Life, Politics, Society

A Winter Story of Snow and a Bad Landlord.

Last Christmas, we cooked our Christmas dinner in one of those bed sit ovens and a camping stove, balanced on top of the huge attractive gas range oven that sat, uselessly, in our kitchen.  The snow was a foot deep outside, and I slept downstairs on the bed settee – the kids had a downstairs bedroom, but the inefficient heating didn’t reach the attic conversion where I and my husband slept, and our baby still needed breastfeeds in the night, so I slept downstairs.  Our gas bill was £120 a month, despite us being as careful as we could and shopping around – the heating was that inefficient.

Winter 2010 snow on top of a birdhouse

This was in our back garden. I wonder if the birds got evicted?

The gas fire had been condemned and disconnected (as, indeed, had the range oven) but at least the central heating kept the downstairs at an acceptable temperature.  The heating had been disconnected once, after a carbon dioxide alarm went off, but we were lucky that we could send the children to my inlaws for that night – our then three year old has asthma and our youngest was only just past one, so the emergency electric heater provided by the emergency gas man didn’t fill me with confidence.

We couldn’t do anything about these issues as we privately rented – our landlord wouldn’t pay for the improvements or give us permission to do so ourselves, and the law only made them provide us with some heating, which we had.  If we withheld any of our £525 a month rent, we faced the prospect of eviction, and moving would mean we would have to find letting agent fees, moving costs and a new deposit – the new landlord would need a deposit before we moved in, and the old landlord would only pay back the one from the old house once we had moved out.  We had also applied for schools in the area, got to know the neighbours and had my husband’s parents round the corner – this was by no means the first awful landlord we had suffered, so we didn’t want to give up the positive aspects of out home to risk an even worse landlord.

As it turned out, that summer the landlord gave us two months notice to leave – he wanted his daughter to live in the house.  So, over two months, we had to find the £1000 we needed to move, whilst still paying the rent, on one wage.  All for a whim of the landlord.

A month after we had the eviction letter, a gas fitter turned up to do the repairs.


About Alicia J Duffy

All purpose northern lefty guardian reading feminist single mum.


4 thoughts on “A Winter Story of Snow and a Bad Landlord.

  1. Just read that back, and it sounds dickensian. I swear it is all true, in fact I left out some of the details in case it sounded too ridiculous.

    Posted by Alicia J Duffy | January 2, 2012, 11:20 am
  2. The private rental sector is an utter nightmare and I can easily believe you had such a terrible experience. As you point out, tenants have so few rights and of course, if you make too much fuss and the landlord gives you 2 month’s notice, you have to come up with god knows how much money to pay a deposit and a month’s rent in advance in advance. And if you don’t have a standard job or can’t get references you are really stuck. And don’t get me started on rental agencies who charge an annual fee of a couple of hundred quid just to renew the tenancy agreement – which basically involves a bit of photocopying and a signature…

    Posted by veryberryhandmade | January 2, 2012, 12:20 pm
  3. Awful 😦 and I have heard of similar stories. I lived in rental accommodation which had such awful damp we regularly had slugs coming in the house. Did the landlady care? Did she f***.
    Trouble is the regulations governing rental agreements seems to be weighted heavily in favour of bad landlords and bad tenants, in that it is so easy to ignore them, and the onus is on the one in the right to prove that agreements have been breached, this being very difficult to prove. It is only gets worse as home ownership becomes more difficult and more people are forced to rent from the private sector.

    Posted by madreleche | January 3, 2012, 9:09 pm
  4. Reblogged this on aliciajduffy.

    Posted by Alicia J Duffy | May 30, 2015, 9:46 pm

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