Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Pleasures of Renting

There was a knock on the door.
            "I've been told to come and look at your insulation." The man said. "What's wrong with it?"
            "We don't have any." I said. 
            He looked at me and blinked. "Yeah. Right. What's wrong with it?"
            "We don't have any." I said again.  "That's the problem."
            The inspector actually took a step backward. "What?" He said, shocked. "No insulation in your roof? None at all?"
            "None at all."
            "But it's 37 degrees outside!"
            "And you've got a black tile roof!"
            He looked at me in horror. "Why the hell did you do that for, then?"
            "We didn't." I said. "We're renting. After we moved in, let's say that certain... deficiencies in the building have become rather apparent. The insulation's written into the lease. The owners just won't install it."
            "You can't possibly have nothing up there." He said furiously. "Where's your access?"
            I pointed down the hall to the access hatch above the study door. "We don't have a ladder, but I can offer you a chair, if you like."
            He snorted and, grabbing the edges of the hole, chinned himself up for a look around.  His legs waggled furiously.
            "There really is nothing up there!" He said, chinning himself back down. He shook his head and whistled. "And look at that that." He said. "The front door frame's sloping sideways. How old is this place?"
            "About a year." I said, grinning.
He staggered again. " Who's your landlord? Who built this place? How the hell did the council even pass it?"

I was, in a quiet way, thoroughly enjoying myself. After we moved in and discovered just how badly our house had been built, the hot-weather contingency clauses we'd insisted in adding to our lease became rather important - or would have been, if our landlords had shown any intention of honoring the contract. We've been trying to have the insulation put in for six months now. And to have the flyscreens put in the windows - something more than critical here in the blowfly belt, at least if you plan on enjoying through-ventilation. The landlord's latest desperate avoidance tactic has been to go on holidays in Thailand, where they can't hear our bi-weekly pleas and imprecations. A tactic which makes his claims of being budget-strapped less than convincing.  The only reason we're even having an inspector come round is that the real-estate agent took advantage of the landlord being away and ordered it herself.
            The inspector looked around thoughtfully. "Where's your air-conditioning?"
            "Over there." I pointed.
He stomped over to the wall and squinted at the unit. "Half a kilowatt? Bloody hell! You're trying to cool a whole house with that?"
            "Oh, not all of it." I said. "Just all of it except the living room.  The living room's got a 2 kilowatt unit in the corner. It just doesn't reach any further than the living room door. The one you're looking at? We can't measure any effect farther than 8 feet away. We're sort of camping out in there under the big unit, mostly.  You see the mattress leaning against the wall there?"
He shook his head.
            "I need to come back with a ladder and have a proper look at this." He muttered and stomped back down the hall toward the sloping front door. "And I'm calling the council to find out who built this place. I'll be back."

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