The worst landlord ever

When I was in my second year at uni, my friend and I decided to move off campus into our own place. We looked at a few places but settled on a flat on a council estate, mainly because it was over the road from university.

When we looked at it, however, it was a little rough around the edges, to say the least. There were chips in the paintwork in most of the bedrooms. There was a huge hole with piping exposed in the bathroom wall. There were odds and ends of crockery in the cupboards. Nothing had been cleaned. There were no curtains or even a curtain pole in my room.

The estate agent confidently assured us that everything would be sorted by the time we moved in. There would be professional cleaners and builders etc who would get the place ready before we arrived.

We found two flatmates to fill the other rooms and, a week later, my friend picked up the keys and headed there with all her belongings, ready for the exciting new adventure. I was working until early afternoon so it would be a few hours before I got there.

I got a phonecall shortly after she had walked through the door, which I thought would be full of excitement and anticipation. Instead it went something like this:

“It looks exactly the same as when we viewed it the other week. There’s still a big hole in the wall and it’s a mess.”

She called the landlord and said there was still a hole in the bathroom wall and that it wasn’t safe. His response?

“What’s the problem? Are you going to climb into the hole?!” followed by a little chuckle at his own wittiness.

When I got there after work, we donned house clothes and yellow gloves and got to cleaning. We packed up all the bits in the kitchen which had been left and put our own stuff in the cupboards.

When the landlord eventually came round to sort out the hole in the bathroom wall, he brought a man with him who, I got the distinct impression, it seemed he’d picked up randomly on the street while driving to the flat.

At one point, the man was cleaning the oven which, we had insisted, needed a proper industrial clean out as it was so dirty. The man, who spoke no English, just kind of muddled through and my friend had decided to keep an eye on him. This was how she saved our cutlery from destruction as he reached for a knife to start scraping the dirt off the inside of the oven.

“No!” she said, speaking slowly and clearly, as though talking to a child. “We use these to eat with. You need a sponge or a scourer.”

He also tried using the oven cleaner he’d found, on the inside of the bath, which he’d been asked to clean. Again, Sophie stepped in, speaking slowly and clearly and handing him some bathroom detergent spray.

That was just a hint of things to come. He owned the flat upstairs too and the girls living there had some hilariously bad set up where he would pitch up every month and collect the rent in cash, all £1400 of it. We gave him cheques for a while before insisting he give us his bank details so we could pay him properly, by bank transfer. That honestly took about six months from first asking him before he gave us them.

When there was a water leak upstairs because someone left the tap on and water was flooding out through our light switches and down the walls, he said there was no need to get anyone out to look at the damage or fix anything because it would be fine.

He’d show up at odd moments and start talking nonsense. Like the time he turned up at my birthday party and started rambling on about this idea he had to store memories on a computer chip so as not to forget them.

He was from Sri Lanka and would just disappear off there without any forewarning, leaving no-one in charge of his business dealings. So, for no discernible reason, we wouldn’t be able to contact him for a month. He didn’t see what the problem was.

He once threatened to turn up, pack my bags and put them outside. When I pointed out that he needed to go through a court and have a properly authorised eviction notice to do anything at all, he flipped out, said he didn’t care about my ‘rights’, and said we owed him money. It’s all hilarious now, but honestly, it was quite ridiculous.

The more I think about it, the sillier it seems. After we moved out, he insisted two people’s rent hadn’t been paid and so kept the whole deposit (four people’s rent). When I called to ask for the other two people’s rent back, he said he’d ‘told the police on me’. I said the police don’t get involved with rental disputes as it’s not violent crime. He stopped picking the phone up when I called.

And that was my experience with the worst landlord I have ever had. It was like living in a comedy.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Oh goodness, you poor thing! lol I’ve had a couple of pretty rough landlords myself but the cake is taken by the guy who would never fix anything and asked us to give our rent money to the woman who lived upstairs so he didn’t have to come looking for us. Once, he sent his brother-in-law to replace our shower (which had originally been the wooden camp-style monstrosity) and the man not only took THREE days to install a basic pre-fab shower, but would regularly turn our water off and then LEAVE for HOURS without telling us where the main was to turn it back on!
    You know what though? I think having to deal with people like this throughout life builds character. lol


    • Omygoodness, that sounds horrendous. But yes, I would like to think it has been character-building. It also makes you aware of what is NOT okay next time you move into a new place.


  2. Wow, that s nuts–glad you moved out! (Too bad about the deposit, though. :()


  3. I think anyone who has had more than a few renting engagements can identify with your problem. I have had a few who were “less than wonderful”. The best ones were, usually, the ones who were part of a franchise. They had deeper pockets and had dealt with a lot before and knew how to handle things as well as the legalities involved. I got very familiar with legalities by the time I got my own home.
    The first rent I did was with my wife and, when we got to the landlord’s place, I began reading the 7 or so pages of the lease, including fine print. The woman asked me what I was doing. I told her and then said I have a problem with “this” clause. She said that was standard and that they didn’t do it anyway. I said if they don’t do it, why put it in there? My wife was worried as they almost didn’t give up the lease.


  4. That’s a bad comedy.


    • Yup. If you wrote a book about it, people would say you were making it up. Especially the bit about the guy grabbing one of our knives that we eat with, to scrape the caked on grease off the bottom of the oven!


  5. I love your writing style! Just think, all these wacky experiences many moons ago are *fab* blog fodder!


  6. Posted by Alex Jones on December 29, 2012 at 22:07

    Did you get your full deposit back in the end?


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