The Joys Of Renting

, , , , , | Working | December 28, 2020

I moved out on my own when I was twenty-one, scoring a fantastic little new build flat in the city centre. In nine years, I only moved to a different block so I could have a bigger place. Eventually, though, the area got worse: there was vandalism, my car was broken into twice — in the underground “secure” car park that had easily broken gates — a pub on my road was closed after a guy was killed there, drugs, gangs, you name it.

I decided enough was enough; I wanted out of the city and to somewhere quieter. I was delighted to find a ground floor flat that looked great on the visit, close to my parents. The rent was the same as I was currently paying and the lease was for twelve months. Perfect.

Yeah. You know where this is going.

When I move in I actually have to wonder if it is the same place I saw three weeks ago. With the previous tenants’ stuff gone, it is easy to see the chronic damp. Oh, and the kitchen window has dropped so there is a wide, open gap to the outside — not great in the winter… or for security. I have problems with the en suite toilet and shower, as well, during which time the landlord and I have a chat when he is fixing the issues.

Me: “I’m really looking forward to living here. In a year or two, I think I’ll have it redecorated.”

Imagine my surprise when, barely four months later, he tells me I have to leave!

Landlord: “You’ll have to find somewhere else. I can’t afford the flat—”

This is despite me paying rent on it.

Landlord: “—and if you don’t leave, I’ll have to go bankrupt and the bank will take the flat and evict you.”

I should mention here two things. First, in the UK, you cannot breach a rental agreement for that reason. In fact, it is notoriously difficult to evict a renter from a property. Point two, I know this because I work in the real estate industry. I know how this stuff works, I know my rights, and I know I can make his life h***.

But still, it was stressful to have this man message me at least twice a week demanding I find another place, telling me I didn’t need to find somewhere perfect, just to leave his place, that he’d pay me to leave, that he wouldn’t give me a good reference if I was not gone by a certain date, etc.

But I ignored him. I consulted with colleagues who agreed that he had no legal standing, and I talked with the estate agents who had some very choice names for him, but I didn’t stop looking for the perfect place. Moving is expensive and stressful and I hate doing it, so if I was moving now it was to a place to stay a long time… like this was supposed to be.

In the end he came clean. Kind of. He hadn’t realised it was a twelve-month lease, despite the conversations we’d had. He did try and blame the estate agents — they are liars, they tricked him, blah. I figured he screwed the pooch and had someone else lined up to move in.

Thankfully, this has a good ending. I found a house, rather than a flat, still in my ideal area and price, with everything I could want: a garden, a driveway, three bedrooms, and an amazing landlord that I can laugh and joke with.

I don’t hate my ex-landlord any more, and I write this now from my garden, sipping a coffee and reflecting on how lucky I was that my ex-landlord broke the law and kicked me out, how I dodged a bullet, and how fun it was to see him a little while ago when I was visiting the friends I had made at that building… watching him bring his groceries into his — my — flat.

Yeah, he kicked me out so he and his girlfriend could move in. He saw me, I saw him, and I just grinned, with the other residents smiling with me.

I think I won.

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