Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Under No Pressure

I moved into a new flat. Gimlet-eyed, I inspected before accepting. Years of experience (much of it detailed hereabouts, if you recall) mean that I know what to look for. Despite being in a hurry (previous landlords having returned from abroad and now want their home back) after looking around, I signed a new agreement. I felt uneasy. Something was wrong.

I asked if I could attach the shower-spray to the wall. The Letting Agent (smiley, smiley! chatty chatty!) said yes while admitting that the water pressure is a ‘a bit weak.’ That’s like saying The Niagara Falls are known to roar slightly.

Having dutifully cleaned the previous place in a haze of bleach fumes until it gleamed and germs retreated in fear, I moved in and prepared for some light, preparatory dusting. And now…only now after several days of anger and despair, am I able to describe the horror, the horror.

The previous occupant had left freshly-cut clumps of thick black hair in all the sinks: bath, bathroom, kitchen etc. That’s normal right? Thought not - another new item for the checklist: inspect plugholes for alopecia-related detritus. Oh and the bathroom door and window do not shut, let alone lock. Also, when I first looked around, the weather outside was so hot my teeth began to itch. Now, in June, the bathroom is so cold, I fear it might be haunted.

The place was filthy: nothing had been cleaned, and my sight problems led to a vision of filth hitting me quite unexpectedly. The oven was rank, and the light fittings are frankly, furry. The agreement states I must have the place ‘professionally cleaned’ on vacating. Ha. Never going to happen, which I’ve pointed out to the chatty-happy-martinet she-agent (who boasted about having a power shower at her home).

And dimmer switches are so romantic aren’t they? Just not when they are ancient, and attached to low energy light bulbs. When this happens, they are hazardous.

But back to the water pressure. After nearly ending up in Stoke Mandeville following the contortions required to reach the bathroom mixer-tap, and observing the sad, pitifully slow trickle of water from the bathroom sink, I scalded myself under the kitchen tap. The letting agent’s response took several days. There’s a long history of investigations; in fact an entire creation myth with fluid-deities, mythical pipe workmen and phantom plumbing engineers explaining why the water pressure is so weak. After observing me signing on the dotted line, that damned she-agent wrote: ‘The owners tolerated it when they lived there, and so you just have to accept it too.’

I shall yodel from beyond the grave: ‘Yeah but the owners eventually get to OWN the bloody house!’ Yep: amateur landlords again, trapped (or forced) amateur landlords, with property in negative equity which must be rented out, resentful sulky landlords who can’t/won’t pay for repairs, treating maintenance requests as an affront to their human rights. And another thing: this didn’t emerge in the survey?

I’ve asked for a meeting with that heinous she-agent, who breezily chats over and deftly ignores me, batting off all complaints. I shall keep you posted.


Ben Reeve Lewis said...

I went through the same thing when my landlord, a charity worker insisting to the agent that they were going to be owrking in New Zealand for at least 2 years, suddenly came back after just 4 months and invoked the break clause.

We had just started out so were renting furnished and were forced to grab the first thing going in a high demand market, which turned out to be unfurnished, and the costs of relocating so suddenly meant we lived for a year on cushions and an airbed.

To their credit the agents were so incensed that he had lied to them too that they refused to market the property when he tried to sell it and the recession hit hard, the bottom dropped out of the market and he sold for £80,000 less than he originally had it on the market. I checked the land registry documents (I know how to do it for my job) and saw with great pleasure that he made less than £10,000 profit after owning for 6 years.

As for agent's response, I think a bullet to the back of the head is the only sane solution. Failing that I would find a way to let prospective tenants know that they rent out sub standard properties and then refuse to do anything about them.

RenterGirl said...

Oh, Ben trust me on this one thing. I have big plans for publicising their actions, responses etc...And yes, they will soon go out of business, as they are one of the bad agents. Actually - what am I saying. ALL agents are bad.

Ben Reeve said...

Haha the dangers of pissing off a professional housing journalist. Please take a photo of their faces

space cadet said...

‘The owners tolerated it when they lived there, and so you just have to accept it too.’

First response to that is always:

"Tell me, would YOU accept it? You sarcastic piece of scum"

gas safety certificate said...

I personally wouldn't move into the property if its not professionally cleaned. You say on your blog that the terms state that the property is professionally cleaned before its rented out, if its not then that clearly shows that the agent and the landlord are both cowboys.

Dazzla said...


I've often thought of refusing to move in unless contractual terms are met, but where are you going to live until it's all sorted out? The agent knows you're in this dilemma, so they don't clean despite having charged the previous tenant for a professional cleaning job.

It's fraud. What can you do?

RenterGirl said...

To be honest, I'm not sure what happened here: I am assuming the previous tenant left the place in a mess, they deducted from the deposit and spent the money on...hats? We were then asked to have the place professionally cleaned when we leave, whcih mean leaving it cleaner than we found it. There is along list of other faults. And the letting agent trying to distract us by talking about he rpower shower, and then not asking the owners about the pressure (we have an email chain as proof) is classic.

Dazzla said...

Thought you might be interested in this article:


It's actually an Observer article, but the Guardian seems to be continuing its policies of lebensraum against the Observer.

It was on the front page of the print edition of the Observer yesterday. The comments below range from scathing to vitriolic.