Personal

The Flat Saga

In December 2014, I moved into a flat. Since then, various things have gone wrong with it, and it’s needed a lot of work. The work is now almost complete, and when it is I’ll post an update here with a sort of “tour de flat”. But in the meantime, this is what happened.

I had to write it all out for my landlord, who was trying to work out how much compensation they needed to give me in order to make me not take them to court. Once I’d written it all out, I looked back over it and thought, “Holy shit, no wonder I’ve been so stressed.”

Scar’s Flat: The Whole Sorry Saga

8th December 2014:­ I moved in. I was told that it had been surveyed and found to be habitable, and that although there were one or two “cosmetic” things (such as wobbly bathroom floor tiles), there was nothing unsafe about the flat.

I was also told that I’d be getting a new kitchen and bathroom. I just didn’t expect it to pan out in quite the way it did.

When I moved in these were growing through the bathroom floor:

Mushrooms
Shit mushrooms

At the time, I didn’t know they were mushrooms growing from a buildup of human faeces. Yes, really.

December 2014 ­ The boiler was not turning on. I called the landlord, who sent the heating people, who did a temporary fix but told me the boiler was unsafe and needed to be replaced.

2nd January 2015­ A kitchen team came out to do a survey with a view to replacing the kitchen.

January 2015 The kitchen cupboards fell off the walls. I called the landlord, who said it didn’t matter since the kitchen would be refitted within the next couple of months.

KitchenCupboards
Eventually this happened with all of them

Early February 2015 The bathroom floor fell into my downstairs neighbour’s bedroom. Upon further investigation it turned out that (a) this had happened before and (b) the people the landlord sent round had consistently failed to notice that the toilet had never been attached to the wall properly, meaning that nine years’ worth of human sewage waste was causing the buildup under the bath, which led to the floor collapse. It was from this sewage waste that the mushrooms were growing. This had also happened before, in July of 2014, before I moved in. At that time the landlord just hired someone to patch up the ceiling downstairs and did not investigate fully.

Jpeg

3rd February 2015 The landlord sent someone out, who made a list of all the works that needed to be done. This included:

  • Sanitise bathroom where human faeces had leaked
  • Remove mushrooms
  • Fix flooring that had collapsed under the weight of human faeces
  • Fix ceiling downstairs that had collapsed under the weight of human faeces
  • Fix waste pipe from upstairs which was pouring waste water into my bath instead of down the drain
  • Replace bathroom fittings and fixtures
  • Replace bathroom and kitchen extractor fans
  • Lay vinyl flooring in bathroom
  • Strip, sanitise, plaster and paint wall in bedroom where human faeces had leaked from broken pipe
  • Fix holes in bedroom wall
  • Add air vents in living room and bedroom
  • Replace broken boiler
  • Replace broken radiators
  • Fix hole in floor of communal entrance to building
  • Fix crumbling wall in communal hallway
  • Renovate kitchen

19th February 2015­ Work began on the bathroom.

23rd February 2015 ­The boiler pressure suddenly rocketed to #4 on the gauge. The boiler people came out and did a temporary fix, but I was told it was unsafe and advised not to use it. I called the landlord to ask about a new boiler, but was told they weren’t going to put one in.

11th-­12th March 2015­ The bathroom floor was fixed, room sanitised, mushrooms removed and new fittings were installed. However, I had been told that the sewage pipe that runs through the adjoining wall into the bedroom was also leaking, causing a large stain. The contractor who carried out the work said it was the most severe disrepair he had ever seen. The boiler was still unsafe for use and I had been told by a surveyor that there was inadequate ventilation in the flat.

This is what it looks like when sewage stains your wall from the inside
This is what it looks like when sewage stains your wall from the inside

16th March 2015 I emailed the landlord’s customer care team with a list of concerns. No one replied.

30th March 2015­ I received a letter from the landlord saying that the works on the kitchen were being delayed due to time constraints. No reference was made to any of my other questions.

16th April 2015­ I received a letter about rent arrears. I called the landlord and got through to the customer care team, who told me that the rent people didn’t communicate with the repairs teams and that of course I was not liable for rent on a property that still had so much outstanding work on it.

April 2015­ I received another letter about rent, this one saying that there would be repossession action. I called again and was again assured that it was just an “administrative error”.

24th April 2015 ­ I emailed the landlord again, with a subject line including the word “URGENT”, once again listing the severe ongoing disrepair. No one replied.

24th April 2015­ The bathroom floor was completed, except the vinyl.

27th April 2015­ I emailed the landlord again. No one replied.

28th April 2015­ I emailed the landlord again. No one replied.

29th April 2015­ I emailed the landlord again. No one replied.

May 2015­ A representative contacted me on behalf of the landlord. He said he would have to come out and look at the flat. He had actually already done this but seemed to have forgotten about it, so I agreed to let him come out again.

12th May 2015­ The representative came out and noted down all the things that needed to be done and said he would get them finished. The list he left with included:

  • ­ New boiler needed
  • Broken radiator in living room
  • New extractor fans in kitchen and bathroom
  • Air vents in bedroom and living room
  • Wall in bedroom needs to be stripped, sanitised, plastered and painted
  • Vinyl needs to be laid in bathroom
  • Kitchen needs to be renovated

20th May 2015­ Work continued on the bathroom.

27th May 2015 ­More work was done on the bathroom.

29th May 2015­ A contractor came out to fix a hole which had opened up in the floor downstairs.

12th June 2015­ Contractors came out, stripped and sanitised the wall in the bedroom where the human faeces had leaked, and plastered it.

15th June 2015 A different contractor came out and told me the previous plasterer had not done the job correctly. He redid it.

16th June 2015­ The painter came out and painted part of the bedroom wall.

25th June 2015 ­A different contractor came out and finished off the work in the bedroom.

26th June 2015­ An electrician came out to look at the kitchen, because the fuse kept blowing.

July 2015­ I called and texted the representative who was looking after the jobs several times, chasing the remaining work. He sent out people to do the extractor fans. They did not do the work. The latest one came out and looked at the fans, then left again saying he needed to “order some new ones”. He seemed to be under the impression that this was a new job.

29th July 2015 ­ I emailed the landlord with the subject line ‘Ongoing Disrepair’. I received a reply from the customer care team, who informed me that I could raise a complaint but it would be quicker to not do so, and this would get the work done more effectively. I therefore agreed. They then informed me that the landlord would be in touch “at the beginning of September”. They also said the contractors had mixed up the job numbers and this was why the extractor fans had not been replaced.

29th July 2015­ The contractor came out to fix the extractor fans, but seemed to not know anything about it and left without doing any work.

31st July 2015­ A heating man came out to do a boiler safety check. So far, every representative who came out had told me that the boiler was not safe to use and had said they were telling the landlord that I needed a new boiler, but that the landlord was not allowing this to happen. Finally, the gas safety checker placed the following label on my boiler and told me not to use it.

Firefox_Screenshot_2016-07-20T09-43-14.810Z

31st July 2015­ I received a letter from the landlord’s rent arrears team, stating that the landlord would be seeking repossession. At this point, there was still a lot of outstanding work, including the boiler which was the most important thing left, and the person who had originally sent the rent demand had still never replied to my calls or emails.

31st July 2015­ I sent another email, along with a timeline detailing everything that had happened to date, to the landlord’s customer care team. No one replied. I heard nothing back at all, but the rent arrears letters stopped arriving. I therefore assumed that the landlord had realised their mistake and updated their systems, since I had already been told several months previously that this was why the letters were arriving.

13th August 2015­ A man came out and started trying to fix the boiler, but there was too much wrong with it so he said he had to get some extra parts and would make a new appointment.

28th August 2015­ A man came out to make the boiler useable. He said it was ridiculous that the landlord kept refusing to replace it, as it was only going to keep breaking and it was ultimately dangerous. He said he’d ask again if they would replace it. The flat was now habitable (because it had floors, no human faeces, heating and hot water), so I started paying rent again.

4th September 2015­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

18th September 2015­ A man came out to fix the radiator in the bathroom, which had been leaking all over the floor for several months. He did not fix it.

23rd September 2015­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

25th September 2015­ A man came out to fix the radiator in the bathroom. He did not fix it.

20th October 2015­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

22nd October 2015­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

30th October 2015 ­ A man came out to fix the extractor fans. He left without doing it.

4th November 2015­ I received a letter from the landlord saying that a kitchen replacement would be happening.

5th November 2015­ A man came out to fix the radiator in the bathroom. He fixed it.

18th November 2015­ A man came out to fix the extractor fans. He left without doing it.

26th November 2015­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

30th November 2015­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

16th December 2015­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

22nd December 2015 ­ I received a letter from the landlord saying that the kitchen replacement would not be going ahead due to rent arrears. I called the landlord and was assured that the kitchen replacement would go ahead and that the letter had been sent in error.

29th December 2015­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

26th January 2016­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

1st February 2016­ A representative came out to do a kitchen survey and talk through the choices for a new kitchen.

1st February 2016­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed it.

4th February 2016­ The heating broke again. The heating people came out and fixed

4th February 2016­ I emailed the landlord because I had once again received a letter saying that the kitchen would not be replaced due to rent arrears. No one replied.

8th February 2016­ I emailed again about the incorrect rent arrears. No one replied.

9th February 2016 ­I emailed again about the incorrect rent arrears. No one replied.

10th February 2016­ I emailed again about the incorrect rent arrears. No one replied.

11th February 2016­ A man came out to fix the living room radiator, which had been broken since I moved in.

11th February 2016 ­ I emailed again about the incorrect rent arrears. No one replied.

15th February 2016­ I emailed again about the incorrect rent arrears. I told them that if the kitchen replacement had not been arranged by the 22nd of February, I would be taking legal action. No one replied.

16th February 2016­ I emailed again about the incorrect rent arrears. I told them that if the kitchen replacement had not been arranged by the 22nd of February, I would be taking legal action. No one replied.

17th February 2016­ I emailed again about the incorrect rent arrears. I told them that if the kitchen replacement had not been arranged by the 22nd of February, I would be taking legal action. No one replied.

18th February 2016­ I emailed again about the incorrect rent arrears. I told them that if the kitchen replacement had not been arranged by the 22nd of February, I would be taking legal action. No one replied, but I did receive a letter arranging work to be started on the kitchen. Since this had been my criterion for not taking legal action, I assumed this was my reply and did not do so.

22nd February 2016­ Someone came out to install the air vents. However, he had been given the wrong instructions and left without doing the job.

9th March 2016­ Work was started on the kitchen.

10th March 2016­ Someone came out and installed the air vents.

17th March 2016­ Someone from the landlord’s customer care team replied and said they were unable to become involved because I had “taken legal action”. He also said “However, should you decide not to pursue the legal route, we would be happy to try and assist with your concerns.” I replied that I had not begun legal action because the work on the kitchen had been scheduled as requested. I asked for a reply. No one responded.

5th April 2016­ Work on the kitchen was finished.

April 2016­ A lady came out to check that work on the kitchen had been completed. She said a new boiler should have been part of this and said she’d ask the landlord to put one in.

18th April 2016­ I emailed the landlord again asking for a response. No one replied.

4th May 2016­ I received an email from someone at the landlord’s customer care team. She apologised for everything that had happened, arranged for a new boiler to be installed, cancelled the incorrect rent arrears, and arranged compensation.

16th July 2016 Work on the flat was finally finished.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I’ve been a bit stressed for the past year and a half. 

6 thoughts on “The Flat Saga”

  1. I have so many questions. How the hell were you able to meet all these contractors? Do you work from home? Why on earth did you stay (but then again I can see how being told “soon” often enough kept you there. I’m baffled and disgusted on your behalf and so glad it’s all fixed! Horror story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luckily, I do work from home! Although I did think several times “If I’d had a normal job, I wouldn’t have it anymore!”

      Why I stayed – because I have the option to buy it for much less than the normal price once it’s stopped being a falling-down hellhole. It’s in a nice part of London, it’s a Georgian conversion, and I could see from the start that it had so much potential. Of course, I didn’t know the hell I’d have to go through first. But I’m hoping it’ll be worth it.

      Now that it’s all fixed up I’m planning on doing a “virtual tour” post too, so you’ll be able to see how much better it looks now! Plus, all the awful things that happened had the end result of making the landlord replace most of my flat, so it now feels new and shiny!

      Liked by 1 person

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