anything wrong with the way they live, the fact is she is worried about them not seeing her actions as concern, but as interfearing. She is in a really difficult position because she has her grandchild to think about, and I don't see that ignoring the facts in order to talk about SS and 'laziness' is helpful.

specialsubject Fri 26-Apr-13 09:34:58

there's a bit untidy, and there's plain disgusting. Sounds as if they never wash up and never clean the toilet. Money clearly isn't a problem as they are feeding a dog.

OP's son doesn't have PND. Is he as entitled and idle as he sounds?

The child is at risk from this filth. Straight talking time, or social services will have to be involved.

Netguru Fri 26-Apr-13 09:37:17

Talk to son and get him to employ a cleaner or help more. Regardless of who owns the house, clearly not coping.

I'm a multiple landlord. Tenants don't have to keep the place tidy. Again though, forget the landlord bit. A caring grandmother/mother would still have an interest in this.

jacks365 Fri 26-Apr-13 09:38:40

I would recommend the ss route to be frank. No they are unlikely to have dgs taken into care but from the sounds of it if it was felt needed he'd be placed with you in this situation while dil sorts herself out.

Your ds and dil need to realise that this is an issue for their child and it needs to be done for him.

cantspel Fri 26-Apr-13 09:39:42

FFS just tell them to get the place clean or you might have to rethink whether or not you want to be a landlord.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 26-Apr-13 09:44:57

But she can't. She's said she has a contract.

I am going to say this and I know lots of LL think it is really unfair, and I see that in this situation it must feel really unfair to the OP. However: tenants don't have to clean up for inspections. They don't actually have to allow inspections. This is obviously not an excuse for anyone living in a pigsty, and obviously you would bloody hope that if your MIL bought you a house and rented it out to you, you'd show gratitude by keeping it clear or at the least having a clean-up when she came round.

The fact they're not doing that might be that they're just lazy and entitled as some have said.

Or it might be that they are not coping with a newborn, for whatever reason.

Or, it might be - especially if the DIL's parents rent and aren't especially houseproud - that they don't see the problem and won't be amenable to being expected to clean up for a LL with whom they have a formal relationship as well as a family one. That's the worry, isn't it? That if they won't clean up, what does she do? If telling them she'd like them to clean for inspections happens to work - brilliant. But there are reasons why it might not and since she posted about being a LL as well as grandma, that side of it needs to be mentioned.

I reckon she needs to talk to the son and see if they'll go for a cleaner, and if the DIL has a HV or anyone to talk to. Maybe she's fine but it can't hurt to try to see if she's not.

olgaga Fri 26-Apr-13 09:46:12

I really think you have to separate your concern about the house from your concern about your grandchild.

To be perfectly honest, the cleanliness of the house is nothing to do with you as a landlord. It's perfectly possible to get a deep clean done at the end of a tenancy, and replacing carpets and other fixtures and fittings is part and parcel of renting property. It's a business expense which along with general wear and tear is recognised in the tax allowances on the income from property.

If you are a proper landlord and you have a proper tenancy agreement then your tenants are obliged to use the property, fixtures and fittings in a way that causes no damage - that is all. If there is damage, that is addressed through the damage deposit. They are not expected to keep it clean to your standards.

As a grandparent, if you have concerns about the way your grandchild has to live then you need to deal with it as all grandparents would.

Ask your son if he is happy with the state of the place, and whether they need help. If they can't see that a reasonable level of hygiene is important then that's a pity - but unless you feel the child is seriously at risk I'm not sure what you can do if you want to maintain amicable relations.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 26-Apr-13 09:50:21

FYI, if someone called SS and they paid a visit, your DGD would be removed from their care.

This is not true!

Loulybelle, obviously I don't know what happened in your case, but it is simply not true to simply say that if social services visit they will remove a child from the care of their parents, and I actually think that's a shockingly irresponsible, scaremongering thing to say. It's just not true. Plenty of people have messy houses and PND and take fantastic care of their children, social services know that.

Personally, I think social services should be the last resort and a landlords inspection would be by far the best route to go down at this stage, but for social services to remove a child because of the state of a house, then there will be valid concerns about the health of the child.

olgaga Fri 26-Apr-13 10:00:17

FYI, if someone called SS and they paid a visit, your DGD would be removed from their care.

I agree this is completely OTT! For heaven's sake, the child has to be at serious risk of harm before that happens.

Alwayscheerful Fri 26-Apr-13 10:08:40

It might be an idea to separate the problems, your house and your grandchild's safety and your disapproval of how your son and his family are living.

I am a landlord, well landlady, tenants for me seem to come in two main types, perfectionists and slobs, the sensible ones in the middle seem to be few and far between. Perfectionists can be nuisance, they tend to make frequent and petty demands. You know about the slobs but I find they never ask for anything and are too lazy to move out.

From a commercial point of view, you want a tenant who pays the rent and pays it on time. Is the rent paid on time and do they pay an average market rent? Another thing to consider is yield, your yield is most affected by voids, voids can be avoided by not being too greedy with the rent and keeping tenants happy and when they occur they can be minimised by quickly bringing properties back up to the required standard. Whatever the state of the property I am assuming you son and his family are unlikely to move out and therefore you will have no void periods, a very big plus.

Your main financial concern would seem to be Fixtures and fittings , average lifespan will depend on quality but boiler every 10 years, bathrooms and kitchens 5- 10 years, carpets say 5 years if you are lucky or 10 years if they were more expensive and you have perfect tenants. I don't know how long your son and his family will stay but you would be perfectly within reason to tell them to replace their own carpets. As far as the fixture and fittings go, send in a handyman once a year to do any little jobs they have and check the plumbing connections. You would be within reason to point out you will not be replacing kitchens/ bathrooms for a number of years.

So far as your concern for their general welfare goes, I think another thread is in order along the lines of Mil disapproves of filthy house. Separate your concerns as a landlord from those as a MIL GM. Pretend your tenants are just that and just view the financial consequences.

coralanne Fri 26-Apr-13 10:11:00

So sorry for you.

It might cost you more but I feel that you should put the property into the hands of a letting agent.

They are then responsible for collecting rent, inspections etc.

I have had an investment property for 10 years and when it became vacant my DN asked to move in.

I gave her the Agent's name and address and they manage the property the same way they always have. (I did tell the Agent that there was no need for references etc.)

expatinscotland Fri 26-Apr-13 10:12:50

If your son treats the house this way, I'd think seriously about the contents of your will if there's any money left to will to him besides this house. He sounds lazy and irresponsible.

elliejjtiny Fri 26-Apr-13 10:13:08

Putting aside the LL bit, could you offer to take the baby for the day so they can get some cleaning done. Or come and help them with the cleaning?

Cloverer Fri 26-Apr-13 10:17:20

It depends on how bad it is - messy floors and plates piled up isn't damaging the house is it? So I do think they have a right to live how they like in their own home.

If you really think it is a danger to the baby then obviously you have to act. If not, just accept that they have different standards to you.

Alwayscheerful Fri 26-Apr-13 10:17:47

Cross posted with Olgaga- she said what I wanted to say but in a different way.

I think it will be helpful to consider how the rental property is doing financially, look at the rental income minus the loss of investment income or if there is a mortgage rental income minus interest on the mortgage and boiler cover, gas & electrical certificates. I forgot to mention you are
Fortunate in that you have no agent set up costs or commissions to pay. You may be pleasantly surprised not only do you have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping your family but hopefully you are growing family assists too.

expatinscotland Fri 26-Apr-13 10:17:47

'Putting aside the LL bit, could you offer to take the baby for the day so they can get some cleaning done. Or come and help them with the cleaning?'

Sounds like she's already taking the baby.

Help them with cleaning?! She bought them a house to live in, they are adults, now she's supposed to help them clean, too?

No wonder you read about so many pisstaking, cheeky, entitled people on MN!

coralanne Fri 26-Apr-13 10:22:17

Well put Expat

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 26-Apr-13 10:23:38

expat, did you miss the bit where she has a contract with them and they're paying rent?

She's not 'supposed' to do anything, but she is fairly obviously a normal grandmother concerned about her grandchild. Do you not think she might actually like to see the baby?

She didn't post 'OMG, I hate my family and want to shop them to SS because they are horrible shits', but no-one would know it from your replies.

expatinscotland Fri 26-Apr-13 10:26:29

'expat, did you miss the bit where she has a contract with them and they're paying rent?'

And? She could give them notice tomorrow if they are outside the short-assured period or in the notice period and they'd have to pay rent to someone else who would probably at the very least do inspections, not help them with childcare and hire a fucking cleaner or come in and clean up.

A private rental with a great LL, no chance of getting turfed out, no letting agent fees left right and centre, is fucking gold dust. Anyone who's been out there knows that and would be falling over themselves to keep that place up if they were in any way responsible people.

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