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Advice needed for a reluctant landlord

(8 Posts)
Marzipants Fri 04-Mar-16 11:26:05

It's a long one, sorry.

My mum inherited her parents' house around 24 years ago. She's mortgage free and rents out the house (which is in her home town) to provide some income. So far, so straight forward.

The house is around a four hour drive from where she lives (and nowhere near where either of her DDs live either). She doesn't drive and has had ME for around 26 years (she got it a couple of years before her mum died), so getting down to actually see the house is a mission. Iirc she's been there about 8 times since her DM died.

Her tenant is ummm... eccentric. She's nailed dozens of pictures of herself doing her hobby to the walls, only lives in 3/4 rooms and only tells DM about problems when it's a big one. She keeps the place absolutely filthy, though her dad keeps the garden nice which is something. I think she has some MH problems (on DLA) and DM doesn't want to evict her (she's been living there almost 20y) because it would be unchristian.

The problem is DM hasn't been properly maintaining the house. It needs properly looking after but her tenant is unwilling/unable to do it or report faults, and she can't inspect it herself.

The problem at the moment is terrible mould in the bedroom. DM suspects the roof has gone, which is going to be a big expense. She has investments but with no other of income they have to last her for the rest of her days. She's single and lives alone.

I've tried tough talking, making suggestions but she's a ditherer. I think this might be the last straw though. Wwyd? Any idea how she can pay for the repairs? Should she cut her losses and all, but what about the tenant? She's doing no-one any favours becoming a slum lord but she just can't seem to grasp the nettle here.

Any advice gratefully received!

Bearbehind Fri 04-Mar-16 11:37:00

Leaving the house to gradually deteriorate isn't helping anything regardless of whether your mum keeps the house or sells it.

If she keeps it and the mould gets worse it will be more difficult/ expensive to fix. Plus, if it leads to the tenant getting ill because of it, I'm pretty sure your Mum can get into trouble for that.

If she sells it then the repairs will either need to be done beforehand or it will be reflected in the price.

I'd sell it- your Mum has to accept the tenant isn't her problem- making it so is going to leave her well out of pocket.

specialsubject Fri 04-Mar-16 11:57:50

leaving someone with clear problems living in a deteriorating dump is not exactly showing love and kindness, either.

the choice is simple; fix the place and set up a reliable agent who will inspect and monitor. Or evict and sell.

first thing is to check the tenancy situation. If the tenant has been there that long, she may not have started on a standard AST and there's going to be a problem.

if it is a standard AST and the tenant wises up and reports to environmental health, she cannot be evicted until the place is fixed. Then your mum's hand will be forced.

ignoring this is only going to make it worse.

Marzipants Fri 04-Mar-16 13:35:34

You're both right. I think I'll be having a difficult conversation with mum tonight. Whether she actually does anything this time waits to be seen. Thanks both.

Catphrase Fri 04-Mar-16 13:48:22

This could be a massively stupid idea so please ignore if it is!

Presumably she's getting an income from the house, I know she's relying on it, but could she get a small buy to let mortgage on the property or a loan against the property? And chuck a big chunk at sorting it?
That way the tenant is ok, yes she will lose part of her income but she's protecting the house

specialsubject Fri 04-Mar-16 14:34:03

best of luck. There ARE reliable agents out there who can help. They cost money but that's property ownership for you.

doing nothing is wrecking a property and putting someone ill at further risk. The tenant's problems are not those of your mum, but this situation cannot continue.

Marzipants Fri 04-Mar-16 14:50:35

Some great advice here everyone, thanks.

I wondered about a BTL mortgage too Catphrase. If she wants to keep the house she needs to spend some cash on it to get it up to standard.

And you're right about the environmental health Specialsubject, I think she's been keeping her head in the sand about how much she's really "helping" her tenant.

specialsubject Fri 04-Mar-16 17:32:05

indeed. The rules are there to stop 'retaliatory evictions', the rare situation where a tenant complains about severe problems with their property and then gets evicted, with the place rented to someone else. This is now illegal.

and it is the kind of thing that could catch out your mum.

the tenant does need to do her bit by heating, ventilating and cleaning (and it sounds like there are problems there) but a leaky roof is 100% down to the landlord.

please make it clear that you mum MUST do something, and I hope it all works out. I'd also check the insurances and make very sure you know how to issue a legal notice to quit, if that is the chosen path.

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