Posts filed under ‘Diary of a Renter’

Renting blog: What home improvements mean for tenants

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

Most tenants get quite excited when their landlord decides to do some improvements to the property, as we were when we were notified that our windows were going to be replaced. Aside from the worry that our rent would go up, we were happy to say goodbye to rattling panes, a drafty toilet and an ad hoc latching system.

Week one, we hear that the contractors are going to arrive on Tuesday. They pitch up on Friday, remove all the frames and windows and replace them with double glazed ones and we spend the weekend with no curtains.

Week two, the contractors now have to plaster the gaping holes, which they do rather well until we notice that plaster not only has gone on the walls but on the carpet, patio and stairs. We spend another weekend living a in a fishbowl.

Week three, no sign of the contractors, nor of our downstairs toilet seat, which has mysteriously disappeared. I have given up on rearranging my room to be builder-friendly and hope the neighbours have enjoyed my strip shows. In between my housemate has to use the plunger to unblock a drain clogged with old paint and plaster.

We get our letting agent on the case who assures us he’ll get it sorted by the end of the week. And so now with two days to go, we’re waiting with bated breath for the reappearance of the vanishing contractors (and our toilet seat), hoping that all this ‘improvement’ will be worth it in the end. I’ll let you know when they turn up…

September 2, 2011 at 2:20 PM Leave a comment

Renting blog: Are you the one who always changes the loo roll?

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

In my experience of living with other people (family and exes included), there’s always one person who ends up taking the rubbish out, changing the loo roll, and in our rented house, making sure our abode stays clean.

While I’m in charge of the  house account, I don’t see my role (house “prefect” – as one of  my housemates calls me) as being the one to mop the kitchen floor or vacuum the lounge. So after an unsuccessful cleaning rota system, the “prefect” decided to get in a cleaner.

I’ve had a bit of bad luck with cleaners – they disappear to France, get ill, cancel on me (on sunny days, usually), so I thought I’d go through an agency who’d promised reliability.

After an initial meeting, our new cleaner Yordanka arrived on Saturday morning. I was excited that she’d actually pitched up, and leaving her with a bucketful of cleaning materials, I let her get on with the task.

Two hours later Yordanka finds me to say the vacuum cleaner isn’t working. We inspect it, pull out a Christmas ribbon tangled in the brush, a coffee receipt and a mangled hairband. Still no luck. We empty it, clean the filter and still it refuses to come on.

Giving up, I say I’ll get hold of the letting agent who hopefully will fix it or replace it. Poor Yordanka does her best with a broom and calls it a day.

As I take out the bin bags she’s piled outside the front door and head out to stock up on toilet paper, I muse that it seems there’s always going to be that one person to fix a vacuum cleaner too.

August 17, 2011 at 9:30 AM Leave a comment

Renting blog: Can tenants love thy neighbour, asks Jeannie

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

It’s one thing homeowners dread –living next door to tenants. Because they don’t own their property there’s this misconception that people who rent don’t care about maintenance, noise levels or being on friendly terms with their neighbours as they’re not committed to any permanence in the ‘hood.

With this in mind I’ve tried to be a good tenant-neighbour. I chat to the people living behind us about the weather when they see me get home from work (they even gave me a barbecue they didn’t want anymore), I try to keep the outside of our house clean and tidy – I’ve planted pansies in the window box after admiring the roses in the garden on the left of us and for the most part adhere to the 10.30pm noise curfew, shushing friends after a late-night dinner party.

Occasionally there have been a few lapses. We’ve had complaints for being too loud outdoors, letters through the door about putting the wrong refuse in the recycling bin and, of course, the issue of parking where we’re not supposed to.

So I was rather anxious when approaching the house one Friday night to hear music blaring, the front door open and a lot of noise on the patio. My housemate had decided to have party. Oh dear, I thought, we’ll be getting another note in our letterbox in the morning.

To my surprise, who should I find in the living room, but the people living next door! It seems my housemate had taken good neighbourly relations a step further than I had.

Now let’s just hope those nice people behind us don’t have reason to complain – I might just have to invite them round for a barbecue…

July 29, 2011 at 9:39 AM 1 comment

Renting blog: What to do with others people’s junk, asks Jeannie

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

My housemates and I decided to spring-clean this weekend. Many hands make light work, until you start opening cupboards and drawers and realise that you have accumulated a lot of other people’s junk.

Moving into an ongoing shared rental property means the house has never been empty. Forgotten boxes from previous renters remain hidden underneath stairs and in hallway cupboards. All the landlord cares about is that what’s on the inventory is still here.

So what do we do with old satellite dishes, broken furniture – and a biltong maker? What’s that, you ask. And so did we when we saw it: a giant box-like structure made of wood with a plug and hooks – is it a sideboard, drinks cupboard, Ikea bookcase gone wrong? It stayed in the lounge, too heavy to move until a previous tenant, who was a South African, popped by to collect some post and explained.

He said he’d constructed this wooden box the size of a sofa when he planned to start a business making the South African delicacy of dried meat, called biltong, to sell to other expats.  He promised to bring a van to collect it the following weekend, so we cleared the magazines and junk mail off it and couldn’t wait to wave it goodbye. That was a month ago and he hasn’t been seen since.

We decided to move it to the garage. Until we opened that up and realised we had bikes, office chairs and a suitcase of photos and travel mementoes all of which didn’t belong to any of us but had filled all the empty space in there.

So the biltong maker has remained part of the living room furniture, much like the Egyptian artwork over the mantelpiece and the neon pink faux-fur scatter cushion on the couch – part of the legacy of a rented home.

July 21, 2011 at 9:44 AM Leave a comment

Rental blog: Sometimes renting is a full time job, says Jeannie

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

This is the first time I’ve rented a home managed by agents. Most of my previous landlords were hands-on or had a handy man who’d come to the rescue  – bless Gordon and his useful box of tools who stepped in when an ex-flatmate and I, newly moved out of home, had maintenance problems. Poor man even changed our light bulbs.

For the most part, I think our letting agents and our house had quite a good relationship. There’d been no unexpected visits (cue turn down the music and hide the empty wine bottles) or need to spam them with messages just to get a washer replaced. We needed a new lawnmower, they obliged. We requested they take a look at securing and glazing our windows, they sent someone round to get a quote. They even sent us a Christmas card!

But it was after I received yet another phone call at work , that a hint of irritation began to creep into my attitude towards them. Who had to go, buy and assemble the lawnmower? Me. Who had to let the window company in and wake at my housemates early on Saturday morning? Me. I even had irate Andy phone me one morning requesting I be at the house to let him in to do a gas and fire safety check. When I explained I was at work, like most people on a weekday, he got in a strop and said I’d wasted his time.

Thing is, I had never made the arrangement nor given him my number, but somehow the letting agents, who are getting paid to manage the property, seemed to have selected me as site co-ordinator. Perhaps I should ask for a cut or a decrease in my share of the rent?

But then I have to stop and remind myself of the mysterious case of the missing toilet handle: at a house I once rented, landlord-appointed odd-job man Majek came to fix a toilet. After staring at it for five minutes, he unscrewed the handle, walked out the door and was never seen again.

So sometimes while it might be a bit of hassle to organise repairs for our rented house it at  least gives me a never ending stream of odd stories (thanks to Majek and co.) with which to entertain my friends!

July 15, 2011 at 3:51 PM Leave a comment

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