Monday, 11 February 2008

Property in the UK 8: Problems Rise from the Dead

For much of 2007 this blog had me ranting about the constant problems I faced renting a house and trying to sell a flat and buy a house. By December it seemed that everything was resolved. I had sold my flat, though for less than it was worth, I and my housemates had got away from the rented house where the landlord's representative had incessantly harrassed us and I had bought and moved into a new house jointly with said house mates. It seemed to be all sorted and we all looked forward to a quiet year ahead. We were careful not to leave any details at the old house because we knew how nasty the representative was, what a fantasist he was and how he believed he had the right to bully us to keep paying him hundreds of pounds. He had taken our £1000 (€1350; U$1950) deposit off us even though we had left the house in an immaculate condition and we hoped that would satisfy him. The letting agent encouraged us to raise a complaint of harassment against him for constantly phoning us, telling us we had only a 2-week notice period at some date selected by him and sitting outside our home photographing it. However, we wanted to draw a line under all that and hoped to move on to our new place without hassle.

Since late December we seemed to have achieved that until today. The letting agent called my housemate's mobile phone saying the representative was demanding our details so he could bill us for a further £1400 (€1890; US$2370). Apparently he is demanding £400 to have the grass on the back lawn cut and the garden weeded and another £1000 in rent he claims we are due for January. The garden was left in a good state, but of course with the warm weather the UK is experiencing plants have not stopped growing and given we left the house seven weeks ago it is not surprising it is all grown up. It does not cost £400 to have that work done. We had three trees chopped down and removed for £80 when we first moved to the new house, much more work than a small bit of mowing (the lawn is 2m x 2m) and some weeding. He is also claiming for a glass lampshade which is broken. The thing fell down one day all most showering us with glass. It is a small sphere that could fit in your hand which was made in the 1980s and no longer made. Surely out of the £1000 he could pay to have the whole light fitting replaced. We do not have the £1400 he is asking and we feel we are not obliged to pay him, but you can guarantee he will soon have debt collectors after us.

The greed of the man is astounding and the sense that he can still keep charging months after the tenants have left indicates how avaricious he is. He has taken £11,000 from us in one year and yet this is not enough for him, he effectively wants us to pay to do up the house so he can sell it. The obligations of tenants do not extend that far whatever he and so many other landlords believe. By definition tenants are not the richest people in the community so why should we be pressed for more and more money for very spurious reasons? I suppose it is because it is actually more expensive to be poor in the UK than it is to be rich. We have to cough up many charges that richer people never do. If I could threaten this man with my own lawyer then I am sure he would not think twice about even trying to press these costs on us. It seems that the next stop is court and my housemate is bullish to face the representative in a legal setting. However, before then I am sure we will have to face debt collectors and all the pressure they can bring plus the damage to our credit ratings and attempts to seize items from our house. In the UK you have no defence against a financially more powerful person who just keeps on squeezing. What makes it worse is that this man lives in a fantasy world and cannot disassociate his lust for revenge on us from business dealings. He cannot be negotiated with the way a more sane person could. How I curse the day we ever saw that house to rent and how I wish the other people who wanted it had beaten us to it. I do not know how the representative would have dealt with a lone mother with five children, but she should be grateful she never had to face him.

I thought this strand of my blogging was dead and buried, but it seems to have risen up and come back to plague us even when we thought we had escaped. In the UK do not dare be even comfortably off let alone poor, you have no rights; no power and the greedy will consequently exploit you.

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