Way back in September I wrote a blog (House Headaches - Part 1) about the state of the house I was living at the time and the battles with Reliance Properties over the numerous issues my housemate Iain and I were facing. Before starting, I would like to say that we have now moved and everything is now sorted but it seems silly not to finish the story. I finished the first part by saying that Reliance Properties were going to send around a housing inspector because of all the problems with damp and broken plaster. This never happened. For the next week I rang them almost daily trying to find out what was happening about this to no avail. A few days later I found out that the man who had been dealing with our case had 'left' Reliance Properties, and after that I never felt that any of the employees really took it upon themselves to help us. Due to the lack of news about a housing inspector, I rang up Environmental Health at Leicester City Council and tried to organise an inspection of my own. They took well over the given time of 5 working days to get back to me, but I did not mind so much because they are genuinely busy and do an important job. Eventually I decided to call them back and got put straight through to the lady who would be dealing with us and immediately we organised an appointment for the following week.
While all this was going on, Reliance Properties were doing just enough to make it appear that they were doing their job properly. The gas safety man came back and fixed the cooker, which was a relief as I was sick of microwave food or going out to the pub. A really awful odd-job man came over to fix the dodgy bathroom ceiling tiles and the broken back of the bath, but to be honest I feel that I could have done a better job. Within an hour one of the ceiling tiles was back on the floor where it had started and we found piss all over the floor where he had tried to use the toilet and failed. By this point I was just despairing. The shoddy repairmen and the lack of a housing inspector was a sign that nothing concrete was ever going to happen. However, Reliance Properties soon annouced that the much needed work to rectify the damp and the broken plaster would start the next day! The Landlord (who was the same person who said he was the Landlord's son..) came over to take a look at everything that needed doing. He said he was going to find out where the leak that was causing the damp was coming from and fix the plaster in Iain's room. He seemed to think it would be a big job (obviously..) and hinted that us being there would make the work harder. He tried to offer us another house that he had that was still empty, but it would cost us atleast another £15 a week each more. We told him that we could not afford to do that, but he kept going on and on about this house. Infuriated, we told him just to do the work as that was his responsibility as a Landlord - yes we read our contracts all you idiot agencies and Landlords out there! Angry, we went to bed and thought we would see what the builders were going to do the next day.
True to their word, the builders turned up bright and early the next morning and got to work finding the cause of the damp. It did not take them long to realise that it was coming from the down-pipe from the toilet and further inspection showed that the pipe was cracked beneath the ground. They set about fixing this actually did a decent job to my surprise. When they left though, we had a chance to take a closer look at their work. While they had fixed the pipe properly, they had filled in the hole with totally the wrong stuff and used the same stuff to 'fix' the subsidence cracks in the back of the house which was doing absolutely nothing in that situation. They had also attempted to sort the plaster out in Iain's room but the job was so bad it was already cracking. Plus they had not even done the whole wall, just the bit exposed by the ripped wall paper. The Landlord came back and told us some more about his other house, and lowered the price so it would be the same as what we were currently paying. We decided it would be worth a look so the next morning we went down to Reliance Properties and were taken to see this other house. Well, it was almost as bad! The furniture was basically falling apart, and despite being told it had a 'brand new' kitchen it actually had a new second-hand oven and the same old dirty cupboards that looked like they had been there for decades. We said that we were not interested and decided to start looking elsewhere for houses.
The lady from Environmental Health came in the mean time and confirmed to us what we already knew: that the house should have never been let out in the state it was in. Disappointingly though, it turned out the powers advertised by Environmental Health about forcing work to be done was not quite true - atleast not in the short term. This convinced us that we had to find somewhere else to live, and after a few dead ends we found that Sulets had a property left that fitted our needs. We organised a viewing and were pleased with the house from the off. Many emails and phonecalls were then exchanged and we set the wheels in motion for moving. We got Reliance Properties to agree to release us from our contract at the end of the month without any extra cost and Sulets let us move in a day early to make transportation easier. Finally we had a solution and then it was just all about counting down the days and packing. It had been a very stressful month but the move calmed everything down and we are very happy in our new place. The rent is cheaper too!