Sunday, 13 February 2011

House and home

I dislike renting a house.

I dislike not being able to add solar panels, better insulation, windows that don't leak, floor materials that wear better, adequate kitchen cupboards that have doors that close.

I dislike knowing that if the landlord decides he doesn't want to rent any more, I will have to move.

I dislike inspections every six months in which a letting agent can decide to make my life difficult or easy based on the "condition" of the house. Inspections of any kind make me nervous anyway, due to unpleasant childhood episodes, but house inspections are frightening enough that I've wriggled out of being home for the last two, leaving them to Intrepid Anthropologist.

On Wednesday we had one such inspection. Previous ones had been all right, we aren't perfect housekeepers but the place isn't filthy, but I was still worried. And this man who didn't even give his name came into the house where we live, our home, and declared it unsatisfactory in all sorts of ways. He actually said "I don't know how you can live this way" to my face.

I repeat, we aren't perfect housekeepers -- but the place is by no means filthy, and we certainly aren't causing damage to the fabric of the property.

And so now we've had a nasty letter from the letting agents, saying there will be a re-inspection for which all of us must be present (why?), demanding various bits of the house are "professionally" cleaned (professional cleaners are, as my housemate points out, just people with materials, experience, and not much better career prospects), saying we must put the garden back in its original state (I've put in some raised beds for growing veg -- the plan is to take them with me when we leave -- on previous inspections they haven't been a problem) and so on. The letter is unpleasant in tone and it isn't even grammatically coherent.

I have a sneaking suspicion that what is actually happening is that the landlord wants the house back, he wants it back before the end of our contract, and the letting agents are trying to get us out by 5th April and have us clean the place from top to bottom first so they don't have to.

We do have friends who work in housing law; as I type this, Intrepid Anthropologist is on her way to visit them to discuss what is and is not reasonable and what part of the letting agent's actions constitute interference with our quiet enjoyment of the property.

But even if that goes well, even if we clean the place from top to bottom before the next inspection (5th March, at least we've got a bit of time, though it will interfere hugely with work), it seems likely to me that the letting agent would rather have us gone than keep us -- if we argue we'll be "problematic" tenants -- and we'll end up moving house again by this summer at the latest. And that, in turn, scares me. I cannot tell you how much I loathe moving house, and doing it because someone else has decided I must is very much worse than it being my own decision.

Your prayers, if you're a praying sort, would be appreciated.

I know that it is unlikely I will end up homeless. I know that even if I were to end up homeless I would, ultimately, be okay. Love is stronger than death, I keep telling myself, so this ought to be a piece of piss. It's a struggle to keep that in mind with this sort of upheaval looming. Emotionally I am veering between trying not to fret because I'm fairly powerless anyway, and a sort of paralysis around the things I can do that might make a difference (mostly, lots of cleaning) because they might not be enough anyway. Ultimately, I do not get to decide whether I stay here: someone who sees me as a source of income, as an object rather than as a human person, gets to decide.


A Wild Celtic Rose said...

I loathe and despise renting.

Luckily, I'm not having to do it anymore.

Hopefully, I'll never have to do it again.

Prayers and good energy being sent your way. you must be so very stressed out right now.

UKViewer said...

Song, You have just put me off the idea of renting. We were contemplating doing so when we move as where we plan to go, the house prices are probably higher then we could afford initially, and our property would need to be sold, but not with enough equity to be mortgage free.

When I was in the Army, we had these types of inspections regularly when moving in and out of houses on posting, every two years (and sometimes more often). We spent endless hours cleaning, repainting (young children will damage paintwork, even accidentally) all to avoid expensive bills.

The horror was then arriving at the next house to find it filthy with damages and missing furniture because that location had lower standards then where we had come from.

Having 'lived' in our current house for over 20 years, we know it needs a makeover (this year) before we move or sell, but at least we are doing it for our own benefit, not some snotty landlord!

So decision made for when we move, renting IS NOT an option. Thank you.

it's margaret said...

Oh Uuuugggggh! Song, I am so sorry you must endure this. You will be in my prayers.

Nancy Wallace said...

To feel 'at home' is so important. My prayers for you at this unsettling time.

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you all so much.

It looks like the letting agent's behaviour is legally dubious, to say the least; we are going to write some Polite Letters.