Help with tackling a Cantankerous Tenant with House Cleanliness issues...

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    Help with tackling a Cantankerous Tenant with House Cleanliness issues...

    I rent a one bedroom back-to-back property to an elderly male relative (over 70 years of age).
    (A back-to-back property is similar to saying you have a quarter of a large house, with separate entrance, the bedroom and bathroom upstairs; kitchen, hall and lounge downstairs, sectioned separate garden outside.)

    The property was purchased and rented out to family member from 2007. The property was bought to specifically house this family member and at no point are we ever planning to evict them. I pointed out today that we all cleaned the house to a high standard in 2007, so that when they moved in the house was in a clean condition.

    I have recently spoken to the tenant about the cleanliness of the stairs and carpets upon an earlier visit, whereby dust is just visibly collecting on the staircase. I am talking about a layer of dust sitting on the surface and also large dust bunnies (balls) , not just little ones. I know that not everyone has the same standards of cleanliness – but pointed out that a lack of hoovering can damage the carpet fibres. Ironically, the tenant doesn’t hoover (despite new lightweight hoover of their choice being purchased – at their request), but swaps into his slippers after entering the house so that they don’t bring extra dirt in – I did point out that you need to hoover up existing dirt, otherwise you are just trampling existing dirt in regardless of your footwear choices upon entry into the house.

    Today, my elderly tenant today shows me his new toilet seat (purchased from the charity shop) and I get the horror of seeing the state of the bathroom. The previous carpet hoovering suggestions have also fallen on deaf ears.

    I am mortified that the a) outside of the toilet bowl is stained with streams of a yellow coloured liquid ( yes, I have my guesses) and that the b) toilet is visibly encrusted with scale and inside the bowl is yellow. The toilet didn’t appear to have been flushed on opening the new toilet lid – but that could be taken as a potential oversight. The carpet in the bathroom is beige and hasn’t been hoovered and I noted that there are discolouration stains around the bowl – again, speculation is rife as to what they are.

    The hand basin is mildly more cleaner than the toilet, however outside the basin has yellow coloured liquid stain marks (we do suffer from limescale in the area rented and where I live (2 mile radius) – I am guessing that these marks are not the same as the toilet).

    The bath – the sealant is black (I get that this happens), but the white plastic bath itself is a grimy black. I was absolutely horrified and asked my elderly tenant relative if they had heard of Viakal and if they were cleaning the bath regularly. It was reminiscent of watching one of the TV programmes where someone hasn’t cleaned up for a while and needs intervention, assistance or just a plain miracle.

    I was informed that the bath was black due to them drip drying their clean clothes in the bath, they however stand in a plastic contraption to shower and maximise water usage so they wouldn’t have made it dirty from mere usage. I suggested that the fact that the bath was this dirty was an indication that regular cleaning was not being done and potentially a weekly clean would sort out the dirt. I was informed that apparently you could clean the bath one day and within a couple of days it would be back to that state. So ‘clean laundry’ makes a bath dirty, grimy and black……
    The tenant then stated that they have got better things to do with their time than clean the house……and cleaning a house once a week, every week is ridiculous.

    So that’s the background – how do I now go about tactfully sorting out the issues?

    I’m not sure if I can suggest an eyetest, without being rude. I am positively swallowing my own tongue on that one, never mind biting it.

    If someone is struggling, I am more than happy to help out – but since the individual does not see an issue, I am at a loss going forward.
    I am quite willing to help out and clean up (I am not afraid to get stuck in and sweaty, been there; done that – LL standard practice btwn lets) – but I don’t know quite how to tackle this as an issue! Cleaning it would be fine – bleach and Viakal etc – but it’s up to them to have a certain level of cleaning and why should I do it, for it to fall back below par again?

    I have read a suggestion that I could get a professional cleaning company in – I can advise the tenant that their rent is being increased to cover these costs and maybe instigate a weekly clean to be done. I do worry that with stuff on the staircase (a canoe etc) that Health and Safety for a cleaner to get up the stairs with a vac would not be easy. Can I enforce this? I would have to have a one off clean or do a cracking job myself to get it to a good standard and then get someone in to do a regular clean (some agencies like it at least a clean standard, so that they have something to work from each week). What’s best thing on this one?

    I don’t want to come across as a bully, but do I just write a letter advising that these specific issues need to be addressed by x date and that they have 4 weeks to clean up? If no joy, be advised that I will invoke a cleaner and also higher rental payments? But obviously have a conversation with the tenant and then present them with the letter?
    This tenant is cantankerous (additional experiences, not just this isolated incidence) and will no doubt want to invoke some authority, if they moan about a rent review – is this good grounds for a raise (to cover cleaning costs) and that rent has not been raised for 5 years, it would still be within acceptable limits ( if rented on open market could easily get more money asap – once house cleaned/decorated!). The rent increase is therefore not unrealistic for the area or extra cost implications with the tenant’s inability to maintain a basic level of cleanliness.

    I won’t kick them out, so no to S21’s/8’s whereby if you don’t clean; say goodbye! The rent has not been raised since outset in 2007 – I appreciated that my elderly tenant was on a fixed pensionable income. I don’t receive much profit from their rental – although I have an asset over the lifetime of the tenancy. They don’t want to clean and now the house feels like it is deteriorating – but they do not believe that cleaning makes such an impact.

    I knew that when the tenant passes away I would potentially have to expect to rip out carpets, re-plaster a ceiling (water damage), but am I being unreasonable to expect that during the lifetime of their tenancy that whilst they are feasibly, physically, capable of cleaning – they should actually do some?

    On a practical note – are there any blindingly good reasons (other than stated above) for keeping a house clean that I can intimate to them?

    The kitchen seems to be ok – so no inferences need be made for rats/mice/ants etc.

    Where’s Aggie and Kim of ‘How Clean is Your House’ when you need them?? My student tenants on a bad day appear to have much better cleaning powers than my elderly male relative.

    Any advice any what to say/do/write……………………

    #2
    I do worry that with stuff on the staircase (a canoe etc)
    Hmm! Get a lot of damp in the place do you?

    I knew that when the tenant passes away I would potentially have to expect to rip out carpets, re-plaster a ceiling (water damage), but am I being unreasonable to expect that during the lifetime of their tenancy that whilst they are feasibly, physically, capable of cleaning – they should actually do some?
    No, you have no right to tell him how to live, except those you may have because he's a relative, he is renting the house from you, it is HIS home, your responsibility is to keep it in good repair and collect your rent.

    You would need to serve a notice to raise the rent.
    I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

    Comment


      #3
      Dusty,

      What made you think that your elderly relative would clean the place? Did he do so at his previous home? I think you have to accept that cleaning is not the same issue for elderly men as the rest of us.

      He sounds just like my father who lived alone for 20 years until he died in 1996. I also live alone, and have to be firm with myself not to go the same way.

      (Back in 1984, I arranged for all the limescale to be ground off Dad's pink 1959 cast iron bath. It looked beautiful, and I even bought him some stuff to clean it with. One year later, it was back to limescale white, and the stuff unopened on the shelf!)

      Comment


        #4
        Not sure if its any help but have you thought about contacting the council, let them know you are concerned he is not coping, I know for disabled people you can get so many hours cleaners from our council. Maybe that would be a possibility.

        If your that worried maybe offer to pay for a weekly cleaner, then when appropriate raise the cost of the rent to reflect this.

        Comment


          #5
          On a purely 'legal' approach - your tenant has an obligation to return the property to you in the same state of cleanliness as (you can prove) it was in when the tenancy began. That's it. If he doesn't, then you can attempt to claim the cost of cleaning from the tenant once the tenancy is over. In this situation, it may of course be from his estate, and you may decide just to swallow the cost of a deep clean.

          Comment


            #6
            He is probably immune to most germs by now and there is nothing whatsoever you can do about his indifference to cleaning.

            Just accept that when you finally regain possession, you will need to deep clean and refurbish.

            Good karma.
            'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

            Comment


              #7
              I agree with the other replies - that you are unlikely to get the old man to keep the place clean. He probably can't even see the dust on the stairs. However, in the bathroom black bacteria can be a health issue, and sometimes a bright pink growth can be found which I believe is even worse. Obviously wee dribbles and poo splatters are a health issue too. Carpet in a bloke's bathroom is not a good idea so perhaps you should replace this and make sure you mastic all joins thoroughly so the floorboards don't get soaked in wee dribbles. You just can't get this out and would have to replace the boards.
              Dust has health implications too - dust mites can affect breathing. Also if not vacuumed regularly you might get carpet beetles which are quite large and hide in corners and behind pipes etc.
              You say the kitchen is OK at the moment but with the passing of time your old man might not be as careful as he is now and sugar if not cleaned up will attract a variety of unwanted visitors. I suggest that you do something for your relative - get a cleaner to come in at least once every 2 weeks, can you get a carer's allowance, help from the council/help the aged, etc.
              Don't leave your relative in a bad state - you'll be the same one day!

              Comment


                #8
                Thank you for your helpful replies. Berlingogirl your points are most informative - I will take some of them forward. Snorkerz - something to chew over.

                I think I will plan some options and try to take something That is positive to all parties forward. When the tenant moved in there was some pride & cleanliness - so we had a misguided hope. No deterioration in mental/physical well-being of individual, so have found it hard to understand why there is an unwillingness to maintain a basic living standard.

                Btw - the tenant has a canoe, ski's and a dinghy! They are indicative of his hobbies (or recapturing the idea of them), rather than a reflection of the condition of the property. (Thanks for that jta). I wouldn't live in a damp place; therefore I do not expect my tenants to either.

                Cheers All. I'll take more advice, if others are happy to post it on the thread!

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by dusty View Post
                  Btw - the tenant has a canoe, ski's and a dinghy! They are indicative of his hobbies (or recapturing the idea of them), rather than a reflection of the condition of the property. (Thanks for that jta).
                  Well it was tongue in cheek.
                  I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by jta View Post
                    Well it was tongue in cheek.
                    What a dry sense of humour on a damp topic.

                    I did find your canoe comment hilarious!!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Having looked into Berlingogirl’s comments I found that:

                      Black mould, pink mold and not vacuuming carpets appear to have links to upper respiratory tract illnesses – the most common appears to be asthma.

                      Black mould can trigger three rare, but no less dangerous conditions: allergic fungal sinusitis, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

                      All three of these conditions are rare, and all occur most often in people who have compromised immune systems. Each of these conditions is serious and requires immediate medical treatment. They can even be deadly for those with already weakened immune systems, such as the elderly. (Extreme cases, but no doubt very unpleasant).

                      Pink mold is not mold, but a rod shaped bacterium called Serratia Marcescens. Serratia Marcescens, is involved in different infections in the human body, most commonly urinary tract infections and wound infections.

                      Carpets not being cleaned seem to lead to again, asthma, dust mites, mould, Athlete’s foot and Mycotoxins.
                      A nasty little mycotoxin producer; for example, Stachybotrys chartarum contains a higher number of mycotoxins than other moulds grown in the indoor environment and has been associated with allergies and respiratory inflammation.

                      Anyway, I just thought I’d add it to the post – just in case someone else might find it helpful.

                      As said in my previous post – thanks to all.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I don't think it's fair to judge a 70-year-old man on his cleaning prowess. Most people are lucky to still be capable of standing when 70, and you're bashing him on his cleaning of all things. And he's a relative as well? You best hope karma doesn't treat you so cruel when you are 70 and your young family are complaining that you should still be cleaning. I think, if I were in your situation, rather than complaining that my 70-year-old tenant who is ALSO family doesn't clean, I would hire a maid for them.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by dusty View Post
                          Having looked into Berlingogirl’s comments I found that:

                          Black mould, pink mold and not vacuuming carpets appear to have links to upper respiratory tract illnesses – the most common appears to be asthma.

                          Black mould can trigger three rare, but no less dangerous conditions: allergic fungal sinusitis, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

                          All three of these conditions are rare, and all occur most often in people who have compromised immune systems. Each of these conditions is serious and requires immediate medical treatment. They can even be deadly for those with already weakened immune systems, such as the elderly. (Extreme cases, but no doubt very unpleasant).

                          Pink mold is not mold, but a rod shaped bacterium called Serratia Marcescens. Serratia Marcescens, is involved in different infections in the human body, most commonly urinary tract infections and wound infections.

                          Carpets not being cleaned seem to lead to again, asthma, dust mites, mould, Athlete’s foot and Mycotoxins.
                          A nasty little mycotoxin producer; for example, Stachybotrys chartarum contains a higher number of mycotoxins than other moulds grown in the indoor environment and has been associated with allergies and respiratory inflammation.

                          Anyway, I just thought I’d add it to the post – just in case someone else might find it helpful.

                          As said in my previous post – thanks to all.
                          How then do you explain the fact that whilst homes these days are cleaner than ever before in history, the incidence of diseases such as asthma and URTIs is sky-high?

                          Until the advent of central heating most people co-existed with cold, damp and mould in their homes to some extent and lived to tell the tale. I agree that immuno-compromised individuals shouldn't be exposed unnecessarily to pathogens but by living without Microban, this gentleman has probably developed an immunity to many of them.

                          I agree that if he wants to clean but cannot, organising some help for him would be a nice thing to do.
                          'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I think you are taking the right approach.

                            It's about your relationship with your relative as well as the landlord-tenant side.

                            Is there mileage in an annual "Spring Clean", in addition to a cleaner?

                            ML
                            Refer Mad Regulators to Arkell vs Pressdram.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              In response to strangelittlebeing: I didn't state that I was solely judging him on his lack of cleaning prowess - just that it is an area of great concern. More so a great concern because one actually has higher considerations for relatives (esp older, potentially immuno-compromised ones) in this situation. As to dragging Karma into things - I had already thought that if I were to address this issue I would try to imagine myself as the 70 year in question and how I would like the offspring to treat me in a future event. I was looking for approaches and evidence me to assist me in going forward. IMO those who read too quick and then promptly judge - provide great criticism, but less actual assistance or useful advice. In financially tough times going straight to a maid option may not be feasible, hence the post.....I note that you didn't suggest you would be happy to get your hands dirty as an option (if you were in my situation), but I did!

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