Friday, 27 March 2015

Haart Attack

Awakened yesterday to the sound of hammering. I gulped down half a pint of dusty ribena I had thoughtfully left beside my bed a few days ago and glanced out the window. Nothing to be seen. I thought back to the previous night. I had consumed a couple of glasses of whiskey to soothe the sore throat that was the remnant of the cold I had last week, but nothing in sufficient quantity to cause this hammering. The cause must be exogenous, I deduced, but not visible from the bedroom window.

I eased myself out of bed and into my jeans and strode barefoot into the living room. From this vantage point I could see a man nailing a sign to the side of our porch. (This isn't a porch in the sense that most people understand it - we live in a first floor flat that is so narrow that the front door on the ground level has to stick out a bit otherwise there wouldn't be room for the stairs only a ladder - I am calling this sticky-out-bit the porch for purposes of brevity).

Here is what the sign said (I have carefully cut the name of the estate agents in half so as not to identify the bloodsucking parasites who do nothing and charge a fortune for the privilege):

And that, in the modern age, is how your average tenant in private rented accommodation finds out that their home is once again subject to the vagaries of the housing market. We will be expected to open our doors whenever a prospective buyer expresses an interest. We can be forced to sign a new contract (we can't legally be forced, but they can serve notice if we refuse and kick us out). We can be charged for the preparation of that contract. The unnamed Estate Agent currently charges tenants a £100 fee to print out a standardised contract and post it to them - no stamped addressed envelope is included for the contract's return.

Our landlady has actually been pretty good in the 18 months we've been here. She has been quick to fix things and although initially reluctant to transition from a shorthold tenancy to a rolling contract she soon changed her mind when she realised that the Agency were going to charge her £100 as well! In fairness, she did text me to let us know the property was going to be put on the market. So the nailing up of the sign wasn't the first I knew of it this time: although that has happened to me before. 

I don't especially blame my landlady. She bought the property for £105,000 five years ago and the Agency are telling her she can get £140,000 for it now. Charlie and I (and the flat's pre-inhabitors) paid the mortgage repayments in that time and she gets to pocket the difference. I blame the system - generally the system of ownership and property (but Charlie gets cross if I go on about that too much) and specifically the bastards like the ones who nailed that sign to side of our home.

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