• Wow. So much for paying professionals…

    Man, I’ve dealt with some BS in my near decade of renting, but this has pushed me over the edge. Did I say agencies are better than private landlords? Whoops. I take that back.

    That’s twice now the property manager has been an absolute twat upon moving out.

    Last time around, dealing with them was a breeze throughout the entire tenancy … until our last afternoon. It was literally the day before we flew out of the country, leaving for 6 months. We waited, shivering, in our garage, as the rain started coming down, for the PM to show up for final inspection. Numerous calls to his phone went unanswered. Finally we gave up, placed the keys in the house and left. First thing in the morning, he starts trying to get in touch asking what happened – useless much? No, we are literally leaving the country TONIGHT, we do not have time to come back for a walkthrough – you will have to do it without us. We didn’t get our bond back until we returned to NZ, either – he never sent through the paperwork to me and I had to chase him for it when we came back to the country.

    This time around, it was with an even bigger (and thus, ostensibly more professional) agency. Alas, they turned out to be douchebags pretty early on, and every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it kept building until move-out. These guys instruct you to drop off the keys at the office, and then do the final inspection on their own rather than going through the house with you in person. Two days later we heard from them – outlining an absolute litany of basic complaints about cleaning. (The legal requirement is to leave a property ‘reasonably clean and tidy’, which translated to a pretty grey area. However, I can tell you never had an issue at ANY of the many places we’ve lived. We know how to mop a floor and scrub a shower.) They also conveniently ‘forgot’ that they had sold us the fridge upon move-in (for owner had wanted to get rid of it, probably as it was getting older) and more or less accused us of stealing it. Oh, and I’m not even going to go into the dramas they caused in trying to force us to move out earlier than our planned date.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about power, and the imbalance of it in the renting market. I’ve already been incredibly stressed out for months on end, and this whole situation with the house has basically doubled my stress levels since the start of the year. I made the decision early on that my priority was getting the hell out of here with as little headache as possible, while knowing the agency was highly likely to make it a hassle based on their behaviour to date.

    So often it’s a question of where you can afford the time/money to pursue a conflict. For example, they insisted on going ahead with hiring a cleaner anyway (end result: splitting the bill). As another example: it’s actually unlawful to have a clause in a lease requiring carpet cleaning at the end of the tenancy. However you’ll find these in many, many contracts. I know I have, and gone along with it because in a tight market it’s a miracle if you can get approved for a place at all.

    And for bigger stuff … Do you really want to jeopardise your chances of ever getting another place to live, if you take something to the Tenancy Tribunal and have that associated with your name as public record (no matter what the result)?

    Cannot wait to be off the renting hamster wheel.

  • Places I have lived: A rundown of my renting history

    As I mentioned in this post, the housing market in NZ is rather unique. Crappy stock, sky-high prices.

    I thought it might be fun (in what sense of the word, I’m not quite sure, actually) to recount all the places I’ve lived in since leaving home.

    Student life is, of course, meant for building up horror stories about bootstrapping. Two-minute noodles. Walls of beer bottles. Bongs and one-night stands and other awful flatmate escapades.

    The boarding house

    My first place was .. an experience. Along with one of my best friends, we set out to find somewhere we could both live. Nobody would rent to 17-year-olds, and no flats were advertising two empty rooms at once. Eventually though, we found a special situation: a six-bedroom townhouse/boarding house where each tenant paid the landlord individually. And he didn’t mind if we weren’t 18. (He actually also proposed us living in the basement apartment of his own house, with cheap rent in exchange for help with chores and cooking. That was a bit too weird, though.)

    The first night my cell phone was stolen off the coffee table. Everybody locked their rooms when they weren’t home. Flatmates came and went, including the P-addict who used my soap and shampoo, the crazy old lady who threw dishes into the bin if they weren’t washed immediately, the girl who slept with the middle-aged body builder who lived next door, the guy just out of jail, and more.

    The family townhouse

    Next was another terraced house, with my friend and her grandad. Nothing much to report there. It didn’t last long; her mother came back to the country and I got the boot so she could live there instead.

    The quiet suburban house

    This is the furthest I’ve ever lived from public transport – a good 20 minute walk at least. Very inconvenient. Again, only lasted a few months.

    The old bungalow

    This was the oldest house I’d ever lived in, but it did have mixer taps (this is a requirement for me in any house). Flatmate had a few dope plants growing in the cupboard, but otherwise was sweet to live with. My first experience living on a main artery road, in which I learned to factor in road-crossing time in my walk to the bus stop, T had a major car accident just outside, and I vowed I would never buy a house on a busy road.

    The suburban apartment

    Apartments are rare outside of the CBD, but this was one of the notorious blocks. We were here for about a year. You pretty much couldn’t make any noise; the big communal rubbish bins were always overflowing and the pool was usually kinda grotty. Our dishwasher was home to cockroaches and for some reason half our mail never made it to our letterboxes, which were inside the lobby (I was a student then so had plenty of correspondence from Studylink to deal to … or I should have had, anyway).

    The ghetto house

    Nobody would rent to students. So we ended up in the ghetto. Our street was nice at one end, but at the other end was a state housing enclave – and that’s the end we lived at. Our room was a converted garage. There was mould in the closet, on the ceiling, and I could see my breath in front of me in the winter. Our landlord lost his job and when the hot water cylinder went, he took over a month to fix it. That was coming into winter, too. He also then tried to pin a bunch of things on us when we left, like the roof caving in. Oh, and we got burgled… three times?

    Other fun things: nightmare flatmate still owes me nearly a grand from this. He was a terrible drunk and broke a couple of panes in our door while on the piss. Similarly, the boys used to wrestle all the time and managed to break a couple of windows doing so. I got half decent at painting/puttying. Nightmare flatmate also got his car rear window smashed several times, mostly by the shits down the road who also burgled us, and once by his girlfriend.

    The thoroughfare house

    Weed got sold. People came and went. One of the flatties literally had a walk in closet for a room. Another had a bit of casual polygamy going on. Lots of Naruto was watched.

    The bottom floor studio

    A really nice small place, albeit a tiny kitchen with old cupboards. But brand new bathroom, gorgeous built in cupboards and drawers and a cute little patio-type thing. It was a quiet, affluent neighbourhood handy to everything – and really cheap.

    The bad: the yard was always in the shade so I hardly ever used the patio and our clothes took forever to dry on the line; it got a little too small for our liking (even the apartment we lived in had a living room); the landlord’s kids upstairs were often loud and the floor was thin; it was always dark because we were on the bottom floor and surrounded by fence/trees; T’s first bike got stolen, after which he hated the place; and it was just that little bit too far away from the west, where everyone he knows lives.

    Current house

    Also on a main road, but not at the same level as the other bungalow. We have a garage, a deck, lots of sun, a 20-minute walk to work for me and a spare room for junk, among other things. After moving in, we also found the previous occupants had been growing cannabis in the space between the roof and the house, hacking a power point to run electricity up into that space, and apparently using the hall cupboard (now my wardrobe) for drying.

    The house itself isn’t all that nice, I’ll be honest – it needs work and it’s very much a rental (but all the cosmetic things, like the carpets and walls, are pretty well hidden once you move in with all your stuff). It’s at the low end of my standards, but it does well enough.

    The house itself is split into two dwellings; the back one is a one-bedroom, and the tenant is a lovely older lady who’s rarely home. In fact, we haven’t seen since Christmas and just found out she’s down south caring for her sick mother. Hope she can continue to pay rent and keep her place – quiet neighbours are great!

    So, that’s my woeful housing history from 2005-2012. What does yours look like?

  • All I want for Christmas

    is hot running water.

    And at this rate I’ll be lucky to get it by then!

    Plumber came today, spoke to BF and informed him there’s a leak under the house, and the mains needs to be moved up to the roof. But first someone needs to come with sonic equipment to detect the leak’s location, then fix it.

    Oddly enough, LL hasn’t been spotted much this week….

    Oh, and he then told him to not call him again as he wants nothing to do with this job, it’s just that “horrible”.


    Think LL is finally realising that buying a rental property was not the answer to his problem, but far from it.

    I doubt he has the cash to fix this, and I feel sorry for him, but that’s part of your undertaking when you become a LL. You need cash reserves for situations like this.

    Not to mention the lack of insulation, the damp and mould in our room, the windows that don’t quite close…

    Like I said, three more months.

  • Landlord dramas

    Got my driver’s licence in the mail today. I look….incredibly dorky. But it’s still a better photo than the one on my learner’s, and after four years it’s about time!

    Anyway, what I wanted to write about today is our landlord. He’s driving us insane! Where to start? His excessive drinking. Which I wouldn’t care about, except he and his friends drink SO MUCH that our bins fill up within a day and because recycling is only collected every fortnight, we just can’t keep up. Bottles and cans fester for weeks. By the time the bins are emptied, and we go to fill it up with all the backlog, it’s full again. It’s DISGUSTING. There are boxes, papers, bottles, all sortsof recycling materials piled up in front of our house because our bin is full. There’s no end in sight. He would literally have to quit drinking for a month or two.

    He’s becoming insanely nosy, whiney and bossy. That, and he never does anything he says he will (mow the lawn – he now has a lawnmower; fix our windows that don’t shut properly, change blown lights).

    He still hasn’t got our water meter checked out. I gave him printouts from the council site showing what to do and the form for refunds of leaks. I’m sure we have a leak – I’ve done overnight checks two or three times and everytime there has been movement while we sleep. He maintains that our bills are in line with our household. I don’t think he gets how little we use – one of our flatmates is never here, we don’t have a washing machine, and (slightly gross) not everyone has a shower every single day.

    The other day, apparently he came around in a grump, told one of our friends to shut up (he was telling a story about someone who cut him off on the road), and then last week came around complaining about guests “talking in high pitched voices”. WTF? Seriously. We don’t have parties. We’re fairly quiet I’d say for a bunch of 20yearolds. Whatever happened to privacy? I get that it’s his house. But we don’t pay to have a parental figure yell at us for stupid things like that. We’re paying his mortgage.

    It wasn’t so bad, because all of last year he was rarely here. (Thankfully. Our dodgy agent didn’t even inform us that he lived in the back flat.) Now he’s here fulltime, WITH his mother and sister who are moving here and haven’t found a place yet. He promised they wouldn’t be here long; it’s a temporary thing. Yeah. We’ll see. Ever since, it’s been unbearable, his – and their – constant presence. There’s NEVER any hot water – at its hottest, it’s comfortably, mildly warm – not scalding as it should be. They’ve taken over the backyard – we have a full section which is really why our rent is so high. But now we can’t enjoy it because they’ve taken it over, dumping their junk everywhere, plus their flat opens out onto it and we would feel strange about hanging out there. And this week, a cage of DUCKS appeared out back. Poor things scurry around in a pack, huddled in the safety of the herd. He reckons he’s going to sell the creatures.

    Our house needs a ton of work. He’s been laid off as far as I know. Hence always being around, not having had the windows fixed, etc. BF says he told him “I thought once I had a house, I had it made, and I’d be set for life.” Nuh uh. He wants to landscape around the place, tidy it up, and ‘get a loan’ for it. I assume he means borrowing against his equity (which surely can’t be much? He bought start of last year before the huge crash).

    Sigh. Okay, end rant.