Thursday, 27 August 2009

Basterd Marcus - a London flat odyssey

As today I've not yet moved into my flat although I've been paying the rent for almost three weeks.


When I checked in, on the 11th of August, the flat was in disgusting conditions. It had not been cleaned at all and stuff of the previous tenant was still inside.


Luckily enough we had insisted that a list of works to be done had to be put in writing in the contract. None of the works had been done, although contractually the landlord had a few more days to comply with his duty.


But not the cleaning. The cleaning had to be done before I moved in and they had had an extra week to do it properly.


After a first immediate solicitation nothing happened. At some point somebody went in and vacuum cleaned the carpet in one of the rooms: ridiculous!


I felt like they were making fun of me. I escalated the problem to my relocation company and to Google HR which had helped me getting the contract. I just wanted to break the lease and live the landlord to the next victim.


Unfortunately there is not much to do once you have signed a standard "assured shorthold tenancy agreement": the contract is totally biased towards the landlord. Unless the flat is "uninhabitable" (which means practically that it has to be falling apart, without electricity and hot water) the lease is still valid, no matter what other clauses are in the contract. On the contrary, the tenant, if he does not pay the rent (as I intended to do since I could not move in) or does anything which goes against the landlord, can be brought to court and forced to pay the rent for the whole period of the contract!


As a tenant, you can protect yourself filing a "claim for damages following the loss of occasion*" which means that if you can prove that because of the landlord you have had some expenses (like living in a hotel while the flat was being fixed), you can bring him to court and ask for a rent refund. Little consolation given the hassle!!


Finally, two days ago the landlord as agreed in cleaning the flat. I've been there yesterday with two independent witnesses and it is definitely a better experiences. Walls have been painted, bathroom and kitchen has been cleaned and the stuff has been removed. Only few details are left like cleaning the windows from the outside. Seems I got now a new contact person at the managing company which is taking me seriously.


If everything goes well, on Friday I will finally be able to move in. I scheduled the movers to come at 10 am so it should be done by noon.


Who's responsibility is this? Definitely of the estate agent, Rocco from Barnard-Marcus. Being an Italian himself I thought we were on the same frequency. Instead I realized that more than once he tried to pull it. He first raised the price once I showed interest, he tried to make me sign a contract without a break clause and finally tricked me in making a last-minute modification to the contract assuring me that the flat did not need to be fully repainted while I was away and could not recheck it.


I should never have accepted any contract modification and I should never never have had any contact with the estate agent directly but only though the relocation agent. The estate agent did not act professionally and for this reason I must warn any body from ever taking services from Barnard-Marcus and specially from him.


I learned a lesson, at the cost of two stressing weeks. It is so sad that you have to assume that people is unprofessional and unfair before they have proved them selves. It should be the other way around


* I'm not sure that "occasion" is the right word. I thought the lawyer said so but I could not find any reference on Google.

2 comments:

  1. Sucks Roberto :( London is indeed full of sharks. Luckily I've not heard too many tales of this so maybe it was a once-off.

    good luck!

    ReplyDelete