I’ve posted elsewhere about how happy I am with the flat I live in here in Barcelona, but it’s not without its headaches.
The property is managed by “full service estate agency [sic.]” Lucas Fox, but they haven’t delivered on their promise and I pay quite a lot in rent compared to similar places. The list of errors and poor customer service is as long as my arm, for instance:
- the property wasn’t ready on the agreed date, so (my now ex-) girlfriend and I had to hole up in a hotel for several days when we arrived from the UK, expecting to move in
- they allocated (albeit lovely) Spanish/Catalan speakers to manage the property, when, because I travel so much, the only person available to receive them was an English/French speaker (my ex)
- they didn’t check any of the appliances, so:
1) the cooker broke;
2) the boiler broke;
3) the fridge-freezer went on the blink (resulting in a lovely, stinky mess of rotten food following one of my extended stays abroad (thanks to Barclays);
4) the dishwasher broke; we were left with black marks all over new white sheets and clothes, so we assumed the washing machine had broken, but in fact it was the clothes dryer that hadn’t been cleaned for years (they switched the washing machine without checking it, before I realised the reality – the new w/machine being too big for the space in the kitchen, thus messing up the fittings);
5) neither of the loos works properly and one of them is loose;
6) one of the radiators has sprung a leak so it needs a pan underneath it;
7) the oven is too hot for the surrounding kitchen units, so the plastic on the doors melted – solution: take away doors
several appliances are electrically charged so they give us minor shocks from time to time and;
9) Lucas Fox insisted on fitting a second air conditioning unit even though we told them we weren’t ever going to use it and that we’d prefer to keep the balcony intact for entertaining.
There’s more I’m sure, but I can’t be bothered to remember them.
The last point is particularly galling, as we specified that if we had to have an aircon fitted, that it be “sympathetically installed.” What actually happened is that they stuck a great big white plastic pipe up the outside wall to cover the wires. This offended the neighbours so much (we couldn’t work out why there seemed to be an atmosphere in the building) that I was accosted by the official building adminstrator and marched across the road to view the ‘hideous’ installation. I explained that I don’t own the flat and that Lucas Fox were responsible for it. Apparently that calmed the neighbours down, as I haven’t heard much more about it.
What’s more, the lights in my study stopped working for three months during the summer due to faulty wiring (the fuses still blow regularly if my flatmate and I turn on more than two appliances at any one time… it happened three times last night while I was cooking) so, for several months I have been forced to work in the dining room – I HATE THIS, BECAUSE I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SHUT OFF AND RELAX NOW AND THEN.
The best thing is that it seems to take an average of a month to fix any individual problem. In fact, there are still outstanding issues (the wobbly loo, for example), but Lucas Fox seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to charge me full rent – the problems in the first six months were so bad that the landlord let us off some rent. He seems blissfully unaware of what’s going on – judging by the number of people who have moved out (I get their mail) over the years, I’d imagine it’s been like this for a while.
Oh well, I have been invited to a meeting at their offices (quite why I have to go there, I don’t know… it’s during my working day and given recent events in Egypt, I want to be by my computers/watching the news as much as possible).
As the UK banks have discovered, working in PR means that I am somewhat… er… pedantic when it comes to keeping email records. I assume, therefore, that Lucas Fox will acknowledge that it has not kept its contractual obligations, resulting in A) considerable discomfort for its tenants and B) a substantial loss in value for the landlord’s otherwise lovely property. If not, I guess I’ll just blog about it.
It’s not a bad place, I mean, even my mum liked the flat when she came to visit. And nowadays even the neighbours are friendly.