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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Landlords:two:Oz

Moving to Australia has meant a return to dealing with landlords, and to be fair, our first experience was fairly easy. All we had to do was deal with a nutty Californian lady who could talk about anything until coherence and subtlety were distant memories. Pretty easy really, especially as she was quite happy to join you for the odd glass of vino whilst she did so. Our current landlord is a different matter entirely.

Whilst trying to rent the place from him we turned up to look at the flat at the time allotted. The estate agent rings on the intercom. No answer. The estate agent tries again:
Landlord: “Er, I’m sorry I got a bit drunk last night and I’ve got a child here at the moment. It’s just not convenient, can we do it later?”
We exchange axious looks of the 'Bloody hell, that’s bit more than dodgy' type. Estate agent looks suitably sheepish but keeps his cool admirably. We are assured that Landlord is not actually a pederast but slightly ditsy and has forgotten to mention that the child’s parent is also there, he hopes.

We struggled through contract negotiations with Landlord during which he tries to bypass the estate agents and manage the property himself. Having learnt that Landlord is a bit useless. We are having none of it and refuse to talk to him until he goes through the agent. After we had managed to sign a contract, about 3 months after we first saw the flat, we are provided with one key. The keys to the building are restricted security keys and can’t be copied at just any corner store. They also include a smartcard that gets you through the front door and up in the lift. We have exactly zero hope of getting these copied. There are 2 of us, there are two names on the contract, we work to different schedules in different companies in different places and do different things outside of work. It is profoundly difficult for us to organise our lives round one key. We call Landlord and ask for another key:
Landlord: “Oh, oh yeah. Of course you’ll need that won’t you?” Yes. Yes, we will. "I’ll bring it over on Thursday."
I leave work early on Thursday to get home in time for Landlord to bring the key over. Landlord fails to arrive. I rearrange for him to bring the key over at the weekend. Landlord fails to arrive. On Monday I call Landlord and then the estate agent:

dataphage: "Landlord has failed to provide us with a key, which means we can’t access our post to sign the inventory you’ve sent us. I have suggested to him quite strongly that he drop the key off at your branch office in our building. Perhaps you could ensure that he does given that he has failed to do so twice this week."
Estate agent: heavy sigh "I’ll talk to him."

I get a flustered call from Landlord assuring me that the key will be left at the office 10am Tuesday morning as arranged. A strange feeling of unease comes over me on Tuesday morning. This grows until I can no longer restrain myself from calling the branch office.
dataphage:"Hello, has our landlord left a key for us?"
Branch office: "No, there’s no key been left here." A note of curious laughter enters Branch office's voice "Who’s your landlord?"
I give Landlord’s name.
Branch office: Unhelpful snigger
They have clearly dealt with him before and no longer have to. I call the estate agent's main office and explain the situation:
dataphage: "If I am to be able to collect the key I must leave work in next 15 mins and it is not where it is supposed to be."
Estate agent: heavy sigh "I’ll talk to him. Don’t leave work until you hear from me."
Three quarters of an hour later I get a call from estate agent: "We now have the key. Oh, and by the way we close in one hour." I am at least a 40 minute bus ride from their office and I’ve just missed the last bus that would get me there in time. A scream of rage escapes my lips and my colleagues give me a look of the kind normally reserved for axe weilding loonies. I charge out of the building pausing only for a brief tirade against the slowness of the lift. I flag down a bus and find that I won't actually have to threaten the driver as it is going in roughly the right direction. To my chagrin it is doing so at the speed of an off-peak city bus in heavy traffic. Eventually I get to roughly where I'm going and have to run for 20 minutes to make it to the estate agent's office in time. Landlord's name is mud, although I find many varied themes on mud most of them far less polite.

Imagine my joy then when the washing machine and the steel shutters on the front of our balcony break. I call the esatate agent who calls Landlord. Landlord's first reaction is to call me.
Landlord: "The washing machine is still under warranty from the shop I bought it from."
dataphage: "...and..."
Landlord: "Well, why don't you go there and get them to come over and fix it?"
dataphage: "Which shop is this?"
Landlord: "Oh you know, the second hand appliances shop on, er, what's the name of that road now.... You go up Maroubra road, take a left at the roundabout, then take a right, and then a left I think, er... and it's opposite the supermarket in that little row of shops hidden away a bit, you might not be able to see it from the road. I'm afraid I can't remember the name of the place."
dataphage: "Do you have any paperwork for the warranty?"
Landlord: "Er, no."
dataphage: "A reference number?"
Landlord: "Er, no."
dataphage: "A contact I can speak to?"
Landlord: "Er, no."
dataphage: "A phone number?"
Landlord: "Er, no."
dataphage: "Right so let me be completely clear about this. You would like me to go hunting around a part of town I don't know, for a shop that I don't have the name of, in a place it might not be, to ask someone whose name I don't have to fix my washing machine for free with supporting with paperwork I don't have?"
Landlord: "I'd better go down there and sort it out."
dataphage: "And the shutters?"
Landlord: "You'll need to speak to the Building Manager. His name is Mark."
dataphage: "Mark what?"
Landlord: "Er..."
dataphage: "Do you have a phone number?"
Landlord: "Er, no."
dataphage: "Do you know where I can find him?"
Landlord: "He's sometimes at the office downstairs at about 8:30. Sometimes."
dataphage: "I leave for work at 7:45"
Landlord: "Oh."
I have to put up with this dipstick for at least the next 11 months.