Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Students Need a Lecture about Paying the Rent; Victoria Whitlock Is on the Warpath after Undergraduate Tenants Fall Immediately into Arrears -- but She Partly Blames Herself, tooThe Accidental Landlord

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Students Need a Lecture about Paying the Rent; Victoria Whitlock Is on the Warpath after Undergraduate Tenants Fall Immediately into Arrears -- but She Partly Blames Herself, tooThe Accidental Landlord

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Whitlock

EITHER I was kidnapped by aliens and given a lobotomy in my sleep, or I must have had what my grandmother used to call "a funny turn" because a few weeks ago, I agreed to let a flat to a group of second-year students, ignoring all the horror stories I have heard about undergraduates turning properties into pigsties.

I was probably swayed by the fact that this bunch weren't too shabby and they seemed mature for their age. Despite the fact that during the viewing I only got the briefest glimpse of their faces, which were almost permanently planted in their mobiles -- they just nodded occasionally when I spoke to them and said the odd "Uh-huh" -- I didn't get the impression they were the sort to throw wild parties.

If I am honest, I was probably also seduced by the fact that the girls were not much older than my own daughter, who will be looking for accommodation when she goes to university in the next couple of years. I suppose I was thinking that if I expect a landlord to accept her as a tenant, then I should be prepared to take a punt on this lot.

Or maybe I was just being lazy. They were the first to view, the first to put in an offer and I thought, what the heck, I'm sure it will be fine.

I was encouraged that they immediately handed over a holding fee and they were quick to send me references and details of their guarantors. The students paid their first month's rent a few days before they moved in, and on check-in day they turned up almost on time.

However, their second payment failed to materialise on the due date. Now, that's not unusual as tenants often forget to fill out the standing order for their bank in all the excitement of moving. So rather than going into full panic mode, I just emailed them a friendly reminder. They replied saying something along the lines of: "Oh yeah, we thought we'd wait for you to ask. …

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