Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Hammered


Eighteenth century German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, writer and composer Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche once said, “There are people who, instead of solving a problem, tangle it up and make it harder to solve for anyone who wants to deal with it” and much to my dismay this is precisely the position I find myself in now.

When, in November 2008, HBOS acquired a court order to repossess our family home, I contacted the landlord of a property which I knew had been reduced to a cold, leaky, rat invested shadow of its former glorious self. Too onerous a task for even the most robust of tenants to consider anything other than fleetingly, it had stood empty for the majority of the time that it had been available to let. However, where some saw a crumbling country pile which offered only ice cold winters, damp rooms and a fair few furry friends as housemates, I saw a five hundred year old home which was long overdue some TLC along with a landlord who might actually consider us, despite our financial circumstances.

After some tense moments of negotiation with regard to both our adverse credit history and the level of rent we could afford, the deal was done and in January 2009 we moved into a dilapidated manor house with Tudor origins. Over the past four years and nine months we have endured constant leaks, inadequate heating and all manner of wildlife infestations, but, with the help of our family and friends, we have battled with the elements to turn a once neglected house into a home and, until recently, believed all concerned were delighted with both the transformation, the financial arrangement and the way in which we have kept on top of the minor repairs.

However, following a meeting with a company advocating sustainable heating systems supported by the government’s renewable heat incentive, the attitude towards us has most definitely changed.  

After months of surveys and sales pitches, my seventy five year old landlord is now convinced we are grossly underpaying. Furthermore, he is adamant the installation of a bio-mass boiler (at a cost of somewhere in excess of £130,000) will not only service our family's heating requirements along with those of the four small commercial units he rents out in the adjacent barns, but it will also provide him with a generous return. Based on calculations produced by the salesman who remains blissfully unaware/disinterested in the ongoing structural problems of the property or the letting difficulties of the past, he has advised our landlord that the property will command a further £500 a month more in rent, inclusive of central heating fuel once the new heating system is operational.

What my landlord, his solicitor and the heating agent have failed to appreciate when formulating their calculations is;

·         A smattering of ancient radiators, many of which are broken and all of which are fed by small gauge pipes, will not be sufficient to provide adequate heating in a house of this size, however efficient the boiler

In order to stay warm I will still need to spend a further £240 to heat the water and fuel the fires on top of the inclusive rent

·        While my husband has enjoyed a cumulative wage increase of 7% over the past four years (amounting to approximately £90 a month in total) this has only served to reduce our reliance on tax credit and has not increased our household income

·         I am already in possession of £1066 pounds worth of Calor gas fuel for the winter (for which I am unable to obtain a refund) which I am still paying £154.00 per month

·         The ongoing economic crisis has not improved the chances of acquiring tenants for very large, expensive to run shabby old houses which are not water tight

And,

·         Demolishing listed outbuildings and listed walled gardens without the necessary consents usually ends in tears.

So, while I now await the outcome of irate neighbors incensed by the unapproved decimation of my historic rented home, a formal rent review via an agent which will inevitably result in my being served notice to quit and the information I have been waiting for from HBOS since February, I cannot help but be astounded to discover that despite my letter of the 1 August 2013, the Financial Ombudsman Service’s adjudicator has been unable to press HBOS to provide me with the documentation I have repeatedly requested of them via my Data Subject Access Request because he has, until yesterday...

Misplaced my correspondence!

The imminent Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche also said, “Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be asked not to hit it at all” and as a result of the summers endless shenanigans, I am fast coming to the conclusion there are many who should have laid their hammers to rest some time ago.

3 comments:

  1. This seems grossly unfair! A £500 increase per month is pretty harsh at the best of times (and totally unrealistic surely) but the fact that you have transformed this home counts for nothing? I have a friend who redecorated her rental home because it was in pretty poor way. The landlord was so grateful they gave her a discount on her rent as a thank you!

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  2. II would be interested to know whether the improvements you have put in have been 'registered' and form part of the lease agreement as there are possibilities that they can be set off against your rent (in part).

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  3. The improvements we have made include a fitted kitchen, new light fittings and curtains throughout,extensive redecorating as a consequence of the numerous leaks before the landlord did a partial roof repair and an abundance of planting in the garden together with some hard landscaping. Not sure what you mean by registered but the landlords have certainly verbally acknowledged what we have done and expressed their pleasure. However,I still think all roads lead to two months notice to quit if we can't cough up the additional rent as our landlord lost the plot this week(see http://lifeafterdebts.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/friggatriskaidekaphobia.html) when he was faced with paying £60 to restart the ancient boiler as the new boiler is not operational yet.This was something he agreed to and then changed his mind about when the engineer was already here.
    Thanks for taking an interest Ashley. I welcome your input.

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