“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance”

Alas, for Major General ‘Uncle John’ Sedgwick, a Confederate sharp shooter could indeed have hit an elephant, but instead made do with a human being at the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864.  I was reminded of my fellow military conquistador this week (stop laughing at the back, being able to quote entire scenes from Dad’s Army is the equivalent of attending SAS training…), when a landlord uttered the words that invariably make the recipient develop a nervous tic, “Don’t worry, it’ll be alright”. Mmm.  Words, that in my experience, proceed a situation that is a cause for concern and isn’t alright, not by a long chalk. The,”It’ll be alright/It doesn’t matter” argument is invariably used by people who have no experience/detailed knowledge of the subject that they are discussing.  This week, the aforementioned landlord insisted that he would obtain his own gas certificate for the property that he has decided to rent out, having appointed Cheshire & Co as his agents.  Two weeks, ten days, one week, three days before the nominated move-in date we repeatedly requested a copy of the said certificate, to be told that it was, “on its way”.  Forty eight hours before the move-in date we told the landlord that the tenants would not be moving-in without the presentation of a valid certificate.  “It’ll be alright”, he said. No, no, no, it won’t.  If one chooses to move someone into a property that does not have a valid gas safety certificate and they die from a gas/boiler related issue, then we, the agent and the landlord go to jail.  It never fails to amaze me that reasonable, sensible, educated people who are professionals in their own field think that they know best when it comes to my chosen field and in particular have a far greater understanding of the law in relation to the said area of expertise.

Whilst on the subject of phrases that are guaranteed to cause uncontrollable teeth grinding and an irrepressible urge to thump someone, I had a bonanza week with one vendor uttering in a plaintive tone, “Don’t be like that”.  As Newton’s Third Law states, ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’.  So, in relation to selling houses in South Wales, why am I ‘being like that’?  Possibly because having agreed upon a fee and secured a vendor a sale-for cash-they then try to renegotiate the fee.  What really pickled my walnuts was when it was presented as that they were actually doing me a favour. “I think that I can get the family to accept £300,000 (the asking price!) if you reduce your fee by £500”. Do I have £%$& tattooed across my forehead? May I respectfully suggest that you and your family not receiving the £300k will have a greater resonance than my not receiving £500?  You may be unsurprised to learn that the sale has gone ahead at the agreed price and for the agreed fee.

To complete the hat trick it was the written, not the spoken word that whilst an irritant, did actually make me smile.  Agents target each others boards, fact. Agents failing to recognise that the property that they have feverishly pushed a leaflet through the door is empty, fact.  If it is quite obviously empty, clue: no curtains, no furniture, who would you expect to pick up the letter imploring the owner to change agents as their current agent is Sisyphean?  That is correct: the said c£$* agent. The BS-ometer was red-lining this week when, in one of these epistles, the agent claimed to have the market edge because throughout the tenancy they monitor the credit status of the tenant.  WTF for?  History and a understanding of the human condition will show that as long as the tenant pays the rent on time, keeps the property in good order and doesn’t hold weekly meetings of the local chapter of the Klu Klux Clan in the garden (those burning crosses are a hazard), then nobody is interested in their credit status.  It also raises two further ruminations.  I assume that my fellow agent has it within the terms and conditions of the rental agreement that the tenant has signed that the agent can conduct multiple credit searches/constant monitoring of the tenant.  I am sure that they have.  Secondly, what about the credit status of the agent and the landlord?  That nice shiny new ‘executive’ car that the agent pulled up in-that is on the never never-how does that reflect on his/her credit score?  Why on earth is that anyone’s business and what relevance does it have on his ability to rent out a property, I hear you ask.  Absolutely £ all.  Just as the tenant buying a sofa from a well-known furniture store that, when they have finished paying for it (when the next King George is on the throne will have cost them the equivalent of the GDP of a small African nation), has nothing to do with their making the rental payments without fail every month.

On a separate and final musing, Rightmove has released the results of a survey to determine the ten unhappiest places to live in the UK.  All of the ten were in the greater London area, home to unrelenting house price inflation.  Perhaps money does not buy you happiness after all.  On the other hand, it is preferable to be miserable in the back of Mercedes than on a push bike…