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Reasons to be cheerful

Leydon Lettings Canterbury Student ‘Tales’

A collection of “Canterbury Tales Of The Unexpected”, providing “Reasons To Be Cheerful”

Triple plagiarism inspired this page:

Ian Drury and the Blockheads’ Reasons to be cheerful. The content takes on a certain “blockhead” irony when you read some of the egregious antics of our tenants – strictly anonymous, to prevent any embarrassment.

Roald Dahl’s “Tales of the unexpected” describes the more serious scenarios.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s collection of “Canterbury Tales” could be amended to read: Leydon’s collection of Canterbury Tales.

Leydon Lettings has made the odd fau-paux too – no holds barred! Reasons to be cheerful is a page born out of a quarter century of Leydon Lettings experiences – both humorous & not-so. This is non-essential reading for those with a sense of humour and time to waste, if up for a laugh.

A COLLECTION OF Leydon Lettings ® CANTERBURY TALES: © copyright:

Do not pass go, do not collect £200…

Reasons to Lock-in and Luck-Out.
“Friday evening about to lock the shop after a hard week a tenant advises she is locked out of her room. Racing to the rescue I arrived to find the door open with the tenant inside
…. Tales of the unexpected: An Inside Job
“Can you explain the problem with the door”, I asked. “Wait inside the room the tenant ordered”. She quickly closed the door before I sensed disaster, with me on the inside and she on the other side. “The door is stuck closed”, she then announced! Feeling like I had just been hoodwinked, I then spent the next few minutes trying to escape!” Fortunately I had with me a tool box enabling release and a spare lock which I then replaced!

The Lion The Witch and… (C.S. Lewis).

Reasons to put your foot in it…
“This is going to sound weird but …, i kicked my wardrobe door in my sleep and knocked in a panel.”
… Tales of the unexpected:
I replied “hope you wear steel toe-capped bed-socks from now on. We wouldn’t want you to hurt your foot or wake up in Narnia with frost bite!”

To the letter…

Reasons to be up a gum tree…
7pm, Saturday evening, at home, feet up, watching TV, the phone rings…. A group of student girls. “An important letter (possibly exam results?) has just blown out the window and landed in their garden tree – can you help get it down?” Found at the scene of the emergency the veritable Christmas tree had been decorated … with some 30 magazines, scattered throughout the branches, it looked like recycling in reverse! “We thought we could dislodge the letter by chucking things into the tree from an upstairs window”, they reasoned. Monkeying up the tree, our near-pensioner-aged maintenance man, rescued the precious letter whilst not forgetting the magazines.
… Tales of the unexpected:
Upon descent of the tree loud congratulations aroused a boyfriend who emerged from inside the house. Why had this young fit lad had not ‘risen’ to the challenge? ” Too dangerous for me mate.”


Reasons to be committed..
Be careful who you select for a house mate. Leydon have had three fires in 25 years, only one was serious with no injuries or fatalities and all were avoidable. Our tenant was obsessed with firemen – on a single day she telephoned every fire-station in Kent with hoax calls. Our suspicions began with a visit by the police, asking who had made the first emergency 999 call? Everyone knew, but no one could prove it was Xxxxx until she was ultimately prosecuted – twice.
… Tales of the unexpected:
Placing a frying pan on a lighted gas, unattended, she left the house and arrived back just in time to call the fire brigade upon “discovering” the fire! What a heroine!? So while she was outside salivating with excitement at the sight of all these uniformed officers, our tenants were inside suffocating. Found guilty, she only narrowly escaped prison by becoming pregnant receiving the mercy of the judge as a mother-to-be.

The Key To Life:

Reasons to be alive…
Occasionally tenants forget keys and we enable them back in again. Leydon Lettings contract agrees a charge for replacement keys. In fact Leydon Lettings is fairly relaxed and will often ignore the cost to save ill feeling. This was becoming a habit with one tenant, who was warned that Leydon Lettings would pass on the cost to gain entry. With a contradiction in terms the tenant retorted “You shouldn’t employ people like that if you have to pay them”. Disappointment can often erase reason . This is amusing in isolation of the sting in the tail.
… Tales of the unexpected:
The tenant in her disappointment and frustration failed to recall the previous lock-out. Only a week earlier Leydon lettings’ representative opened the door with a spare key (without charge to the tenant).
Upon opening the door confronted by strong smelling gas fumes, a closer inspection revealed an unlit gas hob was left on, allowing fumes to build up to a dangerous level. A single spark from a light switch or boiler igniting could have resulted in a fatal explosion.
Our representative pushed the waiting tenant away from the door to safety before risking his own life and entering the house to turn off the gas and ventilate the entire house. Was this appreciated…? “I am not paying for the key!”

An Illuminating Loo – unless you are colour blind; some things are just black or white

Reasons to be red…

Leydon Lettings regularly renovate houses replacing old toilets with new. Upon final inspection one tenant, seeking to avoid cleaning costs, argued that a filthy toilet, “Was already like that!” (covered in poo and lime scale)…. Tales of the unexpected:
“Don’t you remember?”, I asked.
“Remember what?”
“It was a brand new toilet – never used before you!”
… Tales of the unexpected:
As recollection dawned… in slow motion, his face transformed from ashen grey to bright beetroot. He cleaned the brown toilet leaving it nice and white

Reasons to be boldly unsweet or even en suite …

In the middle of renovating a house during a summer vacation a prospective tenant attended to see the progress. Whilst on-site she phoned me to ask if she could have a private en-suite bedroom. I explained we had already explored such possibility and regrettably the builders had already advised there was nowhere to put it. This lady was nothing if not persistent and in the end I said faithlessly, “Ask the builders if they can fit you an en suite and if they can you can have one”. I expected the builders to reply negatively.
… Tales of the unexpected:
Ending the phone call to me, the lady announced to the builders, “Bob says you have to build me an en-suite.” Believing the lady had my endorsement the builders reviewed the plans and between them came up with a unique way to do what she demanded. From now on, whenever the builders say no to me, I am asking this lady talk to the builders.

I Warn You, Charge Me Rent … And I’m Leaving!

Reasons to be free…
A fellow landlord after he stopped laughing told me that a prospective tenant had enquired about one of his houses. Asked who his current landlord is, he replied, Leydon Lettings. The landlord knowing Leydon Lettings asked why he was leaving?
… Tales of the unexpected:
: “I have not paid my rent and they are chasing me for money, so I am leaving!” The last I heard he was still looking for somewhere else!

Pride Comes Before A Fall…

The Writing Is On the Wall. Daniel 5:5 in the Holy Bible
Or… in the words of Adlai Stevenson1900-1965 “Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that he sometimes has to eat them.”

Reasons to be hilariously humbled…
When carrying out any renovation work, Leydon Lettings inform the necessary authorities. A building control inspector attended a house Leydon Lettings renovated. I won’t name the inspector or the house. We had just constructed a new wall. Most builders at that time would have used ordinary plasterboard, but from experience of sound transmission between rooms Leydon always use a more expensive and dense “sound insulation board”. The local builder’s merchant had never stocked it until we innovatively ordered it. This was only available in two sizes: 12.5 and 15mm thick with a distinctive blue colour. Notwithstanding the additional density, the inspector measured the board and telephoned stating an additional layer was required since it was only 9mm and not the prescribed 12.5mm thick. I explained that there must be some mistake, since this product was not actually available in less than 12.5mm. The inspector insisted he had just measured it and assured me it was only 9mm. Having had hot and cold dealings with this inspector previously, I stated I would ring the builder’s merchant and ask what thickness they had delivered. Having troubled the merchant to rake over their records they eventually responded with what I already knew – I had received 12.5mm and 15mm and that it was not possible to buy 9mm.

I then telephoned the inspector and echoed this affirmation. The inspector insisted he knew better. The more I protested; the more the inspector dug in his heels. “Are you trying to tell me how to do my Job?”, the inspector blurted rhetorically. “I would never do such a thing I responded politely”, and said I would telephone the builder and ask him to physically measure the thickness of the board – frankly knowing the outcome. “Do me a favour I asked the builder, stop what you are doing and go and measure the thickness of the wall board in question. “I don’t need to measure it”, replied the builder “it’s 12.5 mm.” I groaned… “You know that – and I know that, but we still need to persuade the building inspector.” “Bob, I am telling you… it is 12.5mm”, he insisted.” Having wasted enough time I begged, “Humour me – just measure the wall, will you?”.
… Tales of the unexpected:
“I don’t need to measure it”, laughed the builder, “It’s written all over the bleedxxg wall – 12.5mm!”
The wall board had not yet been plastered and the thickness of the board was written in ink, repeatedly, like wallpaper, in huge bold type, on each and every board, face outward, obviating the need to measure anything. It transpired the inspector had measured the tapered edge thickness whilst ignoring ‘the writing on the wall!’ I then had the impossible task of advising the inspector, in such a way as to spoon-feed the least consumption of humble pie – with a huge involuntary grin on my face!

Get Connected:

Reasons to be optimistic..

A new tenant – the first to arrive, reported the internet not working – Leydon Lettings provide fast speed internet. This was a newly renovated house with state-of-the-art Cat5e cabling to all rooms.
… Tales of the unexpected:
Following investigation it transpired that the tenant had recently reformatted his computer (so there were no internet settings). The house offered a choice of hard-wired or wireless connection. With no cable to connect he attempted to connect wirelessly but his computer had no wireless-card either.

He would have had more luck sending a pigeon. Our computer man got it working for him and without charge to him – so everyone was cheerful in the end!

How Can I Sell You Your Own Land, With A Riddle… ?

Reasons to be well grounded. ..
Having just renovated another house, we were recommended a landscape gardener to finish the garden. “Oh that soil of yours is full of stones and clay, no good to ‘no-one'”. Announced the gardener authoritatively. “We’ll need to cart away that rubbish soil of yours and deliver some proper top soil, it’s the only way!”. Foolishly, I agreed to pay for the removal of our old earth and the delivery of a couple of lorry loads of new top soil. I arrived towards the end of the work.
… Tales of the unexpected:
It was firstly disappointing not to be able to find my new concreted rotary clothes post. This had clearly been forcibly removed to prevent it acting as a depth gauge betraying the lack of soil ‘not delivered’. The lorry had a small heap of stones on board but the garden was now ‘finished’. Logically the stones would first have had to be removed before the new topsoil arrived. And, with the stones still on board, I could not reconcile how they had managed to deliver the new top soil in the same lorry? I could not help but notice the similarity of the colour of the relatively small quantity of “rubbish soil” mixed with the equally smallish pile of stones still on the back of the lorry. This old rubbish soil was remarkably similar in colour and texture to that of the ‘new’ garden top soil. More remarkably the ‘new’ garden top soil even included the same colour stones and clay. Such dedication to deliver soil exactly matching my own! The depth was also amazingly shallow? I was not about to buy my own soil after they had riddled it through a sieve. Accordingly they were paid for riddling the stones and I removed the remaining stones with a rake. I also had to buy a new rotary clothes post!

Drugs – Nothing to do with me… is it… officer?

Reasons to be embarrassed. ..
This tale can also be found on the drugs page.
A group of housemates were sitting watching TV one evening. All but one house-mate was present. None took drugs, but they knew their absent house-mate did take illegal drugs… but that was his affair – wasn’t it? As he arrived they heard the entrance door close and his footsteps disappear upstairs as many times before. No one gave it a second thought. Had the house-mates any inkling of what was about to happen they would certainly not have chosen him as a house mate. But, well… I mean… it was just a few puffs, nothing serious really, so what did it matter…?
Tales of the unexpected:

Nearby, ensconced around the corner, a police van was parked; the contents poised awaiting the drug taker’s arrival. Inside the blacked out vehicle, a veritable army of riot-like police officers were about to descend upon the house-mates and disturb their nonchalant world.

The police had reason to believe that the house-mate who had just arrived had illegal drugs on his possession. It would have made no difference even if the drug taker was just a visitor, the consequence would be the same. Only the venue mattered; the house concealed illegal drugs.
Hitherto, had the tenants countenanced the consequences, they could be forgiven for crying, not guilty! Unfortunately this is not merely innocence but plain naivety. Complicity has consequences. Within seconds, just like the TV program, “The Bill”, the front door was knocked in without permission or warning. Inside, the unsuspecting tenants remained seated (if not frozen to their seats), still in front of the TV – but no one was watching the TV now! A live performance of, The Bill, was being played out for real in their lounge – and they were the characters. Somehow drugs now had their undivided attention. It mattered not whether anyone was adding the finishing touches to an assignment, having a shower, or sat on the toilet! The police entered without regard to timing or dignity. A loud shout “police stay where you are,” and everyone froze. The police quickly entered every room whether or not locked. Any toilets were instantly accessed – so drugs evidence was not flushed away. If one happened to be sat on the toilet at the time of the police entrance it would make no difference. Each person was courteously subjected to a naked body search – by a same sex officer. “I have never been so embarrassed in all my life” said one. “the most terrifying experience” commented another”. So think again before you turn a benign eye to your house-mates’ drug taking?

Alternatively if you take drugs, do you still think it is acceptable to potentially subject your house-mates to such humiliation and terror? What is more, if illegal drugs are found, any entry damage is the responsibility of the tenants – not the police.

The Tooth Fairy – pull the other one!

Reasons to be a believer…
Having pre-arranged an appointment with my dentist I was subsequently faced with the possibility of a tenant arriving for the first time and at the same time as my dental appointment. Realising this, I made contingency plans for someone else to enable access in the unlikely event of simultaneous arrival. The tenant was no less than the Bishop of Jerusalem, together with his family. They stayed at one of our houses during the Canterbury Lambeth Conference 2008. Travelling from Jerusalem, meant no accurate arrival time could be predicted. The telephone rang, just at the moment I was about to leave for my dental appointment, “We have arrived in Canterbury”. I then sought to contact my substitute, but his phone would not respond. So I left a message cancelling my dental appointment and attended to our Holy arrivals.
… Tales of the unexpected:
The next morning, perchance, one of the Bishop’s daughters required urgent dental treatment suffering from odontology – i.e. toothache! Not being locals, on their behalf, I attempted to arrange an appointment using whatever influence I still retained with my dismayed dentist (who fortunately happens to be a very close friend). For this reason I also explained in detail the reason for, and irony of, my own late cancellation the previous day. I was not name-dropping, merely trying to rescue my tenant from the unholy toothache. Some months later, on a routine visit to my dentist, I found he had compiled a hilarious three page collection of excuses as to why patients had failed to keep appointments (probably compiled whilst waiting on failed appointments). Entitled, “The Tooth Fairy”, by Lawrence Green – my entry, whilst absolutely true, was the least believable, “Sorry I can’t make it, the Bishop of Jerusalem has just arrived”. One couldn’t make it up! I forgot to remind His Holiness to stoop when entering the door to avoid knocking the mitre off his head? The Bishop and his family were absolutely lovely with no complaints from the neighbours about noisy parties!

When is the cleaner arriving?

Reasons to be unclean
Very occasionally our summer professional cleaning is not up to standard. It is always the outgoing tenant’s responsibility to leave a house clean. When not done properly, we engage cleaners and pass on the cost to those responsible. However, Leydon is responsible to ensure the house is clean upon arrival. So whatever condition the house is left in, we always get professional cleaners to finish it off, so there is no dispute about the condition upon arrival. (Remember the new toilet story …?). A recent arrival telephoned demanding to know when all the pizza boxes and dirty laundry and sink full of dirty dishes would be cleaned. This did not sound at all like our cleaners so we double checked – yes the house was spotless upon arrival.
… Tales of the unexpected:
Inquiries revealed that the tenant was from a wealthy family with servants and was unaware we do not provide an ongoing cleaning service. Still, it’s never too late to learn some basic skills whilst eating humble pizza.

Who Me?

Reasons to be exasperated…
Often the first house-mate will arrive on 1st July. The last house mate may not arrive until mid September or later. Whilst the first to arrive can see the house is clean, this may not be so for later arrivals. On one occasion the first to arrive had her friends living in the house for the entire summer, using all the facilities. Then when her house-mates arrived, with parents in tow, they were shocked at the sight of a filthy house and piles of dishes and rubbish bags not put out for collection. Phone calls and emails of complaint followed from parents and house-mates.
Tales of the unexpected:
Meantime the original messy tenant had gone off on holiday, just prior to term starting. Whilst the culprit was sunning herself in Spain we were left to explain! Then, detached from the memory of what she had left behind, she returned from Sunny Spain and retorted – who me? Nooooh… it was already like that! Other landlords readily identify with this very common scenario.

Big beds and small desks where are your priorities

Reasons to be a student … .

I think this tale is my all time favourite. Prior to a new tenant arriving, her grandmother from an area around Russia announced she was coming to inspect the accommodation.
Accompanied by her granddaughter, Granny displayed shock and horror when she saw the bedroom. The room was reasonably sized and ideally situated, almost opposite Christchurch University. What’s not to like? The furniture included a double bed, which granny claimed dwarfed the size of the desk and office chair. “Beeeeeee-g be-duh …, leeeeeee-tol desk …? ooo-wer aaare yooar priow-ri-teez!? She eez hee-arrr to wooerrrk! ” Granny demanded we replace the double bed with a single.
Tales of the unexpected:
Meanwhile out of Granny’s hearing her granddaughter whispered,
“Dowan’t yoh der tek uhwey maeee doebal bed!” Goodnight!

“The Magic Porridge Pot”

Reasons to believe in Murphy’s Law. ..
It was our intention to progressively upgrade all our houses to include as many dishwashers as possible. This was received with delight although we had not envisaged the high ongoing cost to maintain them and deal with leak damage when they went wrong. To minimise damage from leaks we then invented a flood prevention system based on gravity drainage. This was involuntarily tested within ten days of installation. A phone message late at night exclaimed the dishwasher had flooded, when left on after all had gone to bed. Heading straight for the house I inwardly smiled at my ingenuity and timely decision to invest in flood prevention. The damage could now only be minimal – couldn’t it?. The flood system relies upon water falling down by gravity into a drain.
Unfortunately in this instance the engineer reported the tenants appeared to have used washing up liquid. In denial the tenants claimed merely to have used cheap dishwasher tablets. The result – excessive soap bubbles.
… Tales of the unexpected:
Reminiscent of the words from the children’s fable, “Stop pot stop!” “The Magic Porridge Pot”, The bubbles continued bubbling up and over, filling the room. Instead of falling down the drain, the lightweight bubbles floated up, and spread outwards, before condensing onto the floor, leaving our flood drain dry and our new floor very wet!

Who’s been stealing my bed?

A group viewed a number of our properties selecting one. They signed the contract before Christmas and arrived the following September. “What have you done with our double beds? We want our double beds back!”, they demanded. “What double beds?” We asked. “The ones that were there when we viewed the property.” Confused we stated, “The house has the same beds that were there prior to purchase.” Accusations followed. “No no the tenants explained , originally there double beds but now they are singles. You must have replaced the doubles with single beds!”

Tales of the unexpected:

A little deduction led us to realise what happened to the phantom beds. Most of our houses include double beds, however, some recent aquisitions did not yet feature doubles, just single beds purchased with the properties. The group of tenants had viewed so many houses before accepting this one that they became totally confused about what they had viewed and what they merely imagined.

What A Shower!

Reasons to be wet…
Occasionally we receive calls about things not working. This is most common when new tenants arrive and have not figured everything out. One new tenant asked if we could send a plumber to fix the shower. After establishing she was at the house and using her mobile phone I first asked her to check all the fuses were on and pointing upwards. I then asked her to go upstairs to the bathroom in question.
Tales of the unexpected:
Then I asked, “Pull the pull-cord power switch on,” at which point she exclaimed, “What’s that noise?!”

Ho Hum.

Reasons to be cool …
An existing tenant complained the fridge was not working. Having categorically assured me that it was broken and that there was no point in checking or effecting a repair, I went the same day to Currys and collected a new fridge. Before unwrapping it I first had to remove the defective fridge and unplug the old one.
Tales of the unexpected:
As it happens one of the tenants had already unplugged it for me. I pondered, “I’ll just plug it in to make sure it is not actually working” sure enough with a reassuring hum, it froze into action. Ho hum. It is still working to this day.

The Princess And The Pea.

Reasons to be comfy …
Most of our beds now include orthopedic mattresses. We initially introduced these to help students suffering back pains often exacerbated by sitting for long periods at a computer desk.
… Tales of the unexpected:
On seeing his house-mate get a new mattress, one envious student suddenly feigned back-ache. Placing one hand behind his back and leaning back unconvincing onto this hand he sought to evoke sympathy to secure a new orthopedic mattress for himself. Realising the rouse I popped the original normal mattress (just replaced by the new mattress) on top of his existing normal mattress with the offer of more to follow if required. The next time I visited, his back had evidently healed with only one mattress on the bed! A very amusing try – I wonder if he ever found his princess as in the Hans Christian Anderson’s novel. “And another thing… stop putting vegetables in my bedding… it’s perverse!” (Sky Broadband Advert).

Follow That Van!

Reasons to watch your tail…
A group of tenants agreed to their photo being stuck to our maintenance van advertising Leydon Lettings. Driving along the road the van driver observed that whichever direction he drove he was being followed by a determined driver. To be certain he was not simply going the same direction the driver took a u-turn. Still he was being tailed! Who was this car stalker?
… Tales of the unexpected: “Can’t Take My Eyes of You…”
Arriving ultimately at the destination the van stopped, whilst the driver of the car following pulled up behind the van and immediately leapt out announcing with awe and amazement, whilst pointing to one of the girls in the photographic advert… “That’s my girlfriend”. Shucks! Doubtless she would reciprocate…”That’s My Boy!”

Rubbish I can’t see it!

Reasons to be sure no good deed goes unpunished.

During the summer when our student tenants were absent I noticed various items ensconced behind hedgerows. Taking it upon myself to spend the day clearing the entire estate I eventually unearthed 14 trolleys a dozen highway signs some discarded barbeques etc. I placed all this ready for the trolley hotline service to recover the trolleys and highways department to remove the signs etc. Meantime an angry neighbour demanded to know who I was but before I could answer went on to demand to know what was going to happen to the rubbish. I could hardly get a word in edgeways he was so angry. All the while the rubbish was concealed he was not complaining but now that I had unearthed it, he was furious.
… Tales of the unexpected:
The rubbish was always there; it is not like I went out of my way to dump the rubbish. But now it was in a heap awaiting colletion it was now unsightly.

All that’s rubbish does not glitter!

Reasons to skip

During the summer we regularly conduct renovation and maintenance works requiring a skip.
The tenants of one particular group chose to store their belongings in an empty kitchen bin, during the summer! I know… I know! it is crazy, but it is absolutely true! With a new tenant joining the existing continuing group we cleaned common areas and emptied the bin into the skip outside the house. The tenants returned prematurely in late August, angry to see their discarded goods in the skip!
… Tales of the unexpected:
It is frustrating to be castigated for doing what was logically the right thing, to avoid compaints about rubbish!.
Had the new tenant arrived before the bin was emptied they would have had reasonable cause to complain if the bin was not emptied – sometimes it is impossible to get it right!

Reasons to be legal.

Is it a legal requirement?
Reasons to be a live wire!

Gas certificates are a legal requirement absent which a criminal conviction is likely.
Some certificates if not provided are not illegal per se. However, it is illegal to let a property if it is unsafe. The easiest way to prove the house was safe at any given point in time, following an incident, is to provide a safe certificate with a date.
One Landlord remonstrated that it was not a legal requirement to provide a PAT test or an electric certificate. After explaining the need for a certificate to prove safety he agreed to comply.
… Tales of the unexpected:
I then visted the property prior to accepting tenants only to find a broken ceiling-light fitting with exposed electrical terminals.
This property if let would be illegal even if there was a safety certificate. The presence of a certificate would show that despite being illegal, the landlord had attempted to discharge his duty of care to his tenants to provide safe housing.
The absence of a certificate was not illegal, but failure to provide safe housing is illegal! Failure to produce certification merely confirms that the landlord was negligent and thus guilty of an offence under the following:
The landlord and Tenant Act 1985 section 8 & 11; The house must be safe immediately prior to and during a tenancy.
The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 – duty of owner / manager to provide certification within 7 days of demand by authorities.
The Electrical Equipment(Safety) Regulations 1994 – all properties let for profit require the owner to ensure they are safe.
The Housing Act 2004 incorporating the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (statistical risk analysis) HHSRS – comprising 29 points to comply with, listed under five headings, including electrical safety and the need to conduct a risk assessement relative to the risks posed both by the property and to the occupant. Very young tenants will be less aware than older tenants but very old tennts may be frail and require additional handrails etc. This same Housing Act 2004 also introduced Mandatory Licensing for Large HMOs from 2006 and Discretionary Licensing for small HMOs.(at the discretion of LAs not landlords)

Reasons to have a ball or to be alarmed:

Reason to Choke
The Summer ball was set and tenants throughout Canterbury were showering, shaving, applying lippy and glamming up for the summer ball. Sound the sirens and let the ball begin!
Excitement filled the air together with something else…? GAS!
The office telephone was hot with reports of alarms simultaneously sounding throughout Canterbury.
There must be a massive mains leak, we reasoned, to have affected such a wide area all at the same time.
Fortunately we had earlier this that year for the first time fitted gas detectors to all Leydon Lettings’ properties.
… Tales of the unexpected:
Designed to protect tenants safety by preempting a gas explosion these devices also detect the toxic fumes from aerosols for body and hair spray products.
Hundreds of our sweet smelling tenants had neglected to follow the instructions on the tin – use in a well ventilated area.
Our detectors whiffed the onerous odours and deafened all.
Our tradesmen almost keeled over when attending, reporting near suffocation levels.
What initially presented as a frantic widespread emergency soon became a reason to choke… I mean chortle.

Rats or rafters…

Reasons to Run!
Left inside the property, on a first floor veranda, the owner forgot I was there and locked the veranda door, from inside, then went shopping. Trapped outside on the first floor balcony, with no one to hear my shouts for help, the heavens suddenly opened with the wind blowing the rain towards me.  From the veranda, I climbed down a nearby slippery drain pipe – in the heavy rain. I emerged soaked and looking like Wurzel Gummidge, through bushes and mud on the ground. Breathing a sigh of relief at my restored freedom, I was as yet unaware that my troubles had only begun. Trapped in the rear walled-garden, the downpour continued with the only exit through the rear unlocked garage door, over a cluttered garage floor, with no visible floor space to walk on and little natural light to see. Worse, I was earlier warned to avoid the rat poison and traps left by the pest controller, as the garage was infested with rats! The risk of rats near my ankles meant I could neither clamber over the precariously stacked possessions, nor walk on the floor, which was too cluttered to see my footing or any rodent residents. With no other way out to the front, other than through the garage, and now shivering with cold, necessity prompted a brainwave.
… Tales of the unexpected:
The garage had rafters all the way along the roof from front to back and there was a step ladder enabling me to climb up and leap onto the first rafter. From the first I was able to swing Tarzan-like to the second, third etc. ultimately dropping down from the last rafter by the clearer floor at the front garage doors, through which I escaped home to a hot bath. Too old and heavy to do all that now. This is absolutely true, though I would not believe it, if told to me.

The Black Hole

Reasons ot to use a comfort blanket
Checking smoke alarms one day I thought… this would be the ideal time to check fire blankets too. Are they intact and in place? Carefully pulling out a fire blanket, apparently perfectly intact, I unfolded what became a “black-hole.” There it was! smack in the middle of the blanket, framed in charcoal – the potential window of death. For fear of being challenged or charged; blamed or berated the “responsible” tenant (there’s an oxymoron) concealed the hole in the blanket.
… Tales of the unexpected:
Following a fire, the housemate carefuly (another irony) folded the blanket so neatly as to conceal its secret centre before returning the blanket of death to its holder. The tenant had prepared this blanket “ready for an emergency?!” Could anyone bequeath less contempt for the potential life of a fellow housemates?

The Shower Wardrobe

Reasons to be thankful
In circa 1996 we renovated a record number of houses mostly for student tenants.  Students reserved houses at that time from late October - ahead of the following academic year which commenced the following July in order to secure early the best available student houses.  We cautiously advised the prospective tenants that the house was let 'as seen'.  Nevertheless, we explained that we were hopeful we might be able to enhance their property by adding six ensuite bathrooms free of charge (in addition to any communal bathrooms).  Two months prior to the scheduled tenant's arrival date we contacted and advised we were unlikely to effect the anticipated improvements which would have to wait until the following summer vacation.  The tenants were dissapointed but agreed we could make a good start and conduct whatever improvements we could manage in the limited available time remaiing.  There was no pressure on anyone but the tenants were clearly very keen for us to go ahead to enable the enhancements, particularly since we were not charging for the free upgrades.   We also fitted a new energy efficient boiler, new fire doors throughout, new flooring throughout, a new double kitchen, two fridges, two freezers, two kitchen sinks and drainers, a new dishwasher and new washingmachine and significantly, seven - yes seven, new bathrooms, The property was habitable by the time of our tenant's first arrivals with contractors finishing off cleaning as the first students entered with their parents. Some potentially minor issues required completion after their occupation - some of the showers were not yet working.  One parent complained bitterly that only three of the seven showers were connected and that as a surveyor for a local authority he could assure me the house was therefore not compliant.  I explained that for six tenants the minimum requirement for an HMO was only two toilets with washing facilities and we had povided more than that with three showers.   "You can't tell me that six studnets are expected to manage with only two bathrooms"?  "That's exactly what I am saying" I replied.  The tenants and parents left and complained to the university authorities, who confirmed my comments. 
… Tales of the unexpected:
Finally a tenant telephoned and we reminded them that we had gone to extrordinary lengths to bless them free of charge and we had it in writing that there were no ensuites provided in the agreement.  "So what do you propose to do with the showers that do not work?" they asked.  I advised we would be happy to fit a clothes rail within the shower cubicle to enable an additional wardrobe or, with their permission, we could ask the plumber to finish the connection in less than a day and enable use of all your free showers.  The tenants agreed to the latter and the plumber attended and simply turned on the concealed isolation valves in less than a minute enabling all the showers to immediately work.

The Landlords Bathbrush - Tenant Rinsing!

Reasons to love seals - with grunts.
We received a call from a group of tenants - "the house has flooded".  We arranged to have the damage repaired costing a four figure sum.  The tenants admitted liability by allowing the bath water to rise above the bath overflow - but the water was nevertheless still contained within the bath.  The overflow outlet was fitted by a plumber instructed directly by the landlord (a plumber whom we had previously stopped using, when he failed to properly fit a pipe, resulting in a similar a separate house).  The landlord insisted that since the tenants had admitted liabilty it was unquestionabley their fault, and they should thus be made to pay the repair costs.  I disagreed with the landord and attempted to reason without sucess that the lanldord must shoulder the responsibility and meanwhile recover any losss from the negligent plumber.  Sadly we lost our client defending the tenants.  The landlord was not willing to consider her plumber might be at fault.
… Tales of the unexpected:
The fault lay not with the tenants by allowing the water to fill the bath very full well above the drain outlet but without overflowing the bath itself.  The fault was with the plumber who had failed to secure the unseen poor conection behind the bath, negligently allowing the bath-water to slowly escape, whilst the tenant remained in the bath with the taps running oblivious of the leak and consequential damage.

Suck It Up

Reasons to avoid getting sick.
We received a call explaining the vacuum cleaner was not working.  Moreover it smelled really bad.  Coincidently we received a separate call from the house next door advising their vacuum cleaner was also not working.  Applying economy of effort I attended with two replacement vacuum cleaners and hoses. Sure enough both vacuum cleaners were defective.  The one reportly smelly cleaner did not smell as bad as expected and was resolved quickly by replacing the bag.  The second vacuum cleaner not reportedly smelly, stunk unbearably.
… Tales of the unexpected:
The tenants had been sick and sucked it into the vacuum cleaner blocking the hoses.  The hoses had to be washed in boiling water to disolve their thick sickly contents - ugh!

Daily I Shower but Daily I Smell?

Reasons to be fragrent.
Our tenant was a very likeable character who showered daily - indeed he showered more frequently than all the other tenants put together.  His housemates couldn't understand why, therefore, he still smelled so bad.  No amount of complaining changed the smell until one day it dawned on one observant tenant they had never seen the tenant in question use the washingmachine.  
… Tales of the unexpected:
Wen confronted the tenant sheepishly explained he didn't know how to use the washingmachine and that is why he'd nevrer washed his clothes.  He naively deduced regular showers obviated the need to wash his clothes!

Sad At Christmas

Reasons to be lonely.
Approaching Christmas I visited a house with some tenants unable to afford a Christmas tree.  Determined to cheer them up I bought them a beautiful tree and smothered it in baubles and tinsel and left them, I thought, with a warm glow in bonhomie.  So I was surprised when I next visited, soon after, to observe their tree was already dismantled and stripped bare of baubles.
… Tales of the unexpected:
The poor tenants sadly explained that the tree only served to remind them of how little they had and how isolated they were with little to be merry about.  They felt much better when the tree no longer reminded them of how unhappy they were.


Reasons to deny.
Our Tenant nightly got up to urinate. Believing he was in the loo he did so
… Tales of the unexpected:
The tenant was unaware that he was nowhere near the toilet, but instead, in the lounge and in the full presence of other housemates urinated against the lounge radiator!  In the morning he indignantly denied it could possibly have been him.

Buying Blind

Reasons to look.
As a landlord I bought properties at a time when, by the time of arriving at the viewing, the house had already been sold.  Previously invited to buy a house, but unable to view quickly enough, I gambled and bought blind - without viewing and the property remains one of our most profitable to this day. - so I was lucky!  Invited to buy a second house in a desireable area, at what purported to be a bargain price, I advised I could not visit for three days.  The agent advised that by then the house would unlikely still be available.  On hearing the low price I announced "there can't be any houses in that area worth less than that amount?"  So, expecting a repeat of my luck I again bought blind.  The agent selling the house new he could rely on my word and that my word is my bond, so having agreed, I could not go back on my word.
… Tales of the unexpected:
Three days later I went to visit my bargain.  As I approached the street before seeing the property I sudenly felt sick.  I recalled having rejected a house in this area the previous year and began to dread that it might be the same house.  Sure enough as the address matched I realised I had previously rejected the house offered at £20,000 less than the current price I had agreed three days earlier.  My bargain comprised a prefabricated post war house with asbestos roof and small rooms.  I never agin bought blind and sold the house many years later and made a small profit.

Expensive Downpipe

Reasons to cringe.
Having applied for a mortgage the lender's surveyor reported the house suffered damp and a £10,000 retention was imposed until the damp was resolved.
… Tales of the unexpected:
I examined a downpipe and observed it was cast iron and had cracked, allowing water to escape down the wall.  At 5pm I collected a new plastic downpipe together with a new hopper head and pipe clips.  By 6 pm I was on my way home for tea having swopped the downpipe and screw fitted the retaining clips.  The fastest £10,000 I ever earned!

Burned Out

Reasons to switch off.
A vexatious tenant who left owing arrears of rent turned on every ensuite shower in the entire house.  Leaving the house and locking the door the showers continued to run until we were able to inspect the property.
… Tales of the unexpected:
When I arrived I could hear some strange moaning-like noises coming from the now dry showers.  The tenant's actions had resulted in the electric shower units burning out.  Why would anyone do such a thing?.

Kindness Costs Nothing - Really?

Reasons to rethink.
A group of students agreed to rent a house - commencing the following academic year.  A few month's later they invited me to join them for a coffee and a chat.  We met in a high street cafe where they introduced me to their housmate who suffered a deteriorating disability.  They explained that whilst the tenant was presently able to walk there was a real risk that wheelchair access might be necessary prior to the start of the tenancy.  They kindly asked whether it might be possible for me, as landlord, to make alterations to the house to suit the developing disability.  I immediately responded advising it would be an honour to do everything possible to help the tenant and asked them to guide me as to what alterations might be most beneficial.  There was no legal obligation for me to agree this, only a moral desire to look after our tenants. So as soon as we could, we arranged for builders to resite the front door so there would no longer be a step up.  The new location included a gentle ramp the length of the front garden, all the way to the new front door of the house, without need of assistance to push a wheelchair.  To enable access more easily we fitted a new extra wide 33" external door.  Once inside we replaced all the groundfloor doors with wider 33" firedoors, enabling internal ease of access to the entire ground floor.  We then asked our electricians to lower all the light switches and raise all the wall sockets to be more accessible from a wheelchair.  This involved rewiring the entire house including hardwired internet cable connections.  We then fitted a disabled ensuite and a separate room for the carer.  All for no extra charge.
… Tales of the unexpected:
On arrival, following completion of the works, prior to the start of the academic year, the tenants appeared to genuinely appreciate our efforts.  However, the disabled tenant's parent did not think we had done enough and threatened to report us to the authorities.  Sometimes, 'a strong sense of entitlement' means one can never do enough for others.  Fortunately, we do not make such sterling efforts to receive praise - we certainly didn't get any from the parent.  'A stronge sense of what is right' remains sufficient motivation.

Knock It Down!

Reasons to avoid demolition.
A building control inspector, (the same one described elsewhere in these tales) clearly took a disliking to me.  I don't know why - I was always polite to him and never rude. On seeing a property I had just purchased, he advised that the extension would have to be demolished.  I wanted to renovate the extension and to put what is known as a warm roof on it instead.  This involved removing the existing heavy weight asbestos roof covering and replacing it with a similar weight modern alternative material.  The inspector advised that as the roof was different it would have to comply with current rules and the timber ceiling joists required to comply would be too heavy for the brick structure.  He gave me a really hard time insiting demolition was the only way. 
… Tales of the unexpected:
So I engaged a structural engineer who showed categorically that demolition was not necessary.  It remains to this day.

Pitch Black - Oh No It Isn't!

Reasons to rip it down.
A house we were renovating required a wall to be coated with a sticky black pitch paint before then being built over by another inner wall.  This was all inspected by a reasonable building control inspector and approved.  Meantime the inspector went on holiiday and whilst away another building control inspector attended.  Rather than accept our word that his kinder colleage had already approved the works, this vexatious inspector insisted we tear the inner wall down to check the outer wall was in fact treated with the pitch paint.
… Tales of the unexpected:
On tearing the wall down we revealed the compliant wall.  Did we receive an appology or reimbursement?  Not from this building control inspector - he was our nemesis.  This same inspector did everything possible to hamper our sterling efforts on many such projects.  Thankfully he retired.  Why didn't I report him?  I am not vexatious like him.

Converting Complaints to Compliments

Reasons to be kind.
We received an unfavourable review from one of our hundreds of tenants.  The tenant complained that the internet was slow and the door lock was defective and advised prospective tenants to go to a competitor.  I explained to the tenant that I knew the competitor she recommended and they did not provide the internet (at that time in circa 2003).  And, the competitor did not provide bedroom door locks, arguing they hampered an exit in a fire.  I exlained that there were occassions when the internet was slow for reasons no fault of the landlord and that the as the tenant had not reported the defective lock we were unaware it required fixing.  I exlained gently that I was more than happy to replace the sticking lock and in future just to let us know if further assistance is required. I also reminded the tenant that she had not one but two rooms for the price of one and that was a really good deal for her.
… Tales of the unexpected:
When I got home I was delighted to receive a glowing revue from the same tenant.  Converting the old revue, the tenant now advised I was a great landlord because I provided the internet and bedroom door locks when other landlrod's didn't!  Love it.

Pssss - Mums the Word!

Reasons to be quiet.
On arrival at a property mother and daughter examined the house and the tenant's ensuite room.  "There is no toilet mum exclaimed!"  "It's a shower ensuite.  Some tenants have full ensuite's whilst other have only shower ensuites and still others may have no ensuites.  However because so many tennats have ensuites the main bathroom has less demand," I explained.  "That's disgusting!  It's obvious what's going to happen if there's no ensuite toilet, isn't it?" Mum insisted expectantly.  "I'm sorry... I don't understand" I replied.  "What's going to happen?"
… Tales of the unexpected:
"The shower will be used as a toilet."  Such a thought never entered my head, but when offerred a non-ensuite the daughter insisted on staying put.

Long Memory!

Reasons to remember - lest we forget!
A group of tenants arrived at their period property together and, initially, appeared to get along well.  After a while one tenant complained she was unhappy with her room as the boiler in her cupboard kept her awake.  Her fellow housemate sympathised and agreed to swop rooms as the boiler 'hum' did not bother her - indeed she preferred her new room.  However, once in her new room the same tenant again complained about other noises and wanted her old room back.  Meanwhile, the original room had been dressed to suit the replacement tenant and understandably she didn't want the hastle of moving back to her old room and refused to swop a second time.  The tenant again complained this time to our agency about her housemates and the noise and we agreed to swop her to another house closer to town centre and as a more modern house enjoy potentially better acustics.  The tenant agreed to the move but at the last moment decided not to move in after all.  Meanwhile, other tenants had been turned away in favour of this tenant and college term had now commenced by which time students were no longer looking for accommodation so a replacement could not be found resulting in a void.
… Tales of the unexpected:
The tenant waited six years bofore complaining about our kind involvement .  Her complaint after six years neglected to mention our kindness..