Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Lesson From My Former Landlady: Part 2

I know what you're all thinking after yesterday's post. Maybe I was just a genuinely awful tenant and this poor innocent landlady was understandably desperate to get rid of me. Maybe that £65 just barely covered the emotional trauma of having to live with me. Maybe my mere presence in a house creates the kind of dark cloud of horror and despair that nothing but years of intensive therapy can lift.

Well, I admit I wasn't perfect. Due to all my dance classes, I had a very unpredictable pattern of kitchen useage, and I did once manage to lock my boyfriend in the house and trap him there, because I am apparently incapable of understanding how keys work. I wasn't allowed to hoover my room in case it scratched the floor, so I only swept the floor occassionally. Sometimes I would move bags that were left in the middle of the hallway, so that I could get by. I admittedly never cleaned the windows. And I did once keep a friendship cake on the sideboard in the kitchen for almost two weeks - although I feel that offence should be mitigated by the fact that I gave June and her kids several of the resultant cupcakes.

On the other hand, here is a small taster of what it was like living with June:

1. She once went on holiday without warning me at all in advance; I just arrived home to find an email saying she wouldn't be back for a week. This would not have been a problem, except she turned off the heating before leaving and I had no idea how to turn it on, so it was freezing, and she locked away the wireless internet box in a room with no key, meaning that whenever I had problems getting internet access, which happened every now and again, I was unable to reset the wireless and had to just wait until it fixed itself, which could be hours. Oh, and she also left her kid's hamster in the house with no-one to look after it but me. I emailed her back about the above issues and she completely ignored it, even when I texted her as well; I didn't call because I didn't know what country she was in.
Fortunately, after four days, just at the point when the hamster's food was starting to run low and I was starting to think I would have to find something for it to eat, her ex husband rocked up at half nine at night to pick it up, with no warning.
2. The whole house was permanently a huge mess (except for my room in the roof… my room was lovely, that's the only reason I put up with it), particularly the kitchen, where plates of congealed food could lie in state for days. At one point, some mouldy bananas were left hanging up in the kitchen for two weeks. That's two weeks after they'd already gone mouldy.

3. When I moved into my room, one of the curtain fittings was broken and falling off the wall. Despite raising it more than once, it was never fixed. Nor was the door to my kitchen cupboard fixed in the months after one of its hinges detached. Apparently June - a fully grown woman with children of her own - was waiting for her elderly parents to come and fix them.
She also got her parents to come and stay at the house for a week while she went on holiday, so that they could do her gardening. They came and worked in the garden and swept her paths and fixed her fence, and they didn't even see her or their grandchildren. This didn't affect me in any way, I just thought it was a pretty crappy thing for her to do.

4. There was a mysterious and horrible smell coming from the downstairs drains for a couple of months after I moved in. After talking to her about it several times, she finally booked a plumber, without mentioning this to me until two days beforehand. She managed to book him on my day off, when I had been planning a lie in and general lazy day, and informed me that I would need to vacate my room that morning by eight o'clock - earlier than I would usually leave for work. I said that I had booked leave and had been planning a lie in and would have appreciated it if she had checked with me that it would be ok. Her response? "Oh well, it's too late, he's booked now".

5. She kept her Christmas tree up and fully decorated until at least the end of March, when I left. Not really a problem as such, just Very Weird.

I could go on, but I'm bored now. In any case, that's got to be enough for you to see that she wasn't the easiest person to live with. However, I have become a much more patient person in the last few years (except when I'm walking behind slow people. OUT OF MY WAY, SLUGGARDS!)* and I do at least try to think the best of people. Despite all the above, I liked my room, I thought I got on fine with June, I kept myself out of the way and I always made sure I tidied up after myself. Even though my mum and boyfriend** clearly (and accurately) marked her out as a Bit Of A Weirdo after meeting her just once or twice, I really did make the effort. So for her to effectively turn on me for the sake of a measly £65 felt pretty horrible, given the amount of effort and patience I had put into maintaining a good relationship with her.

Even after she had her big shouting fit at me and docked her pound of flesh from my deposit, I was naive enough to assume that would be that. I had previously provided her with my new address so she could forward any post; I was pretty organised with getting my address updated with various organisations that write to me, but I've had problems in the past where I've called the hospital and given them a new address, only for them to fail to change their records and continue sending stuff to my old address, so I wanted to be safe. I assumed everything was fine.

This week, I suddenly realised I had failed to provide the professional body that I'm a member of with my new address. They don't usually send me much, but I emailed them anyway. I was impressed when, two days later, they sent me a magazine to my new address. Until I looked at it and realised that it had previously been sent to my old address at June's house. Instead of forwarding it to the address I had supplied her with, she had marked it "Not known at this address, return to sender." Obviously the professional body had received it back and been waiting to get my new address so they could re-send it.

But what a horribly petty, vindictive thing for June to do. She knows my new address perfectly well; writing it on the envelope before sticking it back in the mail would take no more effort than writing "return to sender" before sticking it back in the mail. Fortunately she's chosen to do that with a magazine that's not important. But what if it had been medical information sent to me by the hospital? It's not going to come in an envelope marked "important medical info for Emer, please don't dick around with this".

I had decided to put my previous encounter with June to the back of my mind, but this upset me all over again - because now I'm worried that the hospital could have sent me a letter which I haven't received thanks to her childish behaviour. I have no idea why she would choose to behave towards me in this way. Presumably it hasn't even occurred to her that messing around with someone's mail could have serious consequences - or else it has occurred to her, and she really doesn't care. Maybe that was the only bit of mail that she's done this with, and she just wanted to make some kind of point - but I can't know that for sure.

I'm hoping that, as I spoke to my endocrinologist yesterday, he would have seen any problems with my address on the hospital system and mentioned it, and I will call and check that they have the correct address for me now. But I don't know what to do about June. Part of me really doesn't want to let this go; I think she should be made aware of how serious her actions could be. But equally, I have no desire to have any contact with her ever again. I'm worried if I email or write to her, I might just make things worse - but I do think that telling her about my illness might give her a bit of a wake-up call regarding her behaviour.

Any suggestions?

* Is sluggard actually a word? It should be. Answers on a postcard, please.

** Some of the few people to have met her - for the most part I didn't invite people to the house because I was embarassed that the kitchen etc. was so horrible


  1. You know that you can get your mail re-directed by the post office, right? You tend to get your post in batches, and the odd letter slips through the net, but it buys you a month or so to get your act together and tell everyone you've moved.

    By the way, I'd have happily paid £65 to get away from this woman, no matter how nice my room was.

  2. The Post office redirection is pretty good actually, we use it at the shop having moved in January. It's also a good wake-up call for people who don't know your new address yet, because their letters come in a big red bag with REDIRECTION written on it. At least they do if you're a shop.

    This. All of this is why I really want my own place. So much faff. But I would recommend giving this woman a call, or writing her a stern letter (more memorable?) telling her about your hospital stuff. Then at least it's really in her court if something does go missing.