Posts Tagged ‘landlord’

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.

The bus journey of memories

I get on, beep my Oyster card and sit down. I have a magazine with me, intending to read it, but I know deep down I won’t actually read it. Because this bus journey is one which runs through the memories I have made since coming to London. I’m always drawn to look out of the window.

It starts by the pharmacy where I would come and get Bio Oil every week or so after my operation last year. To try and make my huge hideous scar fade a little. Next I’m at the garage I used to walk to when I was allowed off bedrest, to try and get my energy back. There’s the bike shop where I wheeled my bike in despair one day when I had a puncture while cycling to work. It was a brand new bike and I felt very protective of it. I hung around nervously while they took it in the back to fix, trying to catch a glimpse of it. And there’s the shoe shop where I worked for six weeks before leaving because the manager was awful. And opposite is the Waitrose I don’t like because it’s laid out differently to the one I usually go to. There’s the pub I once went on a date to. One of those dates where you realise that someone is much more likeable from a distance. Moving on to the getting-to-know-you stage had been a mistake. The Oliver Bonas shop is next. I’ve never been in there. I had a friend who worked at one of their other shops. On the left is the running shop which used to be a running and cycling shop. I lost faith in them when they got rid of the cycling part of the shop. I was quite a regular visitor, used to get kitted out in my lycra there. Then here’s the garden centre on my right. I used to cycle down here for compost and seeds etc, when I started keeping an allotment in my final year at uni. Next is the Memories of Mortlake shop. I always look at it from my bike or from a bus window and think it looks lovely but have never been in. Next, we are at the traffic lights and the bus stop on the other side of the road is where I used to wait when I worked at a coffee shop where the shifts started at 5.30am. Once, while waiting for the bus there, an old man started mumbling and shuffling over to me and when I listened to his mumbles, he was asking me what colour my knickers were! I promptly set off walking fast for the next bus stop. Next we come onto a road which is flooded with early London memories. We’re passing my old university on my right and the council estate where I lived for two and a half years having loads of fun but with the worst landlord in the history of the world.

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The university buildings cover the whole right side of the road until it ends at the road I used to cycle down when going into the park. I went through a phase of cycling around Richmond Park twice every morning first thing, before I did anything else. Next is the little cobbled road on my left where my uni friends and I would get a takeaway from Dong Phuong’s at least once a week, minimum. Next, up the road to the motorway and on my right is the other council estate where my friend, Sophie, and I viewed a flat before ending up at the one we passed earlier. We pass by Putney Heath and another council estate where Sophie and I viewed a flat with a girl we didn’t know, who never got back to us about whether she wanted to move in. It was a bit of a walk from uni anyway, so we opted for the one just over the road! Turn left and follow the motorway through Wimbledon Common, which I used to cycle across when the coffee company I worked for, needed me to cover shifts at the Wimbledon branch. I once got very very lost on the common for over an hour. I was quite frantic by the time I found a dog walker and asked him for directions. We’re now in Wimbledon Village and the bar where my friend, Robyn, brought me years ago, when I first came to her house and we had gone out dancing. We danced to Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. I had learned the dance moves from the video and we did them, over and over. Down the hill and approaching Wimbledon station, where we dropped Joe off to get the train, before going to the bar I just passed. We turn before the station and it starts to get into unchartered territory. We pass through Southfields, where I thought for years that my friend Jay lived. She would always leave early in the evening to get home on time and I wondered why she was being so over-cautious. After all, she just needed to jump on the one bus…. I think it was Sophie who pointed out that she did not live down the road in Southfields. She lived significantly further away in Southall…. Oops! Well it’s all south, that’s what I say. We go through lots of areas which are unfamiliar until we hit Tooting, and the cafe on my left where I once met Joe so we could go and explore Tooting, to report back to a friend who was soon to move to a campus there from abroad. And the restaurant shortly after where I met an old uni friend for dinner a few months after my operation, still feeling a bit fragile. This is where I get off, to do a bit of exploring and to make some more memories.