Monday, 24 September 2012

Rant: House Headaches - Part 1

Some of you will be aware that since I got back to Leicester on saturday 15th September, I have been almost constantly dealing with a whole host of problems with my new rented student house for the year. The problems actually began on the thursday when Dad and I popped into the house on our way to Sheffield to turn the fridge on ready for food when we returned on saturday. Upon finding that the fridge would not turn on, we walked the fairly short walk down to Reliance Properties' office to report the faulty fridge and some damp that we saw in the kitchen (I will get to this later..). One of the employees of the lettings agency accompanied us back to the house to take a look at the issues. He saw that the fridge would indeed not turn on, and went to check the electricity meter and found out that the previous tennants had left it over £20 in debt so the electricty would not come on. There was a similar story with the gas meter, which sported an 'Emergency Credit Used' message on it's little LCD display. After finally finding out that BT were the suppliers of gas and electricity, we looked all over the house for the BT gas card and electricity key to no avail. We did however find ones from Southern Electric and E.ON. After many frustrating phone calls, I finally got a new BT electricity and gas account set up which wiped the debt on the electricity meter (but not the gas debt). I am still owed about £12 which is the debt I paid off on the gas meter. Leaving for Sheffield annoyed, we did not know that this was only to be the tip of the iceberg..

After coming back to the house on saturday and unloading the shopping into the working fridge. We started to clear out and clean the filthy kitchen. We filled four industrial size bin bags full of old food, broken crockery and kitchen gadgets which were clearly well past their best. The cupboards were left in a disgusting state, and I must have cleaned each one four times over the next few days before I dared to put any food in them. This is when we realised that the house had no hot water at all. Angry at the prospect of not being able to have a shower, I rang up Reliance Properties to tell them of this problem. While I was doing this, Dad was checking the cooker and found that only one of the four hob rings worked. In an understandable fit of pique, he stormed down to Reliance Properties and demanded that somebody came and sorted out all the problems. It seemed that our cries fell on largely deaf ears so we went to bed unhappy and frustrated.

Dad left on sunday morning, and I had a day pondering what the best course of action was to take with everything. Luckily the Landlord's son came over, with a gas safety man, to look at the damp and the boiler. When the gas safety man worked out what the problem was, he left with the promise to return with the new part the following day and fix it. To his credit, he came around on monday afternoon and fixed the boiler, replacing the old rusted part with a new one and pulling a lot of dirty boiler from the inside of the boiler. The hot water was fixed, which temporarily raised my spirits as I could once again shower. Reliance Properties, and more importantly the Landlord, seemed to be dragging their feet about the cooker. I heard nothing until wednesday morning when I was told that the filthy cooker would be cleaned on friday and it would be fixed on saturday. A woman came to clean the cooker on friday, and showed me how she could basically pull it out of the wall which was something I had not noticed. I kept it in mind to tell the repairman when he came on saturday, except no-one ever showed up. I sat in my house all day waiting, and after three 'head against the wall' phone calls to Reliance Properties, I realised that nothing was in motion at all. Very angry, I vowed to go down to their office on monday morning and demand a solution.

My housemate Iain came back on  sunday so we spent a lot of time out of the house, and he decided to come to Reliance Properties on monday too as he had to collect his key. While putting his stuff in his room, he noticed that some of his wall paper was swollen and some of the plastering appeared to be crumbling away. We noted this and went down to Reliance Properties this morning to report yet more problems and find out where we were on the cooker situation. In the midst of all this, I had forgotten that a damp inspector was coming to look at the damp. He came before we went down to the Reliance Properties office, and his first words after looking at the kitchen and in the cupboards underneath the sink was: 'This house should not have been let in this state!'. He summised that there must be (or atleast there used to be) a leak somewhere in the bathroom above and that to properly fix the damp in the kitchen the whole thing would have to be stripped out, cleaned and a new kitchen fitted. Reliance Properties came to look at the problem in Iain's room and found it to be much worse than we first thought. After tearing down some of the wallpaper, we found that pretty much all of the plaster on his wall had cracked and was now all over his floor. The damp had caused this, which told us that basically the whole back wall of the house was totally riddled with it and had been covered up with wallpaper or only partially cleaned off. Iain's wall will have to be totally replastered, meaning he will be greatly inconvenienced while this takes place. Because of the sheer amount of damp in the house, Reliance Properties are going to send around a housing inspector to come around and make sure the house is actually safe to live in and find the main source of the damp. This is basically where we are at the moment, and I shall update you all with another blog when I know more.

I have only really talked about the major problems in great detail, but we have had many other issues such as falling bathroom tiles, faulty aerial sockets and wardrobes that do not open. It is clear to me that this house was not inspected after the previous tennants moved out, and this maked Reliance Properties look totally awful. Some of you may be asking 'Well surely you looked around the house before you signed the contract?', and the answer to that is yes we did look around in January. We were basically forced out of our last house by Sulets (a story for another day) so we were really in a rush to find somewhere. Couple that with Reliance Properties' scare-mongering tactics of showing about 12 people the house at the same time, we really had to jump at the chance to get a decent looking 2 bedroom house that we could actually afford. This will hopefully explain to some of you why I have been upset and stressed this week. The back end of this house is so riddled with damp that it could potentially be uninhabitbale! 

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