The landlord and the light bulb



True story.


A landlord rents out his flat to two new tenants. It’s the first time he’s ever had to manage a property and the people who live there.


At 7pm on the first day of the tenancy, he gets a grumpy text message. The lights aren’t working in the bathroom. It’s one of those fancy LED fittings where you need a stepladder and magnifying glass to change the bulb.



The landlord looks at his watch. Then an app that predicts a 45 minutes journey (and the half eaten cannelloni on the table).


Put it on pause


Tough call? Not really. Supper is packed into the fridge for a later rendez-vous. The live football match is put on pause. Puffer jacket donned, he drives over to the flat via a couple of hardware stores (bulbs and stepladder safely acquired).


The tenants are a bit surprised to hear the doorbell at 8pm, but the landlord plays the, “I was just passing by” card.


Lights are fixed, a couple of pieces of furniture moved around (and back again). The tenants are delighted.


Six months later, so is the landlord. He’s had four polite phone calls for minor fixes from the tenants. Rent has been paid on time. And now the tenants want to extend their contract.


And hereby started the lesson. At work, as in life. As a landlord, as in an agency. Pre-empt the problem and over deliver at the very first opportunity.


Trust is everything


Sure, the tenants were frustrated by a blacked out bathroom. But they were more concerned about how the landlord would respond.


A burnt-out bulb is one thing, but what about central heating? A broadband upgrade? By fixing a simple problem, fast, the landlord bought more than half-a-year’s goodwill and trust. Job done.


Oh, and for those of you worried about waste, our dutiful landlord was back in time to microwave his meal, put his feet up and watch West Ham get blown away 5-0 by the Arsenal. You can change as many light bulbs as you like, but you can’t change football.

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© 2020 Peter Springett.