I haven’t been posting much these school holidays as I’ve been quite preoccupied with attempting to move house. The search has been an on-again-off-again affair for the last six months but I was determined to move over this break. I don’t have to move, but there are a number of drawbacks to the place I’m currently in, the biggest one being the two rent rises I’ve had in a little over the last year, with the expectation I’ll have another one shortly now that we are in a new calendar year. For the same money, I can have a house closer to work. Well, that’s theoretically the case, since they are advertised and out there, but for most of the time I’ve been looking, you’d have to fend off the other 10-20 interested parties due to the current tight state of the rental market.
Rather than bore you all with all the houses I’ve looked at, I’ll just tell you about the two for which I actually made applications. The first one was first advertised two weeks before Christmas, while I was still doing ESSA marking. The photos showed it off well (they had been taken on an occasion when the property had been empty) and it had all the features I was after for $10 less per week than I pay now. I rang the agent and he said he’d arrange for me to inspect it and get back to me. A few days later he called and explained the tenants wouldn’t give access so there would be an open house the Saturday before Christmas – the day after the tenants were to vacate. I did some drive-by inspecting before then and found the front yard was a bit of a mess, and there was no sign of the tenants actually being in the process of vacating (or cleaning up). I arrived at the open house to find that the tenants were still in residence, along with all their junk. Lots and lots of junk. The amount of junk was boggling (along with the position chosen for the piano!). But I managed to look past the junk, and liked what was underneath it all. The place was quirky in some respects – there was a second bathroom/laundry and storeroom out the back (there was so much junk in the laundry I almost failed to notice the toilet and shower I was standing beside!) and I noticed a volume dial attached to the outside wall of the laundry. I asked the agent what that was about, but he was dumbfounded. I looked up, and there were two speakers mounted on the wall as well – this laundry was wired for sound! I tried to work out where the power/sound was wired from, but was defeated by the junk. I appeared to be the only prospective tenant viewing the place (everyone else was busy because of Christmas?) and I had positive encouragement from the agent who assured me the tenants were being evicted (for failure to pay rent – they were at least four weeks in arrears at that point and had ignored a 14-day notice of eviction) and would definitely be gone within a fortnight, so I made an application for the place. I had to sweat it out over the Christmas/New Year period, but knew from drive-bys that the tenants hadn’t gone anywhere. On the first business day after New Year, I was told what I’d been dreading – the tenant was staying. They must have managed to cough up the rent. Bugger.
The other place was another house with ‘peculiarities’. This one was advertised with a picture of what looked like a jungle for a front yard. I inspected the place as part of a ‘group viewing’ (an open house that has not been advertised) with at least three or four other interested parties. It was described as having three bedrooms and an additional room/study off the dining room. The additional room was also the route of internal entry from the garage, so you couldn’t have used it as a bedroom. The back third of the house was an extension that had taken place some time in the past. Access to the ‘new’ bathroom/laundry was through the ‘old’ bathroom, which still contained a shower and a space where the bathtub had once been but which was now provisioned with power and waste outlet for a washing machine. There was ‘creative’ plumbing – the tap handles for the washing machine were on the ‘old’ side of the wall, but the tap outlets were on the ‘new’ side of the wall beside the laundry tub (oh, and they were about 30cm from ground level too!). The ‘new’ bathroom was massive, as far as bathrooms go, and had a enormous yellow, square bathtub at one end, a toilet beside it and the vanity at the other end. In between was lots of open space and a large sliding door to the deck at the back (access could also be gained to the deck in a more conventional manner through the dining room), and a cat flap – just what every bathroom needs! Weird enough yet? The back garden was very large and very overgrown and was complete with a bathtub (from the old bathroom I expect), trampoline and ‘shed’, which may have been a chicken coup many, many eons previously. And out of control bamboo, weeds, long grass, rubbish etcetera, etcetera… Four workmen from a landscaping firm were in the process of clearing the front garden while I was there and they were apparently going to remove the bamboo and work on the back garden as well. I made an application for the place, while wondering if I was a bit insane, but it was $25 per week less than I pay now, and definitely habitable. That night I did another search of the online rental ads again and found the property had been removed from listing on one site, and edited on the second site such that it was now described as a four bedroom house with the rent jacked up by $55 per week. The real estate agent never bothered to ring and inform me of the change to the asking rent or ask if I still wanted my application considered – which was probably a good thing as I’m not sure I could have remained civil. Some real estate agents are bastards.
On Saturday, having viewed another two houses that got me nowhere, I gave up for the time being. I unpacked the new widescreen LCD TV and Nintendo Wii and set them up on Saturday night and on Monday I did a massive grocery shop – my fridge/freezer/pantry contents had been run down for the last two months in anticipation of moving and there was very little left. (Yay! I have icecream!). There has still been knitting and spinning happening, which I’ll show and tell next post.