They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in life. Add drunk, verbally abusive ex-tenants to my 8 month pregnant state and yes, yes I’d agree with that! But I had better start at the beginning.
When the transfer process dragged on and on, closer and closer to my due date we decided that moving while pregnant was preferable to moving with a newborn, and bit the occupational-rent bullet. We set the date of occupation as November 1st 2013. The estate agents assured us we’d actually have keys by late on the 31st after the tenants had left and the agents had had a chance to do an inspection. So I lined up all the various services to happen on Friday 1st. Telkom to transfer the phone line, a cleaning service to come in and do a proper clean, the security service to come and check on the security system and all that jazz. We’d bribed friends with promises of beer and pizza and booked their time on Saturday 2nd to do all the heavy lifting and moving as well as hired a trailer. Things were lined up like a house of cards.
On the Tuesday before our chaotic weekend, I had to stop in at the estate agents and they casually mentioned that they were “having a few problems with the tenants not wanting to leave”. That was October 29th, they had to be out by 12:00 on Oct 31st and they had not yet begun packing. Cue sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. However, I decided that there was no reason (yet) to worry as the estate agents were the ones dealing with the issue and getting the tenants out was their problem, not ours. I did inform them that I had lined up everything to happen on the Friday and we would be moving in on the 2nd. NO problem.
On the 30th, the principal agent phone me. There was some slight hysteria in her voice as she told me that the tenants had sent them a lawyers letter stating that “as they had not yet found a suitable alternative, they’d be staying at least another month”. I was speechless. Fortunately, the estate agent had the foresight to get the tenants to physically sign a hand delivered copy the notification of termination of the rental agreement; so they had no legal leg to stand on. Not having another place to go is NOT our problem! However, they STILL had not started packing. I may have begun to panic a little at this point. I went ahead and rescheduled the Telkom appointment (fortunately that’s VERY easy to do online! – thought it did take over a week to get reconnected; a story for another time) and notified the cleaning service that there ‘may be a slight problem’.
On Thursday 31st, I had several tense phone calls to the agents who had finally sent in their own lawyers to point out the futility of staying in the house to the tenants and they finally started packing up the house. They were still packing when the agents went round at 9pm to find out what the story was. They were still packing at 8am on Nov 1st when I had to call the cleaning service to delay our appointment (Maids on the Move – they were awesome!). Eventually I called it and said that I’d be there at 12:00, with the cleaners, anything left in the house was going to get thrown out. And that’s when the fun really started. I arrived, met the principal agent and discovered a few things. The tenant was sitting in his car, refusing to speak to anyone. The driver of the bakkie who was helping them move their stuff had “the only” set of house keys. The tenant’s wife refused to give us the driver’s name or cell number or tell us when he’d be back. Then she just stopped answering her phone. So we said we’d be calling a locksmith to let us into what was now OUR property; for which the tenant would be charged. The agent was literally on the phone to the locksmith when, miraculously, the driver appeared with the keys. Fortunately, because they’d worked all night, there was nothing left in the house itself. Unfortunately because it’d rained overnight, there was mud trekked all over the carpets and the house was *filthy*. At this point the driver got out of his BMW and began hurling abuse at the estate agent (not me fortunately) in Xhosa. And then we smelt the alcohol on his breath and many things became clearer. I think he was mightily shocked with it turned out she could not only understand him but shout right back!! Add a few more fun arguments about the state of the carpets, the picture holes in the wall that they were supposed to fix and you have a very stressful afternoon! In the meantime, the cleaners had been sitting around twiddling thumbs for about an hour and they could now, finally, get in and start cleaning.
In the end, the tenants hauled the last load of their stuff away (from the garage) at 4pm on Nov 1st. I called in the locksmith anyway and changed all the outside locks and the security company kindly came and re-set the alarm code and switched on the radio link. So much for beginning to move a few of the easier things!
So, I suppose you want to see some photos?? (Just to make this already long story, longer!). The house is a single storey, three-bedroom, 2 bathroom (main en-suite) open plan affair. The bedrooms are all carpeted and have built in cupboards. The rest of the house is tiled. Great now in the heat of summer, but I’m slightly dreading winter! We have an enormous two door garage. The plot is a shade under 1000m2 and is split into three levels. The garage at street level, then above that, the house, then at the very back, there’s a wild bushy area which we are probably going to leave as is.
So there you have it! Our new home! Ok, so the outside paint job is hideous and must MUST go…and there are some other important things we will do, such as adding water rain-water tanks that are plumbed into the house, putting up a balcony, and replacing the electric hob with a gas one. I also have grand visions of a deck in the front year, raised kitchen garden beds, perhaps even a wind turbine to supply electricity to the house (we face the prevailing wind…) but for now I am loving having our own home to grow into. And we’ve already enjoyed sundowners on the verandah…
Next time, I’ll show you moving chaos and what it looks like now