Before anyone gets too excited, this won’t be a Mills & Boon type account of a salacious affair kindled over some broken plumbing. Oh, how much easier life would be if it was. But no, this is a far less satisfying and rather typical tale of woe about students and the ongoing battle they endure with their landlords.
Let me set the scene: it’s a Sunday evening. I am reading Wikipedia in a last ditch attempt to ‘revise’ for my exams. I suddenly hear another housemate shouting. I pause a moment, wondering if I can be bothered to combat whatever calamity is clearly ensuing outside my bedroom door. My better judgement takes over, and I enter the landing to see a stream of water pouring down the corridor from the bathroom, and the sound of a mini waterfall cascading from the ceiling underneath.
Thankfully (due in part to the fact I have so many) I am rather level headed in times of crisis. I banged on the bathroom door, urging another housemate (and instigator of the flood) to stop their shower, and began the search for some kind of bucket that could collect the leaking water from the level below. Up until this point, things sound pretty standard. But we were faced with two slightly puzzling issues: firstly, that the water underneath the shower was pouring directly through a hole in the fire alarm on the ceiling below it, and secondly, that there was liquid coming out of the light fixtures. Neither of these things looked too promising. To add another element to our cacophony of house-failing noise, the central electrical system had started beeping incessantly to let us know that there was a fault. And people say technology is useless.
Of course I was not expecting a team of tool-wielding workmen to arrive on the doorstep on a Sunday evening, but I did hope that we would get some kind of response from our property management company (the biggest one in Selly Oak…I leave it at that) after dialling the ‘emergency number’ given to us. To be fair to them, we did get a response. The response was that we’d called the wrong number and they couldn’t do anything about it.
So time for the next plan of action: trying to find a direct number for the landlord. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet here, but I am somewhat skilled in the art of complaining. Stern enough to mean business but polite enough not to offend, that little chestnut has got me a lot of things over the years. I explained the problem and that we were in a bit of a bind, but rather than offering any guidance, I was rudely told to stop making an issue out of it and to sort it out tomorrow. Apparently being worried about some kind of watery explosion, broken fire alarms and leaking lights is irrational.
Ten minutes of him telling me off culminated in his ill-fated warning ‘now don’t get saucy with me.’ Now not only was this rude and uncalled for, but come on. Saucy? It’s not 1953. Get some new phrases, old man. After the excitement of that little nugget, he casually dropped in that he was on holiday in Spain. Super. So a phonecall across the continent and several sopping wet towels later, I gave up, resigning to get the issue sorted in the morning. Except when I woke up at 9am with my game face on, I realised it was a bank holiday. Everything got sorted with relative ease the next morning, but why landlords feel the need to belittle the people who essentially pay their wages is beyond me. We may be teenagers, but this shouldn’t mean we have any less right to challenge problems in the homes we pay for. The saucepots.