There’s a rat in my kitchen, what are you going to do?
I’ve been living in your cramped little four-bed semi for several years now. Don’t get me wrong, me and my three housemates have had some great times living together, what with all the wild parties, barbecues and orgies you’ve allowed us to throw. It’s been a blast and I’m extremely grateful.
However, as you know, one of my housemates is close to moving out. For the time being, I’ve persuaded her to stay. But it was a close-run thing. Personally, I’m relieved that the air of uncertainty my housemate created has now dissipated and I’m happy to inform you that, for now, all four of us will be remaining under the same roof.
What this little episode has highlighted is that there are long-standing differences within this household and, in particular, I feel there are several issues that remain unresolved. What we all agree on is that the status quo cannot be allowed to continue.
As a landlord, I expect your main concern is that we pay the rent and keep your property in good working order. But you must recognise that the role of landlord comes with certain responsibilities. A number of our recent letters to you, requesting basic maintenance, have gone unanswered. This has contributed to an air of hostility which continues to permeate through this house.
In particular, the problem with the overflowing toilet has become critical. There is also a rat infestation in the kitchen. I’m afraid papering over the cracks just won’t do.
Up until now, since we were thrown together all those years ago, this house has been run on the basis of mutual trust between all parties concerned. Unlike other households, we have not deemed it necessary to bother with such formal frivolities as a tenancy agreement.
Quite frankly, your house is in chaos. You have neglected your duties as a landlord and your tenants have begun to take liberties. They’ve begun painting their rooms all sorts of crazy colours, erecting shelves and even using Blutack.
But these are liberties you’ve allowed them to take. You’ve said to each of them that they can do what they like with their own rooms. Yet I – the tenant who pays the most rent and has by far the biggest bedroom – can do nothing.
How can that be fair?
Up until now I’ve sat here quietly, not really minding, happy with my lot and the fact that my housemates will never be able to fit a sofa in their rooms.
What you’ve done, by granting my housemates semi-autonomy over their bedrooms, is you’ve given them a glimpse of what life could be like if they one day moved out.
By trying to keep my housemates sweet, by throwing them a bone in case they get jealous of my home cinema system, you have inadvertently made the separation of this household more appealing to them.
For the first few years we lived together we used to share all our meals. Now, we all cook and eat separately. And I bet you can guess who gets left with the washing up?
The last time one of your tenants walked out, she left the rest of us to look after her new-born baby. We did our best for that child but I’m afraid she will forever suffer severe abandonment issues.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been happy to share with three housemates. There was some scepticism when you decided we should all be living under one roof, but on the whole it has worked rather well.
I know you’re keen for us to stay together, too. For one thing, we’ve made you very rich and powerful. Obviously, things were a lot better before you were forced to sell most of your property empire, but at least you’ve managed to retain a degree of influence with the local council.
What I’m asking for is not permission for me to decorate my room or put new curtains up. That sort of thing is all well and good but it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.
We need fair rent distribution, proportional to the size of our rooms. We need a cleaning rota. We need equal access to the remote control. But above all, what we need is a contract, a clear set of rules that explicitly sets out what our rights and responsibilities are as tenants, and what yours are as a landlord.
Because of the convoluted mess this household has been allowed to become, I’m afraid a tenancy agreement is the only way now to sort this out.
Every other house on our street has one, so why shouldn’t we? In an ideal world we could carry on living harmoniously without any rules or regulations to bind us all together. But in this new, complex society we’re living in, I’m afraid it is just no longer feasible.
Despite the recent murmurings of discontent from one of my housemates, we remain united. For the time being. But the situation will only deteriorate unless this matter is dealt with now.
Let’s start an open discussion, with everyone, about what we’d like this tenancy agreement to consist of. Let’s make sure we’re all happy with it. But let’s make sure that discussion starts now.
Else, I fear this household’s days are numbered. And I tell you one thing. It won’t be me who cleans the toilet when the time comes to leave.