Near death experiences in private rented accommodation
Updated: Mar 24
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” - how aptly the words of Charles Dickens describe my journey through private rented accommodation. The path as an artist always has a yin and a yang and good drama equals passionate art which, I know, is debatable. Being a risk taker and ploughing all my money into my demos, recordings, and art and business ventures has always taken precedence over obtaining a mortgage, but there have been consequences.
Having moved recently to a lovely wee place in Essex after my latest escape from yet another house of horrors, I’m finally just taking stock of what I’ve actually survived over the last 9 years (and 13 house moves) since re-locating to Scotland. The list is as follows: carbon monoxide leaks because the landlord is “too tight” to spend the money on a new boiler (as confirmed by friendly workmen); gas leaks because of yet more faulty boilers and landlords cutting corners by using engineers who are not properly qualified; slightly unhinged flat mates who mean no harm but encourage you to deal with your own challenges without taking them out on the rest of the world; trying to eat healthily when the cooker is broken for months, which is quite a challenge for a diabetic coeliac; and finally abusive landlords who try to embezzle receipts and don’t have correct fire safety procedures in place, and who call you names for asking for them.
My mum and I walked into another new flat five days before Christmas with my suitcase only to find the landlord on his phone to the police after somebody had put a window through. The room was covered in glass and a huge shard was pointing face down on the very sofa I would probably have slept on whilst mum was visiting. Luckily the removal company who were due to move my belongings from another flat I’d been staying in and who were due to arrive in half an hour (my previous landlord was moving to India), had storage containers and were able to transport all my worldly possessions straight into storage. The light to the dark side of this situation after going back to Leeds (on a train) with my mum with a ton of life possessions and suitcases (my long suffering Ma) and crying then laughing as it was so unbelievable; a song! (It was five days before Christmas). I have to say though, that that particular landlord was lovely. He offered to re-decorate the flat and knock the rent down but I decided, however, that because I already felt like a character from the film “Final Destination” that I’d better decline since the hand of fate had already saved me once from being decapitated by a shard of glass. He actually restored my faith in landlords though after having dealt with ones who didn’t really care if you lived or died.
Something I Couldn’t Say…
If anyone wonders why my first album took so long, there was a lot of subtext going on behind the scenes. And that is the short edited version. I am currently in a beautiful home, in a beautiful place, with a brilliant landlord who wants me to stay, and breathing a sigh of relief whilst writing new material. (Although I am still involved in a dispute over a harassment case and much more that I endured at the last place I was residing in, but this time I’ve got the strength to pursue justice as I haven’t been gassed or poisoned by carbon monoxide because the landlord couldn’t be bothered to buy a new boiler). Watch this space……!
I met a few of them too but kind of liked them being around…… Let’s take Harry for example, who was a very cheeky acrobatic mouse at one place. He could actually fling himself onto my hob from the floor and head dive off again when I caught him… Then there was Jaws at my last place who was so noisy chewing on things in my cupboard at night that I thought, on one occasion, that there was a dog in the room, then one day I came home to find a slice of bread massacred into a mound of crumbs. It took me ages to figure out what it was…
Friendship and love
I just thank the universe for my amazing friends and If I have one message for landlords it would be ‘think before you let. A home is where it all begins.” 💙
* * * U P D A T E * * *
“In March 2019 (this year), after a year of pursuing Fortis Student Living for false allegations about me causing “malicious damage” to the property, being sent threatening letters and harassed every month for rent (which had been duly paid), I finally received a full written apology. They accepted full liability.
I was also informed that their computer systems across the UK would be made accessible for sight impaired residents and also properly trained lettings managers would be employed to handle tenants contracts in the correct manner.”
‘Thanks and resources” Having trouble yourself? Here are some resourced who asssisted along the way’’ Shelter Scotland:https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/50/living_homes_standard Citizen’s Advice Bureau Edinburgh: https://www.citizensadviceedinburgh.org.uk/contact-information Landlord Registration SCOTLAND: https://www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk/