The landlady, Julie, turned up this morning, she brought her dog and a box of Cherry Bakewells and wore shoes she couldn’t properly walk in. We thought we were ready, we were not.
Weather: I’ve not been paying attention
Word of the day: Grimgribber – learned gibberish; legal jargon
After dispensing tea, some awkward politeness and staring, Jinjing launched in with our complaint, after all this has been building up for weeks.
‘We rent this flat, it’s ours, you can’t just come round when you feel like it,’ she said.
‘Have you looked at the contract?’ said Julie, and took a good long slurp from her cup. I wasn’t sure about that slurp, it seemed awfully confident for someone who’s been breaking the law.
‘Legally, you can’t come in without twenty four hours’ notice,’ said Jinjing, who’s been watching a lot of Judge Judy recently.
Julie pulled out a copy of the contract, licked her finger, turned the pages, then laid it on the coffee table, smoothing it out as she did so. She pointed at one paragraph with a red nail, and I wonder if she painted her nails for just that purpose.
We crowded around and read, we looked at each other, we looked at her, we looked at each other again, and then I said,
‘What does that mean?’ Really there is no need for contracts to be written in such weird language.
‘You don’t rent the flat,’ she said, ‘you each rent a room. You may use the facilities, but they aren’t in your rented space.’ She tried to stop herself from smiling and failed. ‘The flat is mine. I can visit it whenever I want,’ she finished with a small chuckle.
‘Oh bugger,’ I said. I was deflated. Jinjing wasn’t going down without a scrap.
‘But you still can’t come in our rooms, we do rent them. You need to give us notice, you can’t just come in.’
The landlady’s mouth snapped so tight shut that her painted red lips disappeared.
‘Fine,’ she says, ‘if that’s the way you want it. I was hoping we could be friends, but if you don’t want that…’
‘And you broke my laptop!’ I suddenly blurted out.
‘Oh I don’t think so!’ exclaimed Julie.
I go get the laptop, bring it out and show her. She could just have denied it, but weirdly, she said.
‘That’s just a cheap one though, you’d be getting a new one soon anyway.’
‘No, I wouldn’t!’ To be fair, it is a cheap one, because that’s what I can afford. ‘And you aren’t allowed to just break my stuff!’ She sighed, puffing out her cheeks, then waved her hand at me like I was an annoying fly.
‘Ok, how about I take £200 off this month’s rent?’
So, that is more than the laptop was worth, so suddenly I was happy and said ok! Jinjing gave me a look, but I didn’t care. Two hundred quid!
The rest of the conversation was boring and awkward. She’s promised to give us warning before she visits, but is under no obligation to do so and if she needs to turn up in an emergency, she will. I suspect this means nothing will change. She has promised not to go in our rooms, and we’ll have to see what happens with that.
It’s kind of a resolution. Two hundred quid!