Mea culpa. It’s all down to me, and those of us unfortunate enough to rent newbuild buy to let flats. It’s true: everything is our fault (well not mine specifically, but you take my point.)
The brothel on the floor below was run by but to let tenants. How they managed such a scheme from a tiny, one bedroom newbuild flat with plaster membranes instead of brick walls is beyond me. It must have led to a hurried service. Our benighted caretaker pointed out that some of the ‘girls’ were entertaining clients on the stairwell and also - when demand was high - in the recess on the landing. How resourceful.
And the graffiti? Guess who. The scoundrel who uses a stolen credit card to order takeaway food from someone else’s address? Yeah, you’ve guessed it. Who dumps rubbish, vandalises our management company’s feeble attempt at landscaping, blasts out horrible techno, while screeching abuse at visitors from their balcony? The git breaking the main door every morning by pulling it open (and no, that shouldn’t be possible)? Stealing post? Why, that’ll be the buy to let tenants.
Neophyte, ‘hobby’ landlords must accept some of the blame. Frequently laissez faire with the pre tenancy screening, they are apparently unruffled by the destructive effect of noisy, aggressive occupants on neighbours, and indeed - their own flat.
Of course, most wicked deeds are perpetrated by an energetically active minority of tenants who laugh in the face of outrage and complaints, caring not one iota what their landlord thinks. Then again, dedicated villains can forge a reference afterwards, so conclusive vetting is virtually impossible. And what is to be done when the accused is renting from his loving parents, blindly incapable of accepting that their darling child is creating havoc.
Around eighty per cent of flats in Dovecot Towers were snapped up unseen by Chinese property speculators. Being as they’re mostly based in Hong Kong, it’s little wonder they take no interest in the distress of neighbours they will never meet. They’ve invested long term in the bare bricks and mortar, and might be admirably less twitchy about smaller concerns like painting, but are unlikely to rush over on a jet plane if their errant lessees play music a little too loud.
The proximity of new developments to the city centre, and the accompanying clubs and bars, causes major problems. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that cheap flats next to the red light area might be commandeered for use as brothels and make-do ‘pharmacies’, although housing associations, councils and landlords feigned surprise when this happened. Such flats became highly desirable locations for criminal gangs to sell drugs or live close to the office, so the dodgy bloke next door really was the gun toting, crack dealing, pimp your mother warned you about.
There is no central control. Perhaps buy to let landlords should be obliged to notify management agents when they rent out the property. Perhaps tenants should form residents associations, encouraging a sense of community to fight against the temporary ‘just passing through - whatevah’ mentality that blights my home. Perhaps kitchen taps should dispense chilled champagne on demand.