The Steadings, 69 Leven Road, Lundin Links - A story about trusting Helen Sanders and working on someone else's property as a tenant, DON'T do either.

UPDATE - March 2014:

No one moved into The Steadings following the last tenant so the owner, Mrs Helen Sanders, is going to look for planning permission probably for 3 plots. This will likely involve knocking down the bedroom wing of the main house and extending the garage out to the road over the walled garden. Then converting the barn and having a 3rd plot between them. Form the way our minor repairs were managed it's clear this will be a major challenge to Mrs Sanders. Watch this space.

P.S. Can we have our expensive bathrooms back please? You'll be knocking them down anyway...

UPDATE - July 2013:

The people that moved in after we left have now left themselves after 6 months due to finding out exactly how much the heating bills for the oil actually were, and being cold throughout the winter. Rent this house only if you like a very cool living space or have very deep pockets. Viewing in the summer may make this house look lovely but in the winter you will regret your decision.

Original article:

In September 2010 Lorraine and I moved into The Steadings, 69 Leven Road, Lundin Links, KY8 6AL. We stayed for 2 years and in this time we were told by Mrs Sanders that we were demanding tenants even though we have spent over £12000 of our money and over 500 hours of our time on her property (yes we were idiots) and all we asked in return was she updated the heating system and did some normal maintenance jobs.

Apparently Mrs Sanders was "emotionally attached" to the property but this didn't include making it a habitable comfortable home for new tenants.

Her letting agent Bradburne & Co in St Andrews were great, special mentions to Shirley and Joan, except a Mr Ian Morton who's a partner in the business. I always wondered why everyone at Bradburnes always seemed unhappy, then I met their boss.

Mr Morton came into our property in June to do an "inspection". As soon as he walked in the door he told me he was a Chartered Surveyor which immediately rang alarm bells as this is a sign of insecurity and arrogance. Mr Morton you are an Estate Agent, if you don't like that do something else. It would be impossible to describe how pompous and patronising Mr Morton was so I won't, be we then got a letter raising our rent by £100 per month and threats about running a business from the house, incredible. Our response is here. Mr Mortons response to our response is here.

According to our tenancy agreement from Bradburne and Co. the rent could not be increased without agreement in writing from both parties but Mr Morton ignored this and put up the rent anyway. We also never received an EPC before moving in which is also against the regulations. Really poor practices from a supposedly reputable Estate Agent.

At that point we decided to cut our losses and leave. Mr Morton told us the property was worth far more than we were paying, of course it was, we'd renovated it! In reality it transpired he was wrong. It was rented to new tenants for £950 per month, exactly what we were paying. So Mr Morton is not even a good estate agent. He also didn't understand the difference between home working and running a business premises, not a man I would ever want to run my rental property. Others I have talked about this to that have had dealings with Mr Morton have concurred with my views.

If you are thinking of renting The Steadings at 69 Leven Road you'll want to know it's impossible to heat and in 2011 our oil heating bill alone was £3264, and it total, oil, calor gas for the 3 heaters we had, electricity and coal, we got up to £4726. This didn't include the massive amount of wood we burnt which we got ourselves. See the spreadsheet here.

So Mr Morton and Mrs Sanders are a perfect match but be careful if you have to deal with either. 

We are very happy in our new home and still live in the village. I've spoken with the new tenants and they are very cold, I can't see them staying. We have heard all sorts of interesting information about Mrs Sanders since moving into the village and had we know these before renting from her we surely would not have done so.

Oh yes, there were mice, lot of mice, and Mrs Sanders and Mr Morton thought it was our job to lay poison and remove the bodies. Really!

There's lots more and recalling this I can't believe we stayed so long but all's well that ends well.


JUNE 2010 – Lorraine and I had an initial viewing of the property on 21st June 2010.  The tenant, Ann-Marie Davy, was still in situ.  We then viewed again on the 24th as we were only up for the week from Lee on the Solent where we were living. No one from Bradburne’s was present at either viewing.

JUNE 2010 – We asked Bradburne’s if we could talk to the Landlord as the property in its current state wasn’t fit for purpose however we would be willing to discuss how we could address this.  We arranged to see Mr and Mrs Sanders on our journey home on the 26th June 2010.

JUNE 2010 – We met Mr & Mrs Sanders at their home in Trysell near Wolverhampton.  During this meeting we verbally agreed a term of 5 years for our tenancy on the basis that we would spend our own money refurbishing the property. Lorraine and I have talked about this and we don’t think we specifically stated that this was based on no rent increases during the term but as we were proposing to spend £10K - £15K I think we assumed this went without saying.  Foolish, but I think now not really important.   We agreed that we would replace both bathrooms (the largest investment) on the basis that the landlord paid for the rooms to be cleared stripped back to the plaster and made good ready for the new bathrooms installation. 

AUGUST 2010 – We were again in Fife making final preparations for our move.  We met Mr and Mrs Sanders at The Steadings on the 9th for a final review of the property.  No one from Bradburnes was present.  During this time we looked to see what furniture was required and what needed to go.  We had a drink with Mr & Mrs Sanders and toasted the next 5 years.
Mrs Sanders final comment to us was “We could do what we liked as it was our home”  She also apologies for the state of the house and said she’d arrange to get it deep cleaned.

SEPTEMBER 2010 – Moved in on the 1st.  End of September we completed the ensuite and Mrs Sanders workmen came in and removed the family bathroom that we’d been reluctantly using while the ensuite was being done.

SEPTEMBER 2010 to DECEMBER 2011 – Lots of work done, see separate list.  The house and gardens were looking great.  We couldn’t paint the ceiling in the living room or dining room due to the difficulty and height.  The only carpet not replaced was the rather disgusting living room carpet as it was 90 sq metres and we’d already spent too much. There was also soot blowing down the chimney as the vent on the top had seized and although we’d tried to repair in many times it had given up the ghost.  We requested it was replaced as it was making the entire house small of soot.

DECEMBER 2011 – Mr and Mrs Sanders visited the property on the 15th at our request.  We wanted to show them what we’d done and ask them if they would paint the last 2 ceilings and replace the living room carpet. Mrs Sanders was almost derisory about our efforts.  Mr Sanders was a little more complimentary but the visit left us very upset and angry and this was the beginning of the relationship breakdown.  We estimate that between us we’ve spent 550 hours on the property and we didn’t even get a thank you or well done. Nothing was agreed but they said they would discuss it in the car on the way home.

JANUARY 2012 – We got the attached letter which was fine.  It just summarised the discussion from December.  On the 29th we noticed the hall carpet was wet.  A mouse had chewed through 2 plastic pipes, one in the living room and one in the hall.  The water had been spraying onto the floorboards for some time and the damage was extensive.  It transpires that Mrs Sanders insurance didn’t cover rodent damage.  Quite incredible as her Father had used Rentokil on contract to deal with this.  We had no idea there was a problem.

FEBRUARY 2012 – Mr Reike came in and sorted the pipes. Chippies came in and fixed the floor.  We were left with the job of drying out the carpets and living with the damage up until a new living room carpet was fitted on the 16th July. So the fireplace hearth broke up as the wet floor had allowed it to sag.  It was already in a poor state.

JUNE 2012 – On the 11th Mr Ian Morton, a partner at Bradburnes, came to do the quarterly inspection.  This followed a meeting in his offices with Mr and Mrs Sanders 2 weeks earlier.  I showed him around the property and he was patronising, pompous, and generally disagreeable.  Again he was derisory about our work. He left a very bad taste in our mouths.  During this meeting he actually told us that when he’d met Mr and Mrs Sanders 2 weeks earlier Mrs Sanders wanted to give us 2 months notice as she felt we were demanding and awkward tenants.  He also said it was Mr Sanders that mediated to stop this course of action. 


JUNE 2010 - We also discussed the heating as Ann-Marie has said the house was very cold.  We made this clear to Mr & Mrs Sanders that the heating must be 100% working as we didn’t want to live in a cold house.

AUGUST 2010 – We were again in Fife making final preparations for our move.  We met Mr and Mrs Sanders at The Steadings on the 9th for a final review of the property.  No one from Bradburnes was present.  During this time we looked to see what furniture was required and what needed to go. We also dropped of some possessions in the garage after asking Mrs Sanders if this was OK, including  a rideon mower we purchased especially for the property as there’s about half an acre of lawns.

AUGUST 2010 – The workmen were in the house during our meeting as Ann-Marie had already moved out.

SEPTEMBER 2010 – We were expecting to move in on the 1st September with fully functioning heating and a cleared bathroom to replace.  This was not the case.  The workmen hadn’t finished the bathroom and the heating was very poor.  Mr John Donaldson was the builder and apparently Mrs Sanders was using him because her Father did.  This was a poor choice. Mr Donaldsons own plumber wouldn’t touch the heating system so he got a chap called David Bull to come in and sort it.  My Bull was supposed to replace all radiators that weren’t working and the pipework under the floor but actually only replaced the pipework to the radiators which had little effect on the heating.  Different radiators were hot, lukewarm and cold.

SEPTEMBER 2010 – here’s a lot of detail which I don’t think is relevant regarding the work Mr Donaldson was doing but basically Lorraine and I spent September working on the property, cleaning (it was very dirty), painting and decorating, repairing almost everything we touched, new lights, curtains, but also overseeing the fitting of the new bathroom.  At some point (I’m sorry I can’t remember the date) the Ensuite was finished and Mr Donaldson came back in and removed the family bathroom which we’d been using during the Ensuite’s fitting. We then set about installing a new suite, tiles, lighting, etc. in the family bathroom. At the same time the wall in the 2nd bedroom adjacent to the bathroom was damp so needed

OCTOBER 2010 – The weather started to get colder and it became very clear that the heating wasn’t working properly.  We could only have on shower from the tank.  Until I flew out to Toronto on business training for my new venture on the 20th October we were working full time on the property so it was finished for my departure.

NOVEMBER 2010 – The new carpets were laid throughout on the 24th. On November 27th the temperatures plummeted and we were living in a truly freezing property which was almost unbearable.

DECEMBER 2010 - The property was still cold and we brought this up with Mrs Sanders who didn’t seem too concerned but eventually Bradburnes sent their plumber in, Mr Duncan Reike.  He diagnosed a new boiler, new hot water tank and new pipework (that should have already been replaced). Mr Reike ordered all the kit and the heating was eventually replaced on the 16th December.  This required all our carpets to be lifted.