sorry I've not been on much this year, it's been a hell of a time..... we've withdrawn soph from school, moved house and I had to leave some of my beautiful plants behind. If anyone fancies sending me some Ramsons bulbs, I'd appreciate it lol. I had a lovely patch going at the old house.... anyway, here's an update form Casa De Flibble:
ok early on in the year we'd been getting offers from the council, but all of the flats we were offered were postage stamp sized. We did apply for a few though just to try and get out of the mould infested rat hole we lived in.
then came march, and we'd not been informed we had to reapply for the council and would be knocked back down the list and spend another year climbing back up again. not necessarily what we wanted to do, but we'd not got enough money for another rental deposit, and knew getting our old one back would involve a fight as the landlord was a dodgy... person. more words could be used, but this is a public forum.
anyways, we sat tight whilst trying to work out what to do.
in april we withdrew sophie from school and began home educating her. within days we were seeing the extent of her problems and having a hard time working out how to fix them. getting a proper dyslexia/dyspraxia diagnosis has helped though because now we can tailor education to her, but we're still trying to get her over the idea that if she does something wrong she'll lose her break times, or that she needs to sit still for as long as it takes her to complete work, or that we will be angry if she doesn't understand something. patience and love will help lol.
through a local home ed group I met a wonderful woman called michelle who has sort of become our guardian angel lol. We became friends as we're very similar people, and sophie really gets on with her two children.
one lunchtime, soph and I were at her house. soph was playing with her kids, and michelle and I were chatting and knitting, full of the pasta lunch michelle had provided (bliss)... I told her about the place we lived in. I told her all of the problems. I cried. nothing more was thought on my part about it until a few days later she mentioned her neighbour was doing up his property to rent out. he'd just had some particularly nasty tenants move out and was fixing everything they'd destroyed. she had asked him for his phone number and wanted to pass it on to us!
So James rang Mr M and had a good long chat with him. he seemed... well, a breath of fresh air compared to Mr C and his agent that we'd been renting from for the last 4 years. We came to view the house. Mid century mid terrace, good central location, excellent bus routes, driveway, two sheds, big garden (overgrown at the time but I could see the potential!), two bedrooms, nice bathroom, new kitchen, new carpet in one bedroom, carte blanche to decorate if we wished........ We'd brought with us a folder of bank statements going back 5 years as we knew the ex landlord would not give us a reference (how dare we hold him to his legal obligations!!)...these showed rent paid every single month. We offered Mr M full paroosal of this folder and he declined, and offered to rent the house to us directly rather than via an agent. he cut £75 per month off the rent as he'd not be paying agent fees, and gave us £200 off the first month in return for us decorating the livingroom!!! he let us have the keys 3 weeks early too to complete the works and have a phone line installed!!!! did I mention he's an all-round good egg?! I think it helped him to trust us that on our second viewing (when we knew we were getting the place) I asked if I could head into the garden and start clearing some for him. it was in a terrible state and I couldn't stand by and watch him have to do all that himself as well as do up the house. I'd brought tools in our car boot just in case.... I was excited!!!
So anyway, notice was given on the mould hole as soon as we'd signed forms with Mr M and the move began. we heard nothing from the agent. nothing at all. so we did everything by the book so to speak, all legal and above board. all traceable just in case. keeping to legal time limits and so forth.
we moved in to the new house, which is situated between Michelle's house and Mr M's parent's house :D (they're lovely too, I can see where Mr M gets it from).
The new house is smaller, but better laid out and mould free. incidentally, this is the first winter sophie's not needed an asthma inhaler for night times. every other winter since age 2 she's become wheezy in november and needed the ventalin until about march. this year? nothing. coincidence? I think not. she's still getting the odd fevers, but that's also being looked at seriously now... back to the house....
We ended up posting the keys back to the agent as still no contact was given at all.
We waited for contact from the agent. a week after we moved out, jim got an email from someone we'd never heard of, telling us she'd taken over our agent's properties and could jim please meet her at the house to hand over the keys. well, no answered he. he couldn't. he'd posted them back due to no contact. he then got a call from someome at the original agent's asking for the keys....... all weird. he gave them the parcel tracking number and told them very politely to sod off. we've since heard a lot of things about the agent and done some digging ourselves. I'll get to that....
after a while we applied for the return of our full deposit (£975) from the deposit protection service and were then informed the landlord had done the same thing, so it would be put to arbitration. we were sent a copy of the landlord's statement. 3 a4 pages in size 10 type of lies upon lies upon lies. we'd expected no less, but although it falls to the landlord to provide burden of proof, we still wanted to answer his claims in order to give ourselves a fighting chance of getting our money back. so we spent 2 solid weeks gathering together our evidence. I don't think Mr C realised that as soon as he and his agent started acting dodgy back in 2007, we became avid record keepers and were able to send 1.5lbs of evidential paperwork and photographs to prove the lie to almost every single one of his claims. It was well worth the courier fee.
21 days it took the arbitrary commission. probably a lot of that was trying to word his report so it didn't come across as sarcastic because it reads like he took a look at the landlord's claims, then at our counter evidence and saw what a dodgy effer the landlord really was.....
did we get it back? most of it. We're getting £825 of the £975. he's getting £85 for a door (we couldn't work out which one his report was talking about so couldn't counter it with anything), £55 for half a mirror (again couldn't work out what mirror, the report says it's giving half because they can't guarantee it's not in the house still) and a tenner for polyfiller which I nearly wee'd myself laughing at.
We were worried not only that he'd be found in the right (I know, seems silly looking back) or that he'd be able to take us to the civil courts and claim more lies, but he can't. as a government agency, the DPS has the final say. As he agreed to arbitration, he has no further legal recourse. apparently if he intended to take us to court and lie some more, he'd have had to inform the DPS and they wouldn't have allowed arbitration. we were worried that if he was granted the full deposit, or near the full deposit he'd still have recourse but nope. arbitration is final. it's over!!!!
guess when we found out? christmas day! it was the best christmas present either of us has ever had. I cried. I hyperventillated, as I was the recipient of the email informing us of the decision. I couldn't tell James why I was in a state, sophie was scared and all I could do is hand jim the laptop and run upstairs before I pee'd myself.
once I'd calmed (thank you Harvey's Bristol Cream!) I rang my mum, cried more then popped to Michelle's to give her the good news!!!
so this is us ending the year on a high note. the money will be in our bank on thurs/fri this week. we're starting 2013 nearly debt free. and having Mr and Mrs M and possibly their two teenage kids over for coffees in the new year!! this was their first family home, I want to show them that we're taking good care of it. Mrs M refused to even visit Mr M's parents next door while the ex tenants were here because it upset her to see them ignore the garden and not take care of the house.
now, to the agent from the mould hole....... hmmm where to start? in 2011 they tried to claim we were behind on rent, which is how we ended up with a folder of bank statements to show Mr M. their first comment was we'd made a msitake. their second was "I'm sure it happened when you changed jobs" to James. he's worked at the same place, on the same pay system, and we've had an account with the same bank since 2004. We tried telling the landlord what a dodgy person his agent was back in 2009 but were told in a sharp tone "I've worked with this man for 15 years!".... ok. so how do you explain that he's now done a runner with over a year's worth of rent from each of your properties, disappeared and you've had to hire a private investigator to find him then Mr C? ah! so you see, you're not the only one with lifelines into the local parish gossip train!!!
We don't have the money for a PI, but we do have a lot of very trustworthy but slightly dodgy friends with more friends in high places. My friend P has managed to find out for me that the agent goes by at least 3 names, and I myself have found out he's been the director of no less than 12 companies which have either gone under, or disappeared and stopped trading. all property based. all over the place. all running from mail forwarding centres and "virtual offices". places you can hire by the day, week or months to make it look like you have an office somewhere, but are actually a glorified PO box. I'm now doing this investigative stuff for fun, but think I might give up. I have enough vindication in the form of the huge sum of cash being plopped into our account this week.
in other news, I made the craftster hit list a few times this year with various hand made items. I still knit, though not as much since the diagnosis of arthritis in my hands (ffs!!!). I'm undergoing tests as the dr isn't sure if I have rheumatoid arthritis in my large joints as well as hands, or if I am the sufferer of the fabled fibromyalgia. you never know, perhaps now the major stress from my life is gone things might start to look up.
i made James a festive jumper and due to the landlord crap, the move, arthritis and forgetfulness (I left it and my needles at my mum's house for a week) I didn't get it finished for Yule, but he got it at 11am on christmas day. I think the neckline needs work though...
2012 is ending on a much higher note than it started. and I am more than happy to see the back of it.
oh and some of the best news? I got a greenhouse for my 30th birthday!!! :D Jim's built me a little staging from the bits of wood Mr M had in the shed too, left over from the improvements! he said we could do what we like with the bits and bobs in there, or he'd remove them for us. we picked through, kept things we can make stuff out of and he disposed of the rest :D GOOD EGG.
I'd sort of like to frame the arbitration report. I keep reading it and smiling.
Much love! hope your 2013 starts as well as mine!!!
oh how I love my tea, tea in the afternoon. I can't do without it, and I think I'll have another cup very