Saturday, 23 June 2007

Sharing my wisdom

The one positive development of recent weeks has been my lovely new neighbours. We met in difficult circumstances; they were moving in and slamming the front door. If you read rentergirl, you could be forgiven that I have hypersensitive ears like Superman, or am the grouchiest, most intolerant neighbour ever. I’m not really that bad - it’s just that in our lightly built block, whenever the door slams, my windows rattle, and light fittings fall off the wall etc. When I popped my head around the door, instead of the burly, psycho-scally I feared, was…. a reasonable man. I asked if they’d mind the door. Later, he visited to apologise, and even introduced himself. I think in Dovecot Towers, people like us are the deviants.

So far, they are polite, friendly, don’t blast out their music, nor are they menacing in any way. Their flat is identical to mine. It’s telling that they too have bargained down the rent with newbie buy-to-let landlord, who relented on the price after paying a mortgage on an empty flat for a few months.

But they aren’t allowed to put up curtains because that would leave ‘…holes in the ceiling.’ In their furnished flat, the landlady insists on blinds (thankfully of the sunlight blocking Venetian variety.) But they must repaint the flat before they leave in exactly the same one coat chalky cheap emulsion used by the developers. She’s even chasing the developers so as to get an exact match. Maintaining the decoration is the landlord’s duty, not the tenant. When did that tide turn?

Anyway, my neighbour helped me re adjust the door closer. So what, you think. You don’t understand; for six months now I’ve had doors slamming in my face. Hot tea has been regularly, painfully and messily spilled, and I have been spooked in the night by what in deep sleep sounds like a poltergeist, but is actually just the door closer on a hair trigger response to breezes. These closers are to prevent fires. As they are always propped open, keeping our tiny homes aired, the door slammers are a waste of time.

Oh, and aren’t I just the wise old lag? I am the Norman Stanley Fletcher of that block. I advised them: get your mail redirected to a safe address. Point out to the landlord the lack of a splashback by the kitchen sink (the paint peels off within weeks) and the paint marks on the floor.

It’s saying something that there is a knack to moving into, and then living in a newbuild. There shouldn’t be little tricks to pass on. My home is a building, not a car that must be run in for maximum efficiency.

The government is launching an enquiry into why so many people are dissatisfied with newly built property. Shall we save time and money? Because these buildings are poorly built, and badly designed. The design is not brand new, but the latest in a long production line of similar developments, and everything ought to work. The developers should by rights have ironed out the generic faults and niggles by now. One week later, and all is still well with my neighbours. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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