#5 (2015) When You’ve Been Shafted
This year has been dominated by two things. Moving to Manchester and another failed house share. 12 viewings later and I thought I had finally found a normal house with people who lived normal lives.
I moved into a house with a temporary live in landlady. She was moving to Greece and needed someone to take her place in the house she owned with her other male tenant who had been there just over a year. It seemed like a great set up. Nice house, seemed to be kept relatively clean and there were usable rooms.
It kind of went wrong as soon as I moved in. I met the guy and my gut instinct was that there was something not right about him. More on that later. We needed to discuss cleaning rotas. Well apparently he didn’t have to do cleaning. Which foxed me a little bit. Still – single 40 year old guy – no discernible income – no discernible personality. Maybe he was just Mr Grey? Boring as fuck? It all started to unravel.
The landlady put a cleaning rota in place which caused several arguments between her and him about what he thought he should (or rather shouldn’t) be doing. And despite it apparently being enforced I was pretty sure she was doing all the work. Because it turned out she was a control freak who did EVERYTHING around the house. Anyway, back to the gut instinct.
Two weeks after I moved in, whilst the landlady was on holiday, I found out the person I was sharing with had a criminal conviction for fraud and had been to jail. I found out, not because anyone told me (even though my landlady was aware), but because his crimes take up the first 2 pages of Google and I am very good at finding out about people. My first reaction was to remove all paperwork and financial information from the house. I run my own business (thankfully not from home) so I really don’t need that in my life. I don’t have a lock on my door so I have no idea what goes on in the house whilst I am not there.
Thankfully I rent my own business premises so I stored everything there. Then I got a bolt on the inside of my bedroom door for at night because when you can hear someone creeping around the house at 3am it can unnerve you. I don’t feel completely safe in house shares without lockable bedrooms in any case but when you are living with someone with a record, it makes you feel just that little bit more vulnerable. After all, you are living with people about whom you know very little. Many tenants are not vetted, referenced or checked for criminal convictions. And many invite friends over about whom you know even less.
Even though he has been out of jail well over a year he is a man with no determinable income. He didn’t even own a bank account because when you’ve been done for fraud, anything to do with money is pretty much out of reach. And this bothers me given the circumstances of why he committed fraud in the first place. Somehow and despite being on housing benefit and job seekers allowance, he was somehow managing to run his own business. Sketchy. I suspected benefit fraud as well.
And coupled with his incredible laziness, his disinterest for responsibility of any kind and that he goes through far more alcohol than I deem appropriate for a man on anti depressants and you can see why this has not been the happiest part of my life in the North West.
My landlady decamped to Greece permanently just a couple of months after I moved in, leaving the two of us in charge and I feared the worst. In the first three weeks it all unravelled. He slacked on his part of the cleaning rota and I started to notice food going missing from my cupboards. When I realised he had no food in the house, I moved all my food things out and carefully attended to what was left in the freezer. And then I had to move all my bathroom products out because he was using them as well because shower gel was clearly non affordable.
So three weeks in I addressed my concerns to my landlady and she simply accepted my notice to quit the tenancy without any consideration for why I was going. Of course, whilst I am clearly better off out of it, it’s still a massive pain the backside. I’d just got the allotment garden sorted, my hens were very happy in their new home and I had just started to put the stress and strain of my move to Manchester behind me. Clearly I relaxed too quickly. The phrase ‘once a thief, always a thief’ whilst not always appropriate, certainly was in this case.