Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Do I Look like the Blocked Plughole Fairy? Victoria Whitlock Spells out Rights and Responsibilities to Tenants Who Expect Her to Magic Away Every Little Household problemThe Accidental Landlord

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Do I Look like the Blocked Plughole Fairy? Victoria Whitlock Spells out Rights and Responsibilities to Tenants Who Expect Her to Magic Away Every Little Household problemThe Accidental Landlord

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Whitlock

PERHAPS I accidentally gave my tenants the impression that I have magical powers because they seem to think that I can -- and should -- solve all their household problems, regardless of whether or not I am the cause.

A year into his tenancy, one guy, a foreigner, asked me if I could get rid of "all the little flies" that had recently appeared in the flat, as if I could prevent insects from flying in through the windows.

He showed me one of the "little flies" in the bedroom. It was a tiny moth. I told him to buy some moth traps but he seemed to think I ought to have provided these. I wonder if he would have liked me to provide wasp spray and maybe some ant powder, too? Some other tenants called me in a panic when they spotted a mouse in the kitchen. The presence of said mouse wasn't surprising, given that the tenants were in the habit of leaving the remains of last night's dinner and that morning's breakfast on the kitchen table every day when they went to work. Far be it from me to criticise anyone -- I'm so slovenly myself that my son asked if we were having guests when I got out the vacuum -- but if tenants' poor hygiene attracts vermin... well, I'm not the Pied Piper.

I got Rentokil Pest Control round to make sure there were no holes in the walls where mice could get into the property, but as the critters can squeeze through a gap no wider than a Biro, we had to explain to the tenants that it would be hard to keep mice out if they left food for them.

I have been asked to clear a blocked lavatory after one of the tenants in a shared flat dropped a loo roll down the pan and thought the sensible thing to do was to try to flush it away. When that failed, instead of rolling up their sleeves and fishing it out, they got out their mobile and called me. Another tenant called me in a rage after she had blocked the sewer with nappy wipes and her household waste was spilling all over the patio. …

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