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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?


LIZS Fri 26-Apr-13 19:22:39

Hopefully they'll prioritise him for now and get into better habits.

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 26-Apr-13 16:53:02

I'm glad when you said that your DGC is hale and hearty. That's the key in all of this. Also delighted it seems to be sorted for now.

It must be a hard role being both Land Lady and Grandmother and there is a difference between being a bit messy and not keeping the house in a hygenic state.I think you just have to accept they have different standards and as long as there is nothing that is actively hazardous to your DGC turn a bit of a blind eye.

It sounds like you are already providing quite a lot of support by looking after your DGC in the afternoons and the once a week overnight stay.

olgaga Fri 26-Apr-13 16:44:11

Oh that's great Teeny, second the bit about being a lovely mum/mil!

(and landlord!) grin

Bobyan Fri 26-Apr-13 16:38:07

Great news, you sound a lovely mil by the way!

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 26-Apr-13 15:23:05

Whew! Good to hear. smile

TeenyW123 Fri 26-Apr-13 15:18:24

Hi folks,

A bit of a breakthrough.

I'd muttered something to my Ds yesterday when he came to pick up Dgc about the state of the house and it looks like they've had a chat and decided to get it sorted. I went to fetch Dgc today and Ddil said about giving the place a blitz. I asked if I could help, e.g. Take some washing for them or by having Dgc until it was all done. She said that it would prob take more than this pm and tomorrow am. but should be able to get most of it done. No attitude at all!

I have no qualms now in arranging a LL inspection in a week or so, by which time there should be some sort of order.

I suppose all I had to do was mention something! A bit like that joke that ends up "well, you can shove the foot pump up your arse!"

Thanks all


UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Fri 26-Apr-13 13:51:44

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.

Honestly - this is the best suggestion of the thread. I am a LL and I employ a cleaning service for all of my properties. It works to keep the tenants reminded of what an acceptable standard of cleanliness is.

I think this couple do need some tough love. Once the baby is crawling / walking they will need to be less lazy to protect the child from dirt / debris hazards. I wouldn't approach it from a LL perspective but from a concerned parent / grandparent.

Homestart may be helpful? If they are neglecting their own hygiene when do they start neglecting their DCs?

DuelingFanjo Fri 26-Apr-13 13:37:23


how bad is it? What does a minging toilet look like? Are we talking crusted in shit or just a bit dusty and unloved?

Is it unhygienic for a child? Or is it more that you would have a daily/weekly routine of jobs that keeps mess down?

I am pretty sure that my own mother can't bear the state of my house but she leaves me to it and my child is not in any danger because I only hoover once a fortnight or because there are clothes lying about. If my mum comes round she could easily find worktops covered in cooking stuff and assume that it had been there for ages when the reality is it may only have been there for 12 hours.

you say "I don't think my Ddil really knows HOW to clean, but it's teaching/showing her without offending that worries me. I know I could railroad DS into doing things better but I want them both on board. "

I think it would be totally the wrong thing to start telling your DIL how to clean better, it's not going to go down well. Perhaps you should, as you say, have a word with your son who sounds like a bit of a slob and ask him why he doesn't think of clearing away the dinner stuff and sweeping the floor?

fluffiphlox Fri 26-Apr-13 13:22:59

I meant^^that THEY should pay for a cleaner if they can't be bothered to do it themselves.
They've got it cushy I think

Bobyan Fri 26-Apr-13 11:36:31

They are using you, they are not children and I can guarantee that if you clean the house once, you will end up doing it again in the future.

Put the rent up, change the rental contract to say a cleaner will visit once a week. Use the money to employ a cleaner and stop mollycoddling them.

DontmindifIdo Fri 26-Apr-13 11:34:27

well then, perhaps the nicest way to do it is to say for your landlord's insurance and mortgage, there has to be an inspection, so surfaces have to be clear etc so they can see if there's any damage - not that you think there is, just it's one of those things the bank make you do [innocent smile] - and say to DIL, look, I know it's a faff you have to put up with this, do you want me to come over the day before to help you with cleaning everywhere? Make a point of making sure she has the correct cleaning products, and showing her how to use them.

If she's getting half a day a week to herself and a night a week, then they have far more help than most and don't really need a cleaner, just an incentive to do it.

But while as the landlord you have a right to expect they won't damage your property, you have no right to expect them to keep it clean, except that it's returned to you clean when they leave.

olgaga Fri 26-Apr-13 11:31:42

The child's at risk. So ring SS.

expat you have a very strange take on what makes a child "at risk"!

rollmeover Fri 26-Apr-13 11:11:50

I dont have any solutions to offer re your cleanliness issues with the house, but I just wanted to say you sound like a lovely mum and you son and hispartner are lucky to have you.

Cloverer Fri 26-Apr-13 11:09:32

How is the child at risk?

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 26-Apr-13 11:08:37

Good point about the clutter and a cleaner. sad

You sound lovely and you obviously have your family's best interests at heart. It's awful if she genuinely doesn't know how. I can see how that could happen. I think it's a really good idea to offer to do it once - I hope they take it well and I hope things get sorted.

Best of luck.

expatinscotland Fri 26-Apr-13 11:05:14

So you disagree? You've said that. Over and over again.

The child's at risk. So ring SS.

And yes, I think the son is lazy and entitled.

TeenyW123 Fri 26-Apr-13 11:03:51

Crikey! I turn my back and so many responses!

They probably are a bit entitled and lazy, but I don't think either of them see that they're going down the 'life of grime' route.

My son has a very low personal hygiene threshold, and it's not for the want of nagging pointing out that I can smell him from across the room! He's got worse since he's left home. I actually took his clothes of him and washed them while he showered when he brought Dgc round a few weeks ago. I think there's been a slight improvement since then. My husband is his stepdad and has been since son was 7. He's so clean I could eat my dinner off him! His bio father however had very dubious standards. The old nature/nurture debate. My Ddil Is what I'd consider fairly normal in this regard.

I don't think my Ddil really knows HOW to clean, but it's teaching/showing her without offending that worries me. I know I could railroad DS into doing things better but I want them both on board. There's another family member (by marriage) who's similar with regard to cleanliness, but my lovely old dear departed mum (who could be a bit of a harridan with me) said that the family member just didn't KNOW how to clean, was never taught. Made me think again. And I'm applying said thinking here.

There's no way I'm involving SS, but perhaps I could use it as a subliminal threat in some way? My Dgc is ATM hale and hearty and growing like bamboo. If anyone's poorly it's often Ddil. Perhaps I could use that to motivate her into putting in a bit more effort into it.

There's also no way I'm getting them a cleaner. As has been mentioned they are very lucky to have a house provided. It would make them even more entitled. Besides, don't you have to declutter to let a cleaner do their job?

We have DGC overnight once a week and have done since he was 2 weeks old. I've worked less hours over the last few months so have taken to picking up Dgc for an afternoon every week too. I'm no expert with PND but would venture that its unlikely Ddil is suffering from it, but will take it into account if I'm wrong.

I think I'll have a word with Dson, express my concerns both as a granny and as a LL, and offer to clean it ONCE ONLY to show how its done. As someone up thread said, when DGc is mobile there'll be a whole new kettle of fish to be worried about. I'll point out Expats comment re the gold dust too!

Of course, it might be that Ddil won't be offended at all! I don't feel I know her well enough to be able to judge her reaction, and if I never say anything then she'll never know how it's irking me.

Thanks all for your input. You've given me a few gems to think about.


LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 26-Apr-13 10:59:43

I didn't intend it as a bunfight either. I am just saying what I think.

I saw your posts as unhelpful. Sorry, but I did. I was bewildered by the way you jumped in to give the worst case scenario and tell the OP her family are lazy, entitled, and should be cut out of her will. She is a grandmother worried about her grandchild and her property, and to me at least, her description makes me worried for her family, not judgemental. She admits she knows her son sometimes tells her what she wants to hear, and she has a DIL whose house seems to have got out of control, with a five month old baby. Maybe the DIL is absolutely fine; maybe she isn't. But I think it actually might matter a little tiny bit!

I'm going to butt out because mrsr is right, it's not helpful to get into this with you, but I do hope the OP is ok and I do wish her all the best in what I think is a really fraught situation.

expatinscotland Fri 26-Apr-13 10:55:07

'[side steps bun fight]'

There isn't one. Or, at least, not one that I started or want to be a part of. hmm

expatinscotland Fri 26-Apr-13 10:54:04

'I know opinions were asked for. I just happen to be of the opinion you're reacting in a bizarre and OTT way. I'm actually allowed to disagree with you, you know.'

Fine with me, I never said otherwise.

Scaremongering? I suggested calling SS. The kid's at risk. If you think that's scaremongering, again, you're entitlted to that opinion, just as you are to believe that being offered a private let on a house with no chance of being turfed out isn't gold dust. After being served notice on 5 homes over the course of time and facing 'No children' more than once, I certainly see it as such.

You see it as unhelpful to suggest ringing SS, I see it as unhelpful to suggest getting a cleaner in for them.

Different strokes for different folks.

I don't agree, but I don't accuse you of being unhelpful. I just disagree and live and let live.

olgaga Fri 26-Apr-13 10:53:41

Yes the OP has a relationship to maintain - that will hardly be achieved by having a go at their "laziness" and calling SS in.

OP could end up with no tenants and no grandchild either! This is a situation which calls for a subtle approach.

In any case, it's absurd to imagine that children get taken away from parents simply because their living conditions are not ideal.

msrisotto Fri 26-Apr-13 10:51:37

[side steps bun fight]

OP, do you think you could say to them - I was in the house the other day and want you to look after it so please keep it clean - ?

If not, maybe you could delegate this to someone a bit more removed. I don't know if you have a relative who lets anywhere out, or you could hire a managing agent. After all, if you are not a professional landlord then you could probably use the guiding hand of an agency to ensure you are complying to legal standards etc. This will have the added benefit of them doing site inspections and telling them to pull their finger out if they're letting it go to wreck and ruin. They will also hold them to reasonable standards - to be honest I can't tell if you are over reacting about the state of the place or not.

fluffiphlox Fri 26-Apr-13 10:49:02

I have a holiday home that I rent out. Friends and family who want to use it are asked to go via a letting agency as I don't like to mix business and personal things because of the aggravation it can cause. The agency then checks it on departure as with everyone else. Could you start doing this? Or ask them to employ a cleaner on a weekly basis as part of their commitment to you? £15-20 a week surely won't break the bank? Especially if their rent isn't competitive? (I have no idea if that is about right for the job btw.)
They do seem to be taking the mickey rather. Surely plenty of people with a child keep a relatively clean and tidy house?
My other suggestion would be to give them notice and see how this pair of adults get on in the big wide world without parental props.

EggsMichelle Fri 26-Apr-13 10:48:26

I will be renting my dp's second home from June, with my DH, 5m old DS, dog and two cats. I acknowledge my DM is a clean freak and I'm what she classes as a slob, but at the end of the day it's her house and if I don't keep it up to scratch she has every right to charge me for a cleaner or turf me out. I respect that its her house, your DS and dil need to do the same.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 26-Apr-13 10:37:03

I know opinions were asked for. I just happen to be of the opinion you're reacting in a bizarre and OTT way. I'm actually allowed to disagree with you, you know.

I'm glad you'd jump at the chance of a private rental - but the point is, not everyone would see this as gold dust.

And the OP's son and DIL may well be naive, or entitled, and that may be why they aren't appreciative.

I just think it is really unhelpful to jump in and assume the worst, start scaremongering about social services, when the OP is in a really difficult situation.

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