Saturday, 22 February 2014

The House That Dust Built

Most people will tell you that renting is hard. It's part of the reason that so many strive for the goal of owning their own little piece of real estate.

I like renting. I like that if I want to get a job in Canada and move across the world in a week, I can, because there is no great big pile of bricks in a declining market holding me back. And mostly because if the air conditioner or the hot water service dies I just ring up and make it someone else's problem. I like a good handball, especially when it's an expensive handball.

We just moved, from our lovely house on the hill to another, much older, house nearer the main street and very definitely at the bottom of the hill. As evidenced by the pile of damp things in our shed after last Friday's Southern Monsoon. WonderMan needs to build us some besser block shelves before winter I think.

Yes, it's an old tudor style house. Yes the yard is overgrown and hasn't been watered since the pyramids were built. But it has a yard, which was the only thing holding us back from staying in our lovely hill top house forever. There's only so much concrete and paving I can stand.

I think the house is adorable and it looks like a home, sash windows and all. I'm not really in to all this smooth walled open plan modern stuff anyway.

But unfortunately I have to rent it through the most USELESS real estate agent in the district, because they command 85% of the property market. 

I spent FOUR HOURS doing the ingoing inspection report that looks like it was photocopied from the one done in 1985. I provided SIXTEEN pages of my own photos showing all the bits that had magically been "missed" in the agent's photos. And may have made a sarky comment about who I should address my bill to under my breath when I handed it in.

This house is all kinds of dirty. And I don't even mean it's been empty for a while and there's some dust. I mean food splatters on the underside of the shelves dirty. And on the top of the shelves. And pretty much everywhere. I mean crap that looks like it's been there since the house was built filling the cupboards that I am paying to put MY stuff in. Mould in the bathroom tiles. YUCK YUCKITY YUCK.

Yesterday I vacuumed my hallway and my loungeroom, and before I had even finished my ultra expensive vacuum cleaner was making a horrible noise. So I had a good look underneath and pulled out the mother of all dust bunnies jammed up amidst a metric tonne of dirt. This from carpets that were "professionally cleaned". Someone is pocketing some nice cash and laughing like hell.  

The day we moved in we discovered the blinds that were supposed to go up in the back bedroom were still on the floor, drenched in cat wee. So that made my day. When I rang the agent her word's were "Oh there's never been a cat in the house." Well I don't know which planet your house is on lady but there has most definitely been a cat in here. It's pulled all the carpet where someone's been feeding it under the dining room table. The same section of carpet you managed to miss in your photos.

So we got that cleared up and then discovered that when it rained that same room got very wet. I'm pretty sure rain is meant to stay on the outside of the house, yes? One quick look and a blind fool could see that this had been happening for years and it got painted over every now and then so no one would notice. Well I noticed... and work starts in a week. 

Today I am soaking the mother of all disgusting range hood covers that were labelled Good/Clean on my inspection report. Yeah, you can always smell grease from your front door, that's totally normal I'm sure. 

There is not enough in place to protect tenants from unscrupulous agents.

And yes, I know there are bad tenants, but that's what landlord's insurance is for. At least there is some protection in place if you happen to own the home. 

Why can't we, as tenants, ask how many notices have been served on an agent? How many times they've been summonsed to a tribunal? Why can't we call bullshit on their laziness and scamming? This one person controls the one important aspect of our lives it would be very hard to do without - the home we live in. And if we call them out they can make life very difficult indeed.

At least I can take one good thing away from our move, and it's that we are doing the right thing. We got a five star rating from the previous agents which made me feel a whole lot better after the disappointing welcome to our new place. 

I'm off to call my carpet cleaner, so he can do the job that should have been done in the first place. And then I will get my butt out of my office (my own office!) so I can turn it into a spare room and put some Freddo Frogs on the pillows for my parents who arrive Monday.

And then I might set up a dust sculpture exhibition using only what I sweep off my outside walls. 


  1. If your in QLD you can try the Residential Tenancies Authority ( ) even if you aren't give them a email or call & see if there is something similar set up in your state.

    I personally prefer when renting to deal straight with the land lord as I find real estate agents most of them though not all of them do not care what the place looks like only that they get their commission

    (((( Hugs ))))

    1. We are in SA, and I've got all the information on the processes for disputes etc. It's so drawn out though! I think doing the inspection report properly has made her realise I am not an idiot, and I am not going to be taken for a ride. I just think there should be more open reporting on rental agents and their track record so tenants go into a tenancy prepared. I also think the process itself is off putting for tenants who would rather lose a few hundred dollars than try to fight, which is why some agents continue to do tenants over.


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