Monday, 5 September 2011

Flat Sharing in 'Can Be OK' Shock.

Recently, I found myself sharing a home again. The flat was large and pleasant enough so I thought – oh, give it a go. I wasn’t looking forward to it entirely, especially as one of my (lovely) new flatmates described the residence forthrightly as: “We’re two blokes. It is what you would expect.” Cue feverish visions of 70’s contrived sitcom flat-share hell.

But they could use the rent money, and I was looking for a place, so why not? Ghostly memories of flat-shares past came flooding back, reminding me of why I avoid multi-occupancy wherever possible. Stories like the long, desperate queues for the bathroom, once while the horny couple (there’s one in every shared house) shared, a long, indulgent bubbly bath last thing every night.

Or the chilly, gothic, three-storey house where I went away for xmas, returning to find that in my absence, all six occupants had quarrelled terminally and disastrously, so badly they had stopped speaking to each other, even with me. And it was nothing to do with me!

I had flashbacks of sharing the nervous breakdowns of others (one co-tenant tried to take her own life with four junior Disprin) the heated recriminations which turned nasty over ‘carrot theft’ (so kill me - I used one of your carrots…)

The flatmate who one morning filled an entire kitchen with a visiting French street theatre troupe but ‘…had only slept with two of them.’ The flatmate who, for economy turned down all the heating until there were ‘icebergs dead ahead’ in the lounge, but heated her room until we melted again. The flatmate who bought a house but took the bed and the curtains from her room, leaving me to explain things to the landlord.

But my flatmates (let’s call them Alex and Bruno) are lovely guys and behaved like gentlemen throughout. The only bugbear was Bruno and the toilet. Until I arrived it looked like the bog in Trainspotting: a dark abyss, a dangerous swirling vortex of filth and gloom, which until I held my nose and applied bleach could have pulled humanity through its noxious gateway and into an unpleasant alternative universe. Forever…

But we were all polite: no bathroom hogging or food-stealing. Perhaps it was a question of respect. Nobody resented living there. Previous flatmates of mine have felt themselves out of place, and have acted imperiously, as if renting was beneath them. One even referred to us as peasants. I miss her so much.

Bruno leant me books, Alex recommended music. I am missing the music (mostly Bruno’s daily 11 am sax rehearsal) and Alex’s diligently prepared, economical and yet paradoxically luxurious packed lunches, and having technical assistance around at all hours. Most of all it was great to have someone ask: ‘ you need anything from the shop’ occasionally.

You’re going to miss me Bruno, I said, enjoying the leaving meal he’d cooked for me. No, he replied: we’ve bought a dishwasher.
He loves me really.


Dazzla said...

Not related to this post, but I just heard the dude who sits opposite me talking to his solicitor about evicting the woman who lives in his house because HB won't cover the whole rent any more.


"I feel really sorry for her and her daughter, but it's a dog-eat-dog world, isn't it?"

It is happening. Here. In front of us.

RenterGirl said...

It is. It is happening. I knew it would, and can't stand watching it - that's one of the reasons why I stopped writing. Please, if any readers have any experiences, take the time to EMAIL me. The best I can do is write about this, but wish there was more. Why aren't people more angry?

Ben Reeve-Lewis said...

I lived in a shared house of 10 for 5 years and loved every dirty minute of it.....for 4 and half, at which point I relaised if I didnt get out I would die there.

And yeah I hear those tales all day long, I'm a tenancy relations officer whose job it is to prosecute landlords for harassment and illegal eviction and I see the worst of the worst and they tend to express those views too.

Having said that, in the past year or so I would say that most of the problems I am getting is with letting agents, several of whom are beyond incomepetent and are outright crooks.

It was reported to me yesterday that 1 of them is using paperwork faked from a local charity to put in claiams for Crisis Loans for non existent tenants.

Last week I started investigating an agent who has so far taken 3 lots of £2,500 for different tenants who turn up but then cant move in for some reason or other and when they ask for their money back they get either told it is going through the BACS system or aere given a bounced check.

And yet still the government refuse to regulate them

RenterGirl said...

That's extreme, about the letting agents Ben. Can you email me some details - for the day job? Thanks. And yeah, flatsharing was great for a while. Are you hearing about bailiffs too?

Ben Reeve-Lewis said...

RG I have tales from the front line of landlord/tenant relationships that will make you drop your iPad in shock!!!! What is your email address? I'll share a few.

I came across 1 firm of bailiffs in the past fortnight, based in wales who went to a property chasing a £600 debt for some past traffic offence. The debtor was a man with a long and difficult to pronounce Sri Lankan name. The bailiff met the guy's tenant, a Sri Lankan woman and her 3 kids with limited English and somehow conned her into paying her landlord's debt. I had to excplain to her what she had just done.

I have written a letter of complaint to the firm and am awaiting a response.

I have come across this website where the guy who I seem to remember is an ex bailiff himself not only gives free info on what bailiffs can and cant do but also offers a service where you pay him £125 and he gets them off your back and if he cant at least get your debt down to £125 he gives you your money back. A bold claim. He must know the common scams they pull and how to get around them

RenterGirl said...

I wish I was suprised. The money is a probelm, but I predict that someone´s ie a tenant is going to be hurt. And soon.