We hope our issues with our previous landlord are now resolved. At least, we hope that the electric company will honour their word and not come after us for the unpaid bill, which all, except the landlord, have agreed is the landlord’s responsibility.
We have dealt with so many people throughout the course of our dispute, and each one seems to give different advice. It was extremely confusing and every time we talked to a new person, we had to describe everything from start to finish. “Frustrating” is an understatement.
But, in the process, we have learned a few lessons. Lesson number one: we need to be more aggressive. It wasn’t that we just let everyone walk all over us. We tried not to be a pain, so we didn’t whine and complain about everything. We reported problems when we needed to and left it up to the agents and landlord to work out what needed to be done. Unfortunately, neither showed any inclination to fix any problems. They blamed each other when it came down to figuring out what went wrong where. Lesson number two: due diligence. Don’t rely on someone else’s word for it, do it yourself. Lesson number three: the Brits have an “I don’t want to get involved” attitude. We get the sense that most Brits don’t want to give third party advice unless they are in alliance with you for some personal gain. For example, we considered getting someone close to the landlord to reason with him, but felt that we would be given the cold shoulder. Lesson number four: know who to turn to.
This last one could be tricky. Everyone tells you to go to the CAB for advice. We had gone to them several times during the course of our stay, but nothing useful was forthcoming. They can be helpful in many areas, but in our case, it seemed they were at a loss. It wasn’t until our account came up to the Live Debt department at the electric company that someone came up with a solution (though we cannot be certain that the issue is resolved yet). They’ve decided to proceed with a power shut-off to force the landlord’s hand. (Apparently, they wouldn’t do it if we were still living there.) So, the higher up the ladder you move, the more ideas you can come up with.
But, in the midst of all this, we found out through the RAC Legal Aid that we should have reported our landlord to the council. Apparently, it is not just for social housing landlords. Had we done so, we could have had an independent appraisal of the situation, and we could have had a refund on our rent. Perhaps, that would have also helped us to deal with the electric issue. Lesson learned. Hopefully, we won’t go there again.