Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Dovecot Towers Is Fawlty

Eavesdroppers and googlers only ever hear ill of themselves. The other day I was casually investigating the web presence of Dovecot Towers, when I had a big surprise; apparently, I live in a hotel. Who’d have thought it?

There’s always been something strangely transient about this place. Only three per cent of the flats were owner occupied, and many (Stop press – make that all) owners have rented out their beloved, hard won, but now unsellable investment, and made good their escape.

Amazingly, an increasing proportion of flats are being rented for weekend city breaks. Less surprisingly, the ‘guests’ do not have happy holidays. One commentator described their flat as grimy, grim and unpleasant (I told you so…) while another complained that the landlord didn’t leave enough toiletries in the bathroom (neither does mine!) One welcome pack was lacking in real coffee (this is uncanny) and the towels were dirty. I resent that. Mine are squeaky clean. It’s bit of an obsession.

So that’s why I am frequently accosted by strangers with wheelie suitcases asked for directions. This would also account for the sullen, bedraggled families waiting outside with a load of baggage. Units are offered as ‘luxurious urban apartment easily sleeping six.’ Luxurious? Are you sure? And why are these places never referred to as flats? Six is a bit of a push though; you’d need to fold up the people, not just the bed, and it’s not cheap. Mind you, yesterday I ordered some tea and biscuits on room service. Delivery was prompt - albeit extremely surly- and the tip was lousy.

You know those dismal Spanish holiday flats, where you check in at 3am, knackered and disorientated, thinking ‘…this isn’t like the brochure,’ and fight over the double room? Space is cleared by arranging the plastic chairs on the balcony, before heading to the bar, consoled by the fact that it might be tiny and horrible, but at least there’s the beach to spend the day, and you’ll only be there for a fortnight. Welcome to my world. Except: there’s no beach, no park, no sun, and we must stay… forever.

A disgruntled permanent resident left a nasty note because their expensive and highly prized parking space was sequestered by a tourist in town to see Dancing On Ice. However, a visiting stag party was extremely satisfied; they had a grand time, partying untroubled by the feds. Indeed they did. I could hear them.

What an enterprising and creative way of making money when in negative equity during a property slump. Facilities are lacking though: that brothel seems to have vanished, so there’s a business opportunity, and I understand there’s a vacancy for a drug supplier/booze fetcher.

Judging by the highly unscientific method of looking from my window, the recently completed flats are still mostly empty. Ideally, property will be snapped up for social housing as a means of quelling this buy to let newbuild madness…or flats could play host to riotous stag parties. I suspect which option is more profitable, and subsequently more likely.


dominican said...

Your apartment block is not an hotel - it does not have planning permission to be used as such. And in my view serviced apartments are more hotels than residential flats. So if you have evidence that they are not being used for their intended purpose, drop your friendly planning department a line and ask them what they intend to do about it.

We moved out of a previously rented flat because we got fed up with being woken up in the early hours by people who thought it acceptable behaviour to continue their party on the balcony opposite. We haven't had any problems where we are now; but we did get a note in our post box saying that such one night/weekend lets were against the terms of the lease. So, the owner of the flats in Dovecot Towers may well be in breach of the lease as well as the planning regulations.

RenterGirl said...

You are right, and thanks for that! The problem is that so many owners are truly desperate to fill their investment, that nothing is done.
Although...Stop Press: The Manchester Evening news reports today that the council are aware of the problem. Interestingly, I think this directly affects a few councillors. So maybe something will be done. I had wondered why so many women wandered around the place in fairy wings...

dominican said...

I spoke too soon....we may not have a balcony opposite, but we do have a long corridor with rooms off. And on Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning, there was an awful party opposite which spilt out onto the corridor and disturbed us and everyone alongside, above and below through the night. It became so unpleasnt and rowdy that the police were called at 7am; and arrived at 8.15am; to say that no-one was hurt and what was the problem. Not helpful.

It doesn't look as if the planning system can help: apparently it can't distinguish between 'normal' letting and one night/short term letting. So 'normal' renters will continue to be at the mercy of irresponsible landlords. And a further twist on this: some developers sell flats restricting short term letting; but keep back many themselves to take advantage of this lucrative market. How can they sleep at night? On relfection, probably very well.