Disclaimer: This is going to be a very long rant. Writing is like therapy and all that. Be warned and proceed at your own risk.
We (or more specifically, N.) rent our apartment from N.’s employer. As an employee perk, rent is cheaper than what neighboring (identical) apartments are rented out for, about £200-250 more than what we pay.
When N. first moved into the apartment we were not in a relationship yet, but I remember several conversations about whether it would be a good idea to rent from his employer. I never thought it was a good idea, but it was too good a deal to say no.
I moved into the apartment in March, and immediately noticed that on the wall separating the bath and the 2nd bedroom, there was a big, wet patch. The day after I moved in, we told one of N.’s coworkers who has done work on the apartment before. He said something like that it was condensation from having had furniture stood there. Now, I don’t know much about plumbing, but I knew that was bs. At the same time, what else could we do other than notify them of what in our opinion was a leak from the bath. I figured at some point it would become big enough a problem that they would take it seriously.
Last month, one evening, our downstairs neighbor told N. that he now had a big wet patch on his wall, and that it appeared to come from our bath. (No, I wasn’t surprised.)
N. mentioned it to his boss, J., and he said he’d have it sorted. N. said to me, “don’t expect too much, I know him, they’ll just do a botch job to fix it.” That is why we were all the more surprised when J. and his wife T., the company’s secretary, came by one evening, had a look at the bath (and the wood under the bath, which was moldy and rotting), and suggested putting in a whole new bathroom.
A few days later, N. texted me while we were at work, saying that T. and a plumber would be looking at our bathroom that same afternoon to get measurements for giving a quote. I asked whether he would be coming along too, as we had just had a conversation a few days earlier that I did not want anyone doing work in our apartment when neither of us was present. He told me that he couldn’t get away from the office. Keep in mind, his company is our landlord. I said that if they want to go in that afternoon, he will have to come along. Otherwise, they will have to re-schedule. I was really pissed off that they gave us no notice whatsoever, and that they expected to be able to go into our apartment with neither of us there. Sure, N. knows them really well, but I barely know them. What I did know was that they refused to add me to the lease as a tenant, which did not make them appear particularly trustworthy to me (that is a whole other story).
In the end, N. did get to come along and they did what they had to do. Fast forward another week. The quote came in and a new bathroom would cost £2,500. If you ask me, that is not really that much money for a completely new bathroom. But J. decided that it was too expensive and that we would not be getting a new bathroom after all.
A few days later, he also told N. that it had annoyed them that I had not simply agreed to letting them into our apartment when neither of us was there, and that it had offended his wife T. He added that they probably would have put in a new bathroom if that hadn’t happened. N. said, though, that he knows J. and for him it is all about the money. As you can imagine, I was pretty pissed off that they used this as an excuse, and felt that it was the right thing not to trust them, because if they are offended by the fact that I do not want two total strangers (I had met T. once or twice before for a minute or two) in my apartment, they really do not deserve my trust.
N. even suggested a temporary rent increase to cover part of the cost for a new bathroom – something that didn’t really sit well with me – why pay our landlord more rent for not doing his job properly, for something that is his responsibility anyway? But J. completely ignored this suggestion.
Fast forward to a week ago. Friday night just as our holidays (week off) were supposed to begin. We were in the middle of dinner when our downstairs neighbor (who is in his 80s) called N. and desperately begged him to come downstairs. Turns out his bathroom ceiling had caved in.
Yes, our neighbor had been over to reseal around the bathtub and when he didn’t do a proper job (which he accused N. of manipulating), two others from the company came over to do a better job. Unfortunately that had still not done the job, and there was still a leak. So, Friday night, the bathroom ceiling downstairs came down.
N. went downstairs to help our neighbor clean up the debris, and our neighbor called his landlord, the council, to report the issue. Within minutes the council’s plumber was there, and that same evening, workers came to knock down the rest of the ceiling. They had it fixed the next day. N. had also called our landlord, and he said he would have someone over the next day to fix it. When N. told him the next day that our neighbor had notified the council (his landlord), J. accused N. of calling the council. Absolutely outrageous. Keep in mind, this is N.’s boss and they work together very closely. It was absolutely insulting to have him accuse N. of lying, and I imagine it will not improve their working relationship (which had been excellent so far). Now, I don’t get what’s so unusual about our neighbor calling the council, his landlord. After all, we also told our landlord when we noticed the leak, didn’t we? And quite frankly, if it had been me living downstairs, I would have called the council weeks ago instead of relying on someone else’s landlord to fix (or weasel out of fixing) the problem. Sure, J.’s company will be billed for this, but rightfully so!
J. was also pissed off that we had let the plumber from the council in to have a look at the problem in our bathroom. According to him we had no right to let him in as he owns the place. What? It’s the tenant, not the landlord, who gets to decide who enters an apartment. What planet does he live on?
That Saturday, J. came by again to fix the leak, and I reckon he did fix one leak but there was still a(nother) leak. So Monday, weeks after we first reported the problem, J. came over with a plumber to finally do a proper job of fixing the leak. It was about the 4th or 5th time someone had been over to “fix” the problem but the first time that a professional plumber had a look at it. I can only shake my head at this unprofessionalism and stupidity on behalf of our landlord – I mean, waiting isn’t going to make fixing this any cheaper.
So that was the leak fixed. Next problem. Our shower screen was leaking. N. received a call from our landlord on his phone one afternoon last week, but was unable to answer. 15 minutes later, the doorbell rings. N. answered the door, and asked J. how come he didn’t give us a decent amount of notice (no, 15 minutes is not really acceptable, is it?). J. (and this is the kicker!) told him that he thought we weren’t in! N. asked why he came by then. J. replied that they (he and the plumber) just wanted to take some measurements. Ummm, what? So he was going to go into our apartment without our permission? A few minutes later, T. (J.’s wife) just saunters into our apartment, no ringing the doorbell or knocking. She looked surprised when she saw N. Clearly she had thought we wouldn’t be there. N. gave her a look amounting to “what the fuck are you doing here,” and he told me she looked shocked (rightly so!) and left after a few minutes.
So yeah, if I didn’t feel completely justified in not wanting them in the apartment without one of us present, I did now. It is clear that they have no respect for our privacy, our right to privacy in the apartment we pay rent for. They seem oblivious to the fact that they may own the place but we rent it and therefore it is OURS for as long as we rent it. We get to decide who goes into our apartment, and they need our permission unless it is an actual emergency.
Neither J. nor T. have been back to the apartment since. The plumber came by again on Friday to replace the shower screen. He took down the old one and then realized that the wall was too wet to install the new one. The same plumber also told N. that the shower screen is not actually going to fix the problem, that we needed a new bathroom, but our landlord isn’t having the work done. He said that by Monday (today!) the wall would probably be dry enough. So for the past few days we have been taking showers crouching in the bath (fun, especially with a sore back). This afternoon, the plumber (who seems to be a really decent guy by the way!) came by and installed the new shower screen which means we can have normal showers again starting tomorrow morning. Woohoo!
During our week off, we had someone in our apartment because of the bathroom on five out of 8 days, and it seems the work is nowhere near done. The wood under the bathtub is still moldy, spongy and rotting and has little flies in them. We still have water damage on the wall between the bathroom and the second bedroom. The wardrobe (which came with the apartment) that is stood against that wall has also started getting moldy since we put it there in March.
Basically, it feels like this is going to go on and on and on. Meanwhile we have found out that our landlord is a truly nasty person who would not hesitate to go into our apartment without our permission. The lease agreement does not allow us to change the locks but I would be seriously tempted to ignore that paragraph (after all, it also doesn’t allow our landlord to enter our apartment without our permission). We are also considering getting a security camera so we would know (and have proof) if he ever tries to go into our apartment again. It would probably be a good idea anyway, as our neighborhood (some of the people on our street) seem a bit, well, dodgy.
At this point, I do not even care anymore whether we get a new bathroom. I just want the leak and water damage on the bedroom wall fixed and for them to leave us alone. Yes, we don’t pay much rent but it’s supposed to be an employee perk, not a discount for having a moldy/leaky bathroom and an excuse for our landlord not to keep the apartment in good repair.
Needless to say, our landlord will never be getting a Christmas card from us, he is permanently on my shit list, and we will never rent another property from them again. If N. didn’t love his job so much, I’d be happy if he found a new job so we could cut our ties with these people entirely.
The problem is that we don’t really have a lot of options here. N. works for the company that owns our apartment. He loves his job. Normally we would never put up with so much shit from our landlord but in this case we feel like we have to tread carefully so it won’t have a negative impact on N.’s job. Either we put up with it or we move.
The reason we are planning to stay in this apartment for now? Because it’s so much cheaper than anywhere else would be. We hope we will be able to afford buying a house in two years or so, and this place allows us to save money at a much faster rate than another apartment would. So in any case, this is going to be a temporary home, and we will just put up with it for now knowing that we will be able to buy our own home sooner this way.