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choose your own adventure

What Does Your Landlord Want?

by Joel Golby
14 August 2019, 12:19pm

Photo: Emily Bowler

– A request to bleed the radiators and service the boiler (that you made before winter) has finally been fulfilled! But his guy can only do the work at somewhere between 7.45AM and 8.15AM on a Thursday morning, at the precise time you go to work, and if you can't be in to let him in then you’re going to have to wait another six weeks because both he and the builder are going on separate three-week all-inclusive holidays over the next few weeks and this is the only time they’ll both be in the country again until June. It is currently 7.35AM.

– The landlord has heard that you replaced the kettle (the old white plastic one broke: you bought a nice, stylish, chrome-and-art-deco handle one to replace it because you figure you can move house with it next time), so has brought his own kettle round to replace your replacement, and his kettle is a used plastic white job that he's clearly cleared out from another house, but he unplugs your kettle to replace it with his – "You have to use this kettle from now on, yeah? The electrics in this house are very… sensitive. The fuse on this one won't work with the wires" – and if you weren’t there to stop him he would’ve taken your kettle out to his car. You ask him about the tiles in the bathroom issue, the one you first raised in March. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah," he says. "Err…. Next week!" You will not see him again until autumn.

– Surprise inspection where he tells you not to dry sheets over the doors as it quote-unquote "warps the wood"!

– The landlord has arranged some house viewings because he "wants to see how much the flat is worth on the open market, for insurance reasons", so you have to keep the place tidy and be in for three weeknights a week and then, surprise, he’s sold the place, and while it’s under offer you’re both allowed to live there but rent has to be paid in cash and the 30-day notice period is now void. Don’t fuck me about on this, guys! I’ve been a good landlord to you!

– Changing the locks for no discernible reason!

– The landlord has spent 15 minutes walking around your flat wordlessly, occasionally saying "yeah" into his Bluetooth headset, seemingly testing the rigidity of the skirting boards by poking at them with his shoe, and just as he is almost out of the door he ducks into your room and points at an indistinguishable patch of the paint that is whiter than the rest of the white wall because the tenant before you painted over it, and it was only evident when you got a bit Kondo carried away and moved your bed, and now a whole fucking inquest has started into why a small patch of your wall is whiter than the rest of the wall ("What have you done? What have you been up to in here?") and long story short you agree to veto £140 worth of your deposit to get it fixed ("And I want that in writing. I’ve got some contracts in my car") just to get the cunt out of your house because you’ve had this hangover episode of Arrested Development paused so long the PlayStation’s turned itself off.

– The rent has gone up and you have to sign a new contract! Why has the rent gone up? "We're doing this on all our properties." Okay!

– You need to fill out some fucking additional reference form ("Change in the law") and pay them £120 to file it!

– The shop below your flat has mildly flooded due to cheap and shoddy pipework installed in your bathroom, and the landlord has asked that you "shower at the gym" for now. "Tell your housemate, yeah!" he says, backing out of the front door. "Shower at the gym now, yeah?" It is not immediately clear how long he expects you to shower at the gym, until, six weeks later, you get an email chain forwarded to you that makes it very clear the shop below has been keeping a tally of how many showers you take not at the gym and forwarding the intel to the landlord. "What did I say?" he says, "about showering at the gym?" Anyway, it’s irrelevant now: you both have to move and your deposit is being docked.

– The landlord needs to put a strange heavy holdall full of tools in one of your cupboards!

– Two sinister builders who aren’t dressed in overalls and do not put any dust sheets down come to clank and take your radiator off the wall. They carry it down the stairs in silence. The wall is not repainted for three more months. "After improvements to the house, we’ve had to raise the rent," your landlord emails

– Your landlord phones at 9AM on the first of the month to accuse you of not paying rent. "WHERE THE FUCK IS IT!" he says, cheerfully. "FIRST OF THE MONTH, EVERY MONTH. YOU’RE IN BREACH OF CONTRACT." But you paid it, you explain. It happens via direct debit. I’ll call the bank but— "Fine, fine. You’ve got 15 minutes." You email a screenshot of the transaction, the same one you make every month, and the landlord admits his mistake. "Ah, yeah, just… wasn’t showing up on my screen." Ten days later you get a summons. "Ignore it. Procedural." Twenty days later you get another summons. "I told the— I told them to cancel that one! Ignore it." Thirty days later you get a fine. "Yeah, you have to pay that." Forty days later you are being chased by a debt agency. It takes six premium rate phone calls to get it sorted and your credit score is affected forever.

– The landlord is changing the property agency they use and that means they have to run all your references again and take fees!

– The landlord knows you’re moving out but says "the state of this place" (gesturing towards a more-or-less immaculate flat) is un-rentable and he'll have to get professional cleaning services in which costs, inexplicably, the precise cost of your entire collective deposit!

– The landlord takes you to court because of a lightbulb!

– The landlord lets himself in with the keys while you’re dashing from the shower to your room, but realises he's come to the wrong flat. "Oh, I meant upstairs." Inexplicably, he sees round four corners and through a closed window and spots an errant cigarette butt left there from a party two months ago and takes a photo of it on his phone. "You’ll get an email about this. Says in your contract you can’t smoke. That’s a £60 fine, and if it happens again it’s eviction." He’s the most reasonable person you’ve dealt with in ten years of renting!

YOU HAVE LOST AT RENTING, BUT YOU’LL JUST HAVE TO MOVE IN TO ANOTHER PLACE WITH AN EVEN BIGGER DICKHEAD LANDLORD, SO DO YOU EVER REALLY WIN OR LOSE AT THIS, OR DO YOU JUST GET GROUND DOWN UNTIL YOU DIE, LOSING DEPOSIT AFTER DEPOSIT UNTIL ONE DAY YOU SIT DOWN AND TOT UP EXACTLY HOW MUCH MONEY YOU’VE LOST TO MEN WHO WEAR OAKLEYS ON THE BACK OF THEIR HEADS DEDUCTING MONEY FROM YOU FOR THE MINOR TRANSGRESSION OF BEING ALIVE INSIDE A PROPERTY, AND YOU HAVE TO GO OUTSIDE, HYPERVENTILATE, CRY, THEN HAVE A PINT. THEN MOVE.

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