Moving House: Part One
I wrote this post yesterday, sitting in the living room of our new (rented) flat:
The Window Doctor (probably not his real name) is coming ‘at some point’ today to fix one of the bedroom windows (it doesn’t shut) so I’ve camped up here for the day. It’s me, my laptop, a desk and a packed lunch. We haven’t transferred the internet yet, so I have no distractions from working on my corrections. I don’t even have milk or a kettle to make tea.
Well, I do have distractions, clearly. I may not have an internet connection, but I can write a blog post in Word and then copy and paste it later! Ah ha! I also have lots of cleaning to do.
I have lived in several rented properties, and without doubt this move has been the most frustrating so far. Letting agencies are not easy businesses to deal with, in my experience. I went in to our local branch earlier this week to collect the keys for our new flat. I was given the keys, I signed for them, then I was asked if I’d paid the deposit plus first month’s rent (a rather large sum of money). I said yes, my boyfriend had paid it last week. Do I have a receipt? No, because my boyfriend paid over the phone. Oh, so I can’t have the keys, I need to hand them back until they can prove one of us has paid, and they can’t do that until the member of staff who knows these things has returned to the office from a viewing. This could be ten minutes, this could be two hours, why don’t I go home and they’ll ring me later. So I unsign the form, give the keys back, and then a colleague suggests they check the bank account themselves to see if the money went through. What a good idea! Account checked, we have paid (told you), keys are given back to me, form resigned, I’m good to go.
Ben and I headed over to the new flat, it’s only a few minutes by car from our old one. We arrive, and find that the keys on our two key rings (one set of keys per tenant) aren’t the same. The front door has two locks, one key ring has two keys, one only has one. So we can’t access the flat independently of one another. Anyway, into the flat we go. We’ve been given the inventory and we want to go through it and check that it’s all okay.
What frustrates me the most about renting properties is that the landlord isn’t obliged to clean the property between tenants. Yes, our contract does say we have to clean the flat before we leave, but people have different standards of cleaning. I’m no cleaning obsessive by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be nice if, for once, a landlord paid to have a professional cleaner with professional equipment come and just give the property a once-over. Our landlord had said the carpet had been professionally cleaned before we moved in.
Ben and I were prepared for some cleaning, so on the first evening clean we did! I put a vinegar wash through the washing machine to freshen it up and then cleaned the oven (which still had chips in the bottom, how that counts as ‘clean’ I don’t know). I also cleaned the bathroom whilst Ben cleaned the carpets. He had borrowed from his parents one of those Vax carpet cleaner things that washes as it vacuums (type thing) and he set to work on the living room carpet (bear in mind the carpets have already been professionally cleaned). Within just a few minutes the waste water in the cleaner was black. Not just a bit dirty, but black. He went over it again once it had dried, and that too was black. I think the carpet was cleaned four times in the end before we were satisfied! If we can do that with an ordinary domestic cleaner, surely the professional cleaner would have done so much better? Or I dread to think how bad it was to begin with!
The following evening Ben came back to start moving some things in. The previous tenant had left behind a wardrobe, and we were told we could get rid of it (why is that our responsibility, in an unfurnished flat? How are we supposed to get a huge wooden wardrobe in the car to dispose of it, when it doesn’t break down in to smaller pieces?). I was at a Guiding meeting, and Ben sent me a photo of the wall after he’d moved the wardrobe. It was covered in black mould. Lovely.
The next morning, straight down to the letting agency, to hand in our copy of the inventory with two A4 sides of notes explaining the various issues we had found. They originally said it was our responsibility to get a second key cut, but eventually agreed that yes, two tenants, each named separately on the contract, probably do deserve a key each. I know getting a key cut isn’t expensive, but it’s the principle. A key was cut, and even delivered to the flat for us. They’ve also arranged for The Window Doctor to come out today (hence why I’m at the flat) and they’ve said that yes the mould is disgusting. We’ve removed the mould with a light bleach solution (on their instructions) and the wall does look much better now, so we’re hoping it was condensation and not damp (do I sound like I know what I’m talking about?!). The wardrobe we carried down to the garage, and it will stay there until we can remove it properly (or get someone else to remove it!). The carpets are clean, the oven is shiny, the washing machine is fresh and now we’re starting to move our belongings in, it feels a bit more like home.
Whilst I’m waiting for The Window Doctor I’m writing my corrections and also cleaning the balcony. The balcony! The patio stones were black, covered in dirt and lichen, Ben bought some mild patio cleaning solution and a scrubbing brush, and in just a matter of minutes with some elbow grease the black stuff comes off. It is the most satisfying cleaning I think I’ve ever done! It needs to be left between applications, but already we can see the difference. Look at the clean side compared with the untouched side!
The flat is lovely, definitely the best flat we saw out of all the viewings we did (I say we, Ben viewed this one on his own and just hoped I’d like it!). It is smaller than our current flat, but probably not by much, it’s hard to tell with a different room arrangement. It’s a first floor flat with patio doors on to the balcony, which is big enough for an airer (I can dry clothes outside!) and a table and two chairs (once we’ve bought them). Space for some flowers too, I’m probably going to end up killing them, but I will do my best to see them thrive.
The balcony overlooks the playing fields of the nearby primary school, and it's lunchtime. There I was on the balcony, about to do a bit more scrubbing, when I hear a voice shout "Look! It's Fluffy Owl!'. As I look up, I see two of my Brownies wildly waving at me. Ah, there is no escape from them!
The cleaning is basically finished now, The Window Doctor and his colleague arrived to fix the window, and a van is booked for next week to move our furniture. It's all coming together, finally!