The big clear out!

July 31, 2013

After much soul-searching, my brother and I are to become landlords for our mother’s property.  Her 3 bed semi has lain empty since she went into a care home in September last year, and already the fees are making a big dent in her savings.

Unfortunately, we can’t discuss our plans with Mum as she won’t understand anymore, but she trusted us enough to have already set up Enduring Power of Attorney for us years before it was needed.  Her foresight, not ours!

We sought advice from a local letting agent last week and my brother contacted them, first thing Monday morning, to instruct them to act on our behalf and find a suitable tenant

Initially the agent had said “Why not sell and get two smaller properties to let?”, but we assured him we’re not looking for a business venture, we just need some income from Mum’s own assets. 

So the arrangement was that I would take a set of keys to the agent the next day, and they would need to verify and take a copy of the Power of Attorney document for their records. 

Walking through Mum’s house to collect the spare front door key and then a back door key, the enormity of what we were doing struck me.  Someone else was going to be using these keys and I didn’t know who it would be – it was quite a gamble. 

We had impressed upon the agent that Mum had lovely neighbours who had been extremely helpful to her, and we would hope to have tenants who would fit in with the quiet cul-de-sac environment.  He assured us they would take up references and do their best for us. 

So keys were deposited with the agent and they would initially use them to go in and take a few photos for advertising purposes. Again, I felt the feeling of intrusion, but it had to be done. 

The next day, I set about sorting and clearing Mum’s personal things.  We had been told that most prospective tenants would want a place to be unfurnished.  So it was a  case of first empty all cupboards and cabinets, and sort glass, china and ornaments.  Some of it was quite good, or of special sentimental value, so I felt the grandchildren should be able to choose anything they would like from Nanna’s ‘collection’. 

Then, as the daughter, it made sense that I would be the one to sort Mum’s clothes.  Two local charity shops have already benefited from my donations. 

I didn’t allow myself to get too emotional whilst clearing things – there was too much to do!  I did, however, find a bag of mementoes from her favourite holiday, to the former Yugoslavia.  I’ll take them next time I visit and she’ll enjoy reminiscing again. 

Within 24 hours of handing over the keys to the agent, a ‘To Let’ board has been put up in the garden – no need to explain to the neighbours now! 

I already understood the need to obtain safety certificates for both gas and electricity, but the agent seemed to be stressing, with some urgency, that we should complete an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) as soon as possible.  This has been a legal requirement since October 2008 and, as it’s quite the modern trend, we’ve been told any prospective tenant would expect to see this information on viewing.   

We check the next day and the first advert has appeared on line.  The ball has started rolling.