Moving On I’m Moving On…

And it’s not just my company that’s in the process of moving. Last week Sal and I squeezed all our belongings into a small white tranny and headed over to our new home around the other side of Regent’s Park. And it looks like we have finally managed to extricate ourselves from the whole messy Landlady not paying the mortgage debacle that was the last year of our lives, without either being evicted or ending up out of pocket at all.

As you may recall, we spent much of July last year wondering if we were about to be forcibly removed from our home. After a short respite, things kicked off again in October, with the arrival (rather wonderfully, in a “you couldn’t make this up” stylee on my birthday) of a court summons addressed to our landlady for the possession proceedings, which were due to take place at the end of November (when we were going to be in Australia).

The hearing itself never actually took place, but we didn’t find that out until a few days before it. A week before the court date, the claimant’s solicitors sent a copy of their evidence to the flat. Although we were both in Australia at the time, a friend of Sal’s who was house-sitting for us helpfully emailed us the details. This made for very interesting reading, especially the parts where the solicitor stated that “the claimant has not consented to any letting of the whole or any part of the property and to the best of [her] knowledge and belief there is no other people other than the Defendant and family who could apply to the Court for relief”. Not exactly words to encourage you to believe that your interests are going to be considered, especially if you happen to be several thousand miles away and can’t attend the hearing. This also made for interesting reading considering that I’d previously contacted this firm of solicitors and told them that Sal and I were occupying the property as the tenants.

Luckily, I happened to be staying with my solicitor sister at the time, and she helped me draft a witness statement that we then faxed over to the court. A few days later (on the day of the hearing) a letter arrived at the flat back in London letting us know that the case had been adjourned. Who knows what really happened–maybe she paid her arrears in full–but I like to think we played our own small part in keeping a roof over our heads for the remainder of our tenancy.

Of course the problems didn’t end there. As the end of our tenancy approached we began to wonder how we might go about recouping our deposit payment (a month’s rent). Unfortunately, it turned out that this was held not be our landlady, but by the dodgy management agency, the Spencer Michael Consultancy, who, we then discovered, had entered into a Corporate Voluntary Arrangement at the start of November 2005 in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.

After spending much of Christmas worrying about how we were ever going to get that back, we ended up gently persuading the landlady to sort us out and attempt to recoup the money from the agency herself instead. Who knows, perhaps she felt guilty for the events of the last year…

Of course, although we’re now essentially settled in, a new flat brings its own new raft of problems. Most of those seem to be sorting themselves out fairly quickly, though, and so far the utilities lottery that has become an annual fixture of my life seems to be going off in a reasonably painless way: for the third time in a row I have had to get a BT engineer out to activate my phone, but it certainly didn’t require a full street’s worth of engineers this time. And sure, one of the previous residents might appear to owe the council a couple of hundred quid, but that’s nothing compared to the events of the past year. [The increasingly threatening letters that had arrived at the flat over the course of the past several months (while it was unoccupied) do make for amusing reading, though–you can clearly see the progression, as the early empty threats (“notice prior to committal to prison proceedings”) morph into what appear (judging from the fact that several months have passed without it actually happening) to be rather baseless promises to send the heavies round (“in your area this week”) and relieve the chap of all his worldly goods. With each letter, a bit more red appears on the page–the most recent claimed to be the “final notice”, but sadly I’ll never get to see if that too is just an empty promise, as I phoned them up to tell them he doesn’t live there anymore. It would have been fun to see where they go from there (entirely red paper? red ink? death threats?) but I didn’t want to take the chance that they might actually pop round and relieve me of my iPod. So I’ll never know…]

2 thoughts on “Moving On I’m Moving On…”

  1. Hi There,

    We’ve also sufffered at the hands of Spencer Michael and I would very much welcome a conversation with you at some stage.



  2. Sure–drop me an email if you like. I’m not sure we’ll be able to help you much, though. As I said above, we got off rather lightly in the end (well, financially at least–it was a fairly stressful second half of the year…)

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