Saturday, 17 July 2010

The previous inhabitants


This post I originally put on Mumsnet, in reply to an original post thanking the people who had owned the poster's previous house before her. Thank you, she said, for leaving it in the state they did. The thread struck a chord, as plenty of other people had posted their tales of what they moved into. Here is mine.

As our speciality was buying houses no one else wanted, I have a lot of stories about what can be left, but first, I'd like to award a special prize to the mother who came to look round our first house with her daughter when we were selling it. "ALL these cats," she said, glaring at me, "and NO CHILDREN!" I was very, very pregnant with my son at the time. I was vast. Couldn't be missed. We only had two cats. We've always wondered what on earth she was on.

Anyway:

thank you to those who sold us houses for:

House 1
Cutting off all the light fittings and leaving dangling flexes. Thought this was an urban myth until it happened to me.

"Spilling the cats' water" when we came to visit and when our surveyor came round, to hide the fact there was a burst pipe under the concrete kitchen floor you couldn't be bothered to mend.

Genuinely, for running your therapy business out of the front bedroom. "People need to scream," you told me. The neighbours fell on our necks with relief when we moved in. We could do no wrong after you, so thanks for that.

House 2
Cutting off all the gas fires (which had been in every room as the house had been bedsits) by just lopping off the pipes underneath the floorboards and not bothering to cap them. My, we had fun when we tried to connect the cooker. Thank goodness we had the gas board round to do it. We almost enjoyed his panicky face.

I did enjoy the visits from the debt collectors anxious to trace you.

We had a lot of fun sorting out the electrics after you bypassed all the electric coin meters by a partial re-wire which involved dumping the meters under the floorboards. Took us a while to find that one.

Not telling us that you'd failed to do whatever it was you did to bypass the meters to the one in the kitchen, which was fun when it ran out, as of course it did quite soon after we moved in. We did get very used to putting the coins through to keep the fridge going, and I'm sure it was a first for the house sitter when we went away.

Starting to dismantle a wall, realising it was structural, and boarding over the disaster you'd left.

House 3
Not dangerous, just bloody filthy. We sent the children elsewhere for 5 days before we allowed them in, and we have strong stomachs:

Thanks for never, ever opening the windows. They were black. Inside. For some reason you did pay a window cleaner to do the outside. Completely pointlessly, as you couldn't actually see out.

For dumping your chewing gum on the carpet next to the bath and never bothering to remove it. You liked chewing gum, didn't you? There were quite a lot of other places you'd left it.

For having a rare talent for spilling stuff and never, ever, mopping it up.

For never cleaning the Aga. It took me 8 weeks to clean it.

For leaving us some lovely discoveries: the stair bannister was white, not black. The black was grease. There was a Victorian tiled floor under the grime in the hall. It took my sister two solid days of work to uncover it.

For never cleaning the loos.... beyond vile.. WHY? Never seen loos like it before or since.

For leaving all that hair about. You all had hair when we saw you, so presumably it had simply gathered over the years, rather than in a quick moult.

I didn't mind your dodgy decorating decisions: it doesn't take a lot of effort to slap paint around. Navy ceilings aren't my thing; nor are navy walls, or orange blotchy ones, or bright red gloss woodwork but they've all gone now.

Frankly, if you hadn't been such filthpackets, we'd never have been able to buy the house, so we do owe you a debt of gratitude. Am still puzzled that apparently in your 9 years of attempting to sell the place that no one mentioned that the grime might be putting people off, to say nothing of the smell.

5 comments:

Moggypie said...

Very funny! Though I'm sure it wasn't as you were going through it...my mind is starting to stroll back in time to various New York City apartments I looked at and places I lived, but it's too early here right now to plumb the depths, so never mind.

pullein-thompson-archive said...

When I moved into my last flat, the person did not know how to clean or could not be bothered (I suspect the latter as I found a couple of used needles so the last person was obviously using drugs). As it was rented, the washing machine, fridge and cooker came with it. The cooker was black with muck, and the oven door was just plain black. Imagine my horror when I found not only the dirt, but cooked food that they had left in there. The oven took 6 bottles of oven cleaner for it to be acceptable to even cook in, it was that bad. I spent a month just cleaning (and repainting, as nearly all the rooms the walls were nicotine coloured, and the ceilings too) before I dared move in.

The first 10 days was fun, the electric meter had gone into negative credit, meaning that it either had to be reset or put £30 in the meter to get it back to zero. Despite phoning British Gas several times and them promising that someone would be there between 8-6pm nobody turned up. That happened twice, so in the end I had to put £50 in the meter. So the first 10 days the only way to get hot water was to use a camping stove. Not only that, but the cleaning was done in December, with no heating at all (as there was no central heating in the flat until 3 months before I moved out), & no gas at the property either. So for the first 10 days it was limited to whatever water we could boil and during daylight hours only. I remember cleaning in my coat and still being frozen to death (as the outside temperature was only 2C). It was so cold once that the living room door got stuck and after 20 mins of useless tugging, in the end, to get out of the flat I had to climb through the window (fortunately I lived on the ground floor) and go through the flat door. After that, we dismantled the door handle and pit it back a week later so it didnt happen again.

Apparently that was the better ones - most of the time they had to get contract cleaners to clean the flats/houses/bedsits beforehand. As it was a housing charity, they decided that in the end everyone had to have monthly home checks (to make sure that nobody was leaving them in a bad state), but half the time they didnt bother with me as they could clearly see that I had all the time in an acceptable state (despite having 2 cats). When I left it was spotless, you could eat the dinner off the kitchen floor. Whereas before, you dare not. And as for the kitchen sink, that took 10 attempts before you use it.

pullein-thompson-archive said...

Oh and another thing, none of the rooms had working lightbulbs, so once the meter was back in credit, I still could not work in the semi-dark until a couple of days later when I finally managed to buy some (and this was before the normal ones were banned so it was easy & cheap enough to get hold of any).

When I left, at least there was light bulbs there (they were the energy efficient ones, but I got them either free from the electric company or from Warm Wales in return for answering a questionnaire so it was not like I paid out for them), so they didnt nearly fell over the (internal) steps in the hall in the dark as I did several times & suffer a twisted ankle for a week.

Mystica said...

Lovely post and very timely for me - have just been given back my house which I gave on rent for 2 years. It needs workmen in to repair stuff - there is a pole going up in the bedroom through the roof as well? Pole dancing anyone???

Jane Badger said...

Moggypie - I think I took most of it in my stride - the one that really rankled was the gas. It took ages for the gas board to sort it all out, and we limped along with only the microwave. It's funny the things that do irk when others don't. I look forward to the New York depths if you get chance to plumb them ever.

PTA: that makes my efforts look completely pathetic. I was just staggered at the idea of you having to climb in and out of the window because you couldn't open the door. As you say, thank goodness you lived on the ground floor.

Mystica - a pole? My mind is boggling.