Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Being Nice to your Landlord (And Playing Detective)

When we viewed this flat 8 months ago, there was one small obvious flaw. And that flaw was on our living room wall.

A huge damp patch creeping down from the ceiling. I was told by the agent that it had happened just recently and that the problem had just been fixed (there was scaffolding outside the house so I believed her). In a couple of months, the wall would dry out and it would be re-painted and that would be that.

Perfect. I thought.

2 months later we had the wall painted. A few weeks after that, the mark came through again. This, I was told, was because the cause of the problem hadn’t gone away and no matter how much we painted it, that mark would come back.
I decided to do some investigating and in the summer, I popped round to the flats next door to see if they had a problem, too. Both the flats next to mine (on the same level and below) had damp problems on that wall and it all started to appear once a fire escape had been installed a year ago. I went out onto the fire escape and took some pictures of the mould on the wall.

The source had been rotten leaves that had been removed the week before by our neighbour’s landlord in a desperate bid to fix his own walls.

But this was good news. Their landlord obviously cared enough to get the problem fixed so I took his number and sent an email of my findings.

Hi Pauline,

I’ve been speaking to people in the flats next door to see if they’ve been affected by the damp on the wall. I’ve had the same story from both of them – that it started about a year ago and has something to do with the fire escape.

Apparently their landlord removed a lot of gunk from the fire escape and drains last week but isn’t sure if that is what has caused the problem. The couple in Flat K (ground floor and directly next to ours) are moving out in 2 weeks so I imagine he’ll want to try and fix the problem before getting new tenants in.

I’ve attached pictures of our wall, the wall directly next to ours in Flat K, next door, and the outside adjoining wall of both properties (13 pictures in total).

I got the mobile number of their landlord, Steve, 07*********, in case you think it’s a good idea to talk to him about it and possibly work together in fixing the problem?

I’ll give you a call to talk to you about it in more detail, but thought it was worth giving you as much information as possible.

Best regards,

A nice email, I think. One that isn’t demanding or accusing and tries to be the nicest as possible when asking for work that will come at an expense to the recipient.

Contractors were soon sent out to take a closer look at the problem and I was told the best thing to do would be to re-plaster the entire wall. First they’d paint over it once more to prove that there is no other option and get to work on the wall in the New Year.

Today, the painter is here – giving me a bright new wall just in time for guests to arrive in December. I’ve been patient and polite and now my flat is becoming perfect.

If you have any problems with your rented property, be as nice as you can and you’re more likely to get help. Also – make sure you’re only making valid requests for work and can back up your reason to have it done. But it has worked with me and I am very happy. Bring on the wall!

1 comment:

  1. We had a similar experience last year with damp in our bathroom and our landlady got some people in to fix it really quickly for us. You're so right about asking politely and being helpful; most landlords would much rather you told them as soon as something becomes a problem rather than letting it get worse in my experience.


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