Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Farewell Nice Heights

I’ve left Nice Heights, which was a wrench because I loved there. I’d been in the strange position of showing prospective tenants around. For the sake of my landlord and neighbours, I wanted a good tenant to move in, but I was so enthusiastic that I think some of them must have worried that I would never actually find the will to leave.

Here’s why I’m going to miss my favourite ever flat:

Synchronised Radio 4, although we needed a warden to make sure we were all listening simultaneously on DAB, as the delay caused a civilised, urbane echo.

Nice heights was so quiet. Not deathly, like a morgue, but parties didn’t destroy the peace, and occupants of shared flats didn’t feel obliged to have a birthday party, a moving in party and then a moving out party. It’s also well insulated.

Instead of thinking: how can we cut things back, how can we economise, how can we eliminate anything helpful, humane or enjoyable, without being discovered ie after the block is sold, the developers paid attention.

The way it’s managed (or rather the fact that it is managed.) There are so many blocks where the management team think of running fees as a sort of treat, to be spent on shiny things, and certainly not on nasty, ugly real things like cleaning, and security.

Residents are respected, but then tenants are in the minority. Occupants are also respectful of each other. They keep themselves private, but are friendly and chat, which is ideal.

There was a sense of peace. I don’t know why, but if Dovecot Towers was built on a hell-mouth, or something, but if so, then Nice Heights was on a place where all the happy people lived contentedly for many years.

I once saw a squirrel playing on the grass nearby, and the urban wild mink have been marching boldly into city shops. I could hear birdsong in the morning. Nature’s creatures boycotted Dovecot Towers.

Nice Heights proved that things can be done properly – that newbuild housing might look identical from the outside (and despite the quality, the exterior was far from grand.)

Some residents cultivated little indoor gardens by the front door. Nothing fancy – just a few random plants in pots, but nobody steals them. You can have a doormat, without it being nicked.

If you are carrying heavy shopping, people hold the door, and keep the lift waiting. That shouldn’t be remarkable, but sadly, for me, it was.

I’ll miss chatting in the stairwells with my friendly, sociable neighbours. People weren’t scared of each other, as they were in Dovecot Towers. The enemies of Nice Heights were outsiders, but then we had the security of a concierge and that rarity - a good strong door.

I really wish I could have stayed. A friend pointed out that that this is the only time I’ve had to move out of somewhere I’ve been really happy, which is why I am so wistful. Happiness and high-standards in rented housing shouldn’t be an aberration. Still, onward, as my renting adventure continues…


The Editor said...

Hi Penny, sorry to hear that you are leaving what clearly is a nice place. Whats the reason for leaving.

You can contact me on

Neil80 said...

It feels like it was only a few weeks ago you'd just moved in and were searching for a nom-de-plume for the great place you were describing which would become Nice Heights. How quickly a six months tenancy goes. I look forward to hearing about your ongoing housing adventures. Can't beleive your being spammed by letting agents!

RenterGirl said...

Yep Neil - it's gone fast for sure. And the comment above you isn't from an estate agent - he runs a landlord site and I'd been trying to get in touch with him. I wish it had been a comment from a legal, decent and truthful letting agent with a fair flat offer.

Dara said...

You actually bury a really, really interesting comment in here. Probably the most interesting thing I've seen on here in fact.

'Residents are respected, but then tenants are in the minority.'

If you see this, I'd be grateful if you could elaborate on that.

RenterGirl said...

Dara. I am slightly miffed that you think the small comment was the most interesting thing on here; what, ever? Still, blind with tears, here's what I mean. In Dovecot Towers, most of the residents were tenants of buy-to-let landlords. We/they had no leverage with management, who actually refused to deal directly with us, deferring instead to the landlord. When things went wrong, we moved. Owner occupiers being in the majority, as was the case in Nice Heights, means that occupants are respected a lot more, as they can get together to compel the management company to actually manage the place, for example with legal actionn and withholding fees. This isn't always true. I am aware of several cases of blocks where owner occupiers are in the majority, management companies still thumb their noses and pocket the fees.

Neil80 said...

Oops. Sorry Chris. No offence meant.

CMS said...

Hi there. Just had a proper look through your blog and it's fascinating! I've been in my flat 10 years now (it's a housing trust, used to be council)- I'd forgotten how hellish looking for rented property is. I love your observations too! Keep up the good work and good luck!

RenterGirl said...

Thanks CMS! It is horrible, and getting worse for home-hunting renters. You are lucky to have a flat like that, and long may you stay.