Tuesday, 6 August 2013


When owners sell a property, they must truthfully answer enquiries about the people who live close by or next door, questions like do you have any disputes with them, has anyone threatened to kill anyone else, etc. So all those years of spite over the fence about leylandii, or parties, car parking spaces, nosiness, noisiness, or just irrational mutual hatred which worsens daily until loud shouting matches are a daily ritual, has consequences. These incidents must be shared with incoming occupants, if they have the sense to ask.

Renters, however, never have good neighbours on their list of priorities. Perhaps because renters can move, it doesn’t seem so important.

Tenants also face a double dose of problems – for example, my own close neighbour doesn’t seem to like Landgirl very much, for reasons best known to herself. There is some sort of simmering antipathy or row about which I know nothing. We met on the doorstep recently, and it was unsettling to listen in as my neighbour badmouthed my excellent rentier who can’t do enough to make life easy, and is professional, even – blimey – kind.

But this is not my fight. I’m not say anything, for fear of offending Mrs. Neighbour and starting a dispute with no hope of ‘plausible deniability.’ I avoid the sort of ruckus, which if it escalates – NB it won’t – enters whole new world of weird. I wonder how many tenants are aware of this, and when neighbours initiate and escalate mindless vendettas, join in enthusiastically, until there’s an actual blood feud. I not joking about the last part, because some disputes end in violence.

Tenants are often alienated from their local community, because they are seen, and indeed see themselves, as transient occupants whose stay is temporary, or else as that coupled with nuisance. People who are allowed longer tenancies contribute more to the community – they take part in neighbourhood watch, chat in a friendly manner etc – maybe even swap cards at xmas.

Many tenants with an Accursed Short Term Travesty never speak to the people who live next door, because they move know they’ll be on the move soon, maybe in six months time. The worst examples enjoy loud parties. There is the issue of students, who move into shared houses where neighbours might be elderly, and for whom even a one-off weekend party is intrusive.

Round my way, the people who live below have moved out. It’s pity. They were lovely, with kids. The new bloke is nice enough, but there is one major drawback to this turnaround. He cooks fish – all the time. Everyday.

But here’s some advice. When you move in to a new place, befriend the people who live close by – chat with them. They could be your friends. Mine are lovely. The other night, I heard another neighbour speaking into his phone ‘Code red! CODE RED!’ Neighbourhood watch can be useful to everyone when there are thieves trying to smash open front doors or break into cars. So be nice. They might be useful.


Dazzla said...

About 10 years ago, I moved out of my flat in a fairly stabby inner South London borough into my girlfriend's 3-bed flat in Hertfordshire, which she shared with two emotionally ballistic women in their early 30s. We spent a lot of time out. One Sunday morning we came back from a looooong weekend in Amsterdam and for some reason started rooting through one of the kitchen drawers. In it, we found a large stack of letters, each of which bore the letterhead of one of two firms of solicitors.

The stairwell on that floor was shared between three flats, and there was a large window facing out to the main road, the sort with tiny quarter-lights at the top, which opened and closed. Each was no bigger than one of those large manila envelopes that used to carry internal circular office mail before the advent of email rendered such things obsolete. Each opened perhaps two or three inches at their widest arc.

The letters concerned a dispute between the other two flat occupants about whether the windows on the shared landing should remain open or closed.

Yes. Go on, re-read that. I'll wait.

We calculated that they must have each spent well into three figures with their respective solicitors on the production and dispatch of these letters, and apparently no solution had ever been reached.

Isn't that amazing?

RenterGirl said...

That's truly special. My 'favourite' was the brothel with a 13 yr old prostitute, and story hereabouts on next door Casually cutting the lawn using... a SWORD.