hello neighbours, lovely friendly talk in the street share a beer lend me a band aid and pool our take away neighbours
hello friends, lovely friendly talk on the phone visiting sharing take away friends
hello lovely school right in our street
hello lovely child care centre where everyone is excited to see us
hello so so much smaller house
hello family, airport picking up shopping buying calling thoughtful just close by family
hello new dog next door (who woke me up this morning)
hello Melbourne summer weather at its finest
hello backyard with grass and trees and plums - so much green!
hello compost (oh it feels good not to be chucking fruit and veg scraps in the garbage!)
hello calling a small plastic bucket the pool
hello 27 loads of washing
hello not being able to find anything (including the floor and beds) in the chaos of unpacking
hello finding things left in odd places
hello returned bond from the scary uptight agents - HA! we did it!! we rock!!!
hello great big mess left by our tenants*
hello great big deck where we can eat dinner outside amongst the greenery
hello daylight saving, oh how we love love love you
hello waking up to the first number 6 instead of 5
hello unpacking stacking sorting putting away
hello crumbling kitchen floors
hello way too much to do
hello unearthed relics that make me smile and remember
hello home delivery take away food
hello real pizza tasting pizza
hello Marg the check out chick who hugged me and said welcome home and where's my boy?
hello Rena the green grocer who hugged me and said welcome home and where's Amy?
hello 3.30 school finish time. That's more like it!
hello getting organised
hello great big bed
hello indoor/outdoor living
hello streetlights shining in the windows
hello obscured sky
hello energy efficient digitally temperature controlled instant gas hot water
hello Mangala creative dance classes for 3 year old boys who usually just bash stuff with trucks
hello little tiny (screen, not overall dimensions) definitely not digital TV
hello squeaky floorboards
hello view to the street where people walk past all the time and sometimes even wave
hello normal mess
hello regular life
* I don't wish to go on about this endlessly, but really twitter and facebook just aren't enough to unload the bitter disappointment I feel about having my home left in such a state by careless, thoughtless tenants. I know it could have been much much worse (they paid their bills and didn't slash the couch or torch the place or open an illegal brothel on the premises so that every time I answer the phone some guy wants to book an hour with Candy or that cute chick with the extra toes) and I am trying to factor in all the things that are making me look at this in the most negative possible light - the incredible lengths we went to in the house we rented to restore it to pristine condition before we left and meet the shockingly high expectations set by the agents, the fact that our house is a run down shack in comparison to where we have been living, inevitable wear and tear (it's not like I am counting the numerous broken glasses or plates or expecting the windows to be washed), inevitable differences in viewpoints about what's reasonable, my monumental exhaustion etc. But that just isn't enough to explain away what's happened here and let this be a lesson to you all if you are considering letting others into your home. Next time I will
- make it a condition of rental that they have a regular professional gardener, even when they say they are happy to look after the garden and mow the lawn and cut back the voracious grape vine and not let the fruit from the trees drop and rot on the ground. Then I won't have to organise for someone (thank you Kate!) to come in and work for 2 days and generate the most enormous pile of green waste you ever saw and then have to find a way to dispose of said green waste. And it is not like I expected perfection, or that those 2 days gave me a garden even as neat as the one I left, it just dealt with the basic critical problems.
- specify a full bond clean by a professional cleaner so I don't have to justify why I didn't spell out that it was their responsibility to remove cobwebs and dead flies from shelves, mouldy yoghurt and fruit and vegetables from the fridge and cupboards, spot clean the grots off the couch, not clean the BBQ with a wire brush and then not oil it so the whole thing rusts up, not leave dirty washing in the washer and dirty sheets on the bed, not leave dust bunnies the size of dinner plates under the beds, not put away dishes in the cupboards that still have food stuck to them, not leave the carcass of a dead bird slowly rotting away in a tub of rainwater in the backyard.
- specify that the bit in the contract that says it is the "tenant's responsibility to replace items broken through accident, neglect or misuse or repair damage from accident, neglect or misuse" means the tenants can't (a) leave a list and pile of broken stuff on the bench and say they didn't know what to do about it (because stainless steel saucepans, cake tins, pyrex lasagne dishes and oven trays are not mysterious and difficult to find objects), (b) put broken stuff back in the cupboards and on shelves and pretend they didn't know it was broken (because spring form cake tins that don't close aren't any use to anyone and glasses with whopping big cracks in them are kind of dangerous), (c) say electrical items 'just stopped working' and they don't know why when the item is clearly visibly melted and burnt (I can't even work out how you do that to a kettle, let alone claim you didn't notice) or just not tell us when electrical items no longer work (what happened to that dust buster is a mystery to us all but I know it involved the inside of the filter being coated in once wet and now dried food that was never cleaned off), (d) smash wall switches and expect me to organise an electrician and stay home to wait around for them to come, (e) let their children draw on furniture with black texta and ball point pen and not get the marks off or have them removed, (f) dispute the cost of replacing and repairing stuff if they haven't bothered to do it themselves and consider themselves bloody lucky if I don't charge them an hourly rate as befitting their own personal shopper (g) let a bird in the house, let it fly around in the loft, shit everywhere and not clean it up, (h) have stuff simply disappear and feign ignorance (whether that be plastic plates featuring Amy's art work or now discontinued hideously expensive Japanese style tupperware storage and serving boxes or any number of other things we haven't even worked out we're missing yet - next time? an inventory I guess) (i) place beanbags or other meltable items in front of heaters, let them melt (leaving large clump of hard melted polystyrene stuck to inside of beanbag fabric) and then not mention it (until one sits down and gets a hard lump of plastic up the coit).
- have a clause that says refill the gas bottle on the BBQ when you take it from full to empty. Clearly the this is how and where to refill it instructions were not obvious enough.
- have a clause that says tenants should check first (that's what regular email contact is all about) whether we want cast off stuff before leaving it in our house, just in case we might want it or might want to organise to take the old toys, old bike, broken lamps, books etc to the op shop for them.
- spell out that tenants are required to follow Council guidelines in relation to garbage collection and that 2 separate verbal briefings and a printed publication on this not overly complicated system constitutes a reasonable level of guidance. Furthermore should tenants elect, despite advice to the contrary, to use the Council garden waste bins as giant compost buckets they will be responsible for the removal of 6month old maggot infested utterly putrid food scraps plastered therein, and the removal of the additional rubbish piled on top of bins that prevent bins from being emptied at all. I misunderstood is neither a credible nor sufficient excuse.
The tenants are shocked that I'm shocked and put all this down to minor differences in lifestyle and culture, a few misunderstandings and nothing that $1.75 in compensation won't fix. They think I am being unreasonable and trying to profit from them and I oscillate between wondering if I am being excessively harsh to wondering if they aren't off somewhere (like prime seats at the Australian open or flying first class to Australia's top tourist destinations) laughing their heads off at how well they screwed us. Or living in some parallel universe in which they really do think they have done the right thing when clearly they are in major reality deficit.
I am not at all sure how to tally up the damage, itemise the bond deductions and simply move on. I also have to decide what kind of feedback I will leave on the website we used to find them and how to balance reasonable disclosure for any future landlords with just wanting to put the whole thing in the past with my revenge fantasies and wanting to believe that this has all just been a horrible misunderstanding. I do want to believe that this isn't malicious and I don't want to be slagging people off, but I also don't want anyone else to return to their home to find weeks of nightmarish discoveries and many many hours of inconvenience and heartache while they repair the messes that have been left behind.
All I can say is it is bloody lucky everything else about the homecoming has been so excellent, otherwise I may seriously gone off.