My new property seemed okay when I first viewed the place, and the landlord seemed fine. But it just shows that first impressions aren’t up to everything. Plus when I say that the landlord seemed fine, I should have guessed that he might be dodgy but the problem was that what I now know to be either illegal or bad practice, I did not know at the time. After all we cannot know about every rule and regulation about everything in the world can we? We have to trust that people are honest.
When I say I should have guessed, it came with the fact that he wrote a lower amount for rent on the contract than he actually took. He put this difference down to the fact that he paid the council tax, water and gas bills, but later I found out that it was probably a tax dodge. He also put the property’s address as his own address, even though he did not live there.
Deposits these days are a much safer affair, but this landlord got out of having to register one by claiming that it was more of a month’s rent in advance and that the last month would be free. Technically I think this is legal, but it should possibly have been a sign that he was not completely above board.
His advert had stated that the house was “HMO standard”, since there were nine people living there, and when I looked around he stated there was a cleaner for the showers and bathrooms (all shared) and staircases. It turned out that there was no cleaner at all, in fact one of the residents occasionally cleaned, and I wonder if the property was actually a registered HMO. I had no fire escape other than the main entrance three floors down and the floor of my room sloped in various directions, sagging in the middle.
My window frames were half rotten and one night one of the panes of glass even slipped a centimetre to leave a gap at the top. After telling my landlord, rather than repairing the window he simply slotted a small sliver of wood into the gap and said it was repaired. I used to have nightmares of the frame finally rotting through, the glass breaking up upon the tiled roof and splinters raining down upon the children, who lived in the basement, while they played in their garden.
The rent was collected weekly, in cash, by the landlord. When I first moved in I expected it to be during the day, but on average he turned up at about 9pm on a Friday night. Sometimes he wouldn’t turn up at all without informing me and I would stay up late for no reason. He found it impossible to understand why this was so rude, annoying and arrogant of him. It being a weekly rent, I later found out that by law he should provide a rent book, but he didn’t.
After living there several months he left a later saying that next week the rent would go up. I thought nothing of this since the rent was paid weekly, but again I later found out that he would have been required to give a months notice of a rental increase.
But all this was nothing compared to the situation regarding the heating and hot water.