Dear Reader, bear with me. I have somethings to ‘get off my chest’ regarding my enforced departure from my previous abode as I wish to consign facts and photographs of the whole sorry mess to my brand new blue bin which I had delivered on Wednesday last (thank you Motherwell District Council for your prompt response – you even had my house number on it – see, not everything you do is ‘rubbish!’)
To my ex Landlord
In December of 2013 I moved into your beautiful picturesque cottage: open plan kitchen/ diner/ lounge, large double bedroom with en suite facilities and family bathroom on the ground floor. Upstairs there were two double bedrooms and lots of loft space. With some huffing and puffing and pushing and shoving we managed to accommodate all of my furniture, including the piano, to my satisfaction. There was oodles of wall space for paintings, curtains and blinds from the previous house fitted perfectly, Christmas decorations went up in jig time and I was very happy. You were a brand new landlord and came along – with your mother – to see how your tenant was settling in. We all had tea. You both left on a high, pleased as punch with everything and promising me that any concerns or anxieties would be promptly resolved to my satisfaction. Do you remember? That promise was put to the test in February 2014 when I had to cancel a granddaughter’s birthday party due to blocked drains which affected toilets and en suite shower. The Letting Agent eventually attended to this after a fashion – and you were informed.
The neighbour(who had lived next door to the cottage for forty years)seemed to be quite used to such occurrences (but only when the cottage was occupied) as it affected her property to some extent too. Her son (and friend who happened to work for Scottish Water) usually took care of it (!) so she told me. I, therefore, stocked up with Soda Crystals, a plethora of the ‘Mr Muscle’ products and a reliable plunger….. just in case.
Four months later…. same event ….but worse. Now what passed between you and your letting agent is something that only you both know but I know that in the phone calls you made to me (remember?) you decried him for not doing the job he was being paid to do – while he complained to me of your tardiness and reluctance to act. Eventually, ‘Dynarod’, the experts, were called in and did an exploratory investigation of the drains which they videoed. Apparently someone ‘lost’ the footage. Dynarod returned and submitted a written report of which I have a copy. I am led to believe, however, that you know nothing about it. How can this be? The faults with the underground drainage (which are considerable) were estimated to cost around seven thousand pounds to repair. My neighbour (home owner) was being asked to contribute a share of the cost of the proposed work since part of her land was to be excavated. This she flatly refused to do. I was scheduled to go on holiday for three weeks in July and, by telephone, you assured me that the matter would be resolved sooner rather than later. Do you remember? I was extremely anxious about leaving the house. You told me not to worry.
On my return, imagine my relief to find that things looked absolutely ‘normal (then again no one had been living in the cottage for three weeks).
‘Expect a letter from Scottish Water,’ I was told by you, ‘they are taking over responsibility.’ Well that didn’t happen (although I was advised by a ‘Scottish Water person’ to keep pouring kettlefuls of boiling water down my drains!) Communications between the four parties (myself, yourself, the letting agent and the neighbour) were becoming rather difficult and in the meantime nothing was being done.
On the Sunday evening of November 26th there was an ominous rumbling from the ensuite. What then erupted from the shower drain was too disgusting for me to try and describe now….. and the smell…. Christopher Columbus!! I watched in horror as the effluent overflowed from the shower onto the floor and towards the bedroom. I threw down what was to hand to try and stem the flow …… I felt physically sick. We (my daughter and I) phoned the emergency number for help. No one was able to help. We were told to phone the next morning at 1100hrs when the Letting Agent himself would be available. My daughter took photographs. I spent the night at my daughter’s home in Livingston,(a drive of 20+miles)
We drove down from Livingston the following day. The overpowering smell in the house was atrocious and the ‘volcano’ had obviously been ‘active’ during the night. We rolled up bedclothes and a bedroom rug and could see where the effluent had seeped under the fitted carpet. We waited for the agent to arrive or call but we waited in vain. In despair I called the Environmental Health Department. They advised me to get a plumber(!) I telephoned the Letting Agency again. They were very sorry but they couldn’t contact their manager but were doing their best. It was 1300hrs by this time. ‘ Isn’t that your manager’s voice I hear in the background?’ I ventured to ask.’ Oh, he’s just come in the door!’ replied the (quick-witted) assistant. Nothing was resolved that day other than the promise of a cleaner to tackle some kind of mopping up operation and a meeting with himself, the following evening (Tuesday).
The Letting Agent certainly made his feelings clear at the meeting (with four family members present). He was appalled and disgusted and was going to ‘demand’ your presence at the cottage so that you could see (and smell!) the situation for yourself. He ‘lost his bottle’ about confronting the next door neighbour (which he had promised to do) but would organise a meeting with yourself, himself and us that coming Friday (31st Oct.,) at 1800hrs. We waited, no one arrived and the Letting agent, when contacted, hotly denied making any such arrangement. I went back to Livingston.
We continued to drive from Livingston each day to monitor the situation. The smell permeated everything. I was in despair. We were removing what we could manage each day for fear of contamination. You arrived at the cottage on Wednesday 12th Nov., and met with my neighbour and an environmental health official. Do you remember? I was not party to the proceedings (being only the tenant) but my daughter was in the cottage when you informed her that you, yourself, had cleared ‘the blockage’* and that the house was now fit for me to return to (your brother would come and ‘clean’ the bedroom carpet) and to resume paying my rent – which I had withheld. I was appalled at the indifference to the grossly unhygienic state of the house and the fact that the root cause had still not been addressed but your response to that, was to point out to me that there were two other bedrooms in the property which I could choose to use if I found it impossible to occupy the main ensuite room……. and what?…….wait for the next upsurge? Would you have subjected your own mother to this? I am shocked that a person of your status should shirk responsibility as callously as you did. You have most certainly lost my respect, particularly in the light of what you stand for. I have been treated disgracefully by both yourself and your letting agent – bullies both – and sympathise most sincerely with all those who suffer from any distressing involvement with irresponsible, greedy landlords.
I have no positive expectations of you any more. At seventy four I am still flabbergasted at the kind of people who have let me down but still, it is never too late for anyone to learn. As I begin to brush away the debris in my life, I can see more clearly the real treasures beneath… and it makes me so contented. I am aware now that you have relinquished the role of landlord (wise move) and have sold the property on – problems and all……dear oh dear! However, I am very curious to know how YOU, in your profession, deal with someone who shirks responsibility?….. or is it as easy as ‘don’t do as I do….do as I say!’ Well, you know what they say …….’What goes around…….
Yours very sincerely
*By the way, I know you cleared ‘the blockage’ but it was with the help of a plumber called in (and I think not for the first time) by the neighbour – who was also a neighbour. She helped you pay him (she told me) and gave him a nice bottle of ‘the hard stuff’ for his trouble…..don’t you remember?Wow! I feel so much better for that! A weight has been lifted – I can now let this particular burden go…… to the new blue bin!….. oh and let’s take that ‘NEXT’ catalogue while we’re at it….. if I can flag down a passing forklift truck………my dear, have you felt the weight of it?! Suffering Succotash! I’ll bet it weighs more than some of the models inside it! x