9 Mar 2010

The nervous youth

We renewed the tenancy agreement on our flat this month, for another year - mainly because (aside from the fact  that we like it here and the rent's good) we don't want to move house again. We've moved five times in five years and that's just a few too many cardboard boxes. 

As part of the renewal process, our letting agent decided they'd send DSCN3961asomeone round to a) get the agreement signed and witnessed in person and b) do an inspection of the flat to make sure we hadn't sold off the appliances, repainted the walls black or ripped up the carpet. Fair enough, if I was a landlord I'd want to check that too, even if the tenants paid the rent on time, didn't complain (much) or cause any complaints to be made. Like us.

So, in anticipation of a middle-aged hawkeyed spinster obsessed with grease on hob exhaust grilles (yes, I'm speaking from experience), we got up early, Hoovered,  tidied, dusted and even washed the balcony windows (not a big task, but, oh my, the difference - we live on a very busy road with many polluting cars and trucks). The flat looked more than presentable and I was no longer paranoid about the disdainful inspector's imminent arrival.

The doorbell went and I put on my best welcoming smile, prepared to offer said harridan a cup of tea, when in walked a boy.

Yes, in a suit (or rather a sweater vest and tie) but a boy nonetheless. He couldn't have been more than 19, but looked about 15. He smiled nervously and shuffled a plastic sleeve of papers, looking for our tenancy agreement. They hadn't even given him a clipboard, bless - first tool of intimidation, the clipboard. As a stage manager I found it a terrific symbol of authority, right up there with walkie-talkies.

The boy finally found the agreement and we signed it, then he swallowed and said ‘I’ll just do the inventory’ and poked his head into the few rooms of our wee abode, rushing off a series of ticks on his list. I altered his list before signing it (we own the fridge but the other flats came with theirs installed) and he blinked, then nodded, wide-eyed and agreed. Too bad we're so honest, could have got ourselves a washer-dryer and cooker.

He was gone a minute later in a flurry of floppy hair and nervous nodding, but I have to wonder - what would he have done if he'd turned up to find we'd gone all Pacific Heights on the place? What if we'd repainted the ceilings to match the Sistine Chapel, torn up the carpet and carved Satanic symbols into the floorboards, punched holes in the walls and torched the balcony with a bonfire-style BBQ? What if, my chap said, we'd taken out all the walls and tiled the entire flat in pale green, with nothing but a toilet in the centre of the room?

I have to wonder, would our young inspector just have nodded, hyperventilating, and got us to sign the agreement anyway, then run away in tears of terror? I felt at the time that if I'd looked sideways at him and suddenly hissed 'BOO!' he might have wet himself. I can't imagine him standing up to the Andrex puppy, let alone a psychopathic Satanist decorator. Which, fortunately for him, we're not. But I have no idea about our neighbours.

1 comment:

Phillip said...

LOL :)

Long time no hear, hope all is well. Great post.