Friends of mine were chatting the other day about experiences with landlords and landladys – the people to whom you fork out a substantial proportion of your monthly salary for the privilege of living in their house. Believe me, I have plenty of tales.
First there was the flat I shared back in 1996, the first place I rented after leaving home. The owner was female, 30 years old, very friendly at first but totally insane when it came to the state of her home. For a start she was obsessively tidy and the way she reacted if anyone deviated even slightly from her exacting standards made me wonder why she wanted a flatmate in the first place. Her bathroom fetish was even more entertaining, the way she insisted that nothing in there was to ever get wet. I’ll leave you to work out how.
In fairness when she wasn’t being insane and hormonal she was great fun to live with but when she finally got tired of things and asked me to leave it was almost a blessing in disguise.
Happily I fell on my feet second time around, moving just down the road to live in a shared house with four other people. The landlord was 50, balding and terminally unemployed. His rotating set of three lodgers (of which I was one for three years) paid his mortgage and kept him company and for that reason we had the run of the place and could treat it like a hotel. He did all the cleaning, the washing up, paid the bills, the works. All we had to do was pay the rent and lock the door afterwards. Not to mention his family of cats, two of whom took a shine to me and took up semi-permanent residence in my room although the way they lined up to watch when I was having sex was mildly disconcerting. None of the women involved appeared to mind oddly enough.
I could happily have stayed there longer but for the fact the guy was chronically overweight and cruising for his first heart attack – which he apparently had a few months after I moved out to go to London. There after two frustrating weeks I lucked out again and found a room in a shared house in Tottenham where I could have cable TV, my own phone (perfect for internet) and a clean bathroom with a shower for the first time in years. The landlady there divided her time between the house, a place in West London and America. One summer she came home and decided to do a loft conversion to build herself a little penthouse at the top. Hence the next few months saw the house filled with builders – and a reduction in the rent for us to compensate. Bonus.
My final destination for now was the move last summer to an astonishing palace in Docklands, a two bedroom flat in a brand new development (complete with its own gym) that was owned by a 30-something lady who originally bought the place with a partner and bought his half out when they split up. Flatmate was a video producer called Adrian who was the biggest 40 year old Playstation fan I’d ever come across. The only cloud appeared to be the landlady who was, frankly, crap at it. She lived on the south coast and would stay quiet for months at a time before popping up with a crisis when she decided she needed to look like she was doing something.
Adrian moved out at Christmas, leaving me on my own for a few weeks until Mila arrived in the country. The landlady agreed that Mila could move in, put the rent up accordingly (which was fair enough) and then set about trying to let the vacant room. In this last part she has failed utterly, eventually deciding that nobody wants to come and live with a couple and thus giving us both notice so she can let the entire flat as a unit.
Hence I am homeless at the end of May, and the frustrating process of looking for somewhere new begins. I’m hoping for a hassle free landlord this time around. Fingers crossed.