Renting is horrible. I am fed up with bad news, and it’s going to get a lot, lot worse in the next year, with benefit caps biting and that dreaded incoming spare room tax. I wanted to be positive, and therefore thank a recent correspondent for this story:
‘After 18 years of being treated like "rental scum", I've finally found a good one. The flat I'm renting belonged to my LL's mum, who passed away nearly a decade ago. So she's not in it for the money. I found it on Gumtree (I know!), and thought it sounded too good to be true (at least £200 pcm less than other flats in the area, idyllic canalside spot with a gorgeous park on the other side of the water), but after 2 months of seeing overpriced hovels through agents, I decided to risk the cauldron of crazy that is Gumtree.’
Lovely turn of phrase for describing G******. She goes on to list why her landlady is ‘awesome’:
’She had the entire flat repainted before I moved in. She also left a bottle of wine and a welcome card on the dining table.
- When I mentioned I had my own bed, she immediately offered to put hers into storage. (I rented this place furnished. When I started renting 18 years ago, unfurnished places seemed to be more common, but now it's the opposite. Up until now I've either had to give away or sell some of my lovely furniture at knockdown prices, or live with two of everything in an already cramped space.)
- The new kitchen cupboard doors Sarah had ordered were going to be a week late, and the shower needed replacing, so on the day I moved in, she gave me a cheque for one week's rent. I tried to tell her that it really wasn't a big deal, most landlords wouldn't have bothered replacing them at all, and the shower seemed to work fine when I'd tested during the flat viewing, but she wouldn't hear of it.
- She happily allows pets. She offers to come round and feed my 2 cats if I go on holiday.
- When I locked myself out of the flat on a Tuesday morning in my nightgown, she sent a friend round in a taxi with a spare key (she was on holiday in Europe at the time). She wouldn't let me reimburse her for the taxi. "It's all part of the service."
- She was over the moon when I had the cream carpets professionally cleaned. "But that's my responsibility. It's my carpet." she said.
- When the previous tenants suffered a break-in, she had an alarm system installed, at her own expense, the following week.
- I've been here nearly 2 years, and she hasn't raised the rent. She could easily get more for this flat, particularly as this area has become more popular in the past 2 years.
I could go on, but there are some good landlords out there. Of course, it did take me 18 years to find one.’
My own landlady is also humane and understanding. She solved my water pressure nightmare by installing a shower (she is a reluctant landlady – blighted by negative equity and must sit tight for at least another five years, I reckon, so she’s broke.) She used up her bank of relative favours, and they were sometimes late or didn’t show, but I have a shower now. As a thank you for waiting, she sent a package of lovely smelly stuff.
The only problem (for her) is this: the letting agents are eating up a massive percentage of her income, despite which she has arranged all the repairs, as she can’t afford to use their contractors. The agents seem to maintain that despite answering my water pressure queries only after I had signed the lease with an ‘but it’s always been like that,’ they are insisting wrongly they not liable. In the meantime, I carry on with minor repairs, and don’t bother her unless its necessary.
But the water pressure was dealt with amicably, proof that we all benefit when landlords and tenants do their best to cooperate. Let’s not fight. Letting agents on the other hand…