It's horrible in my house: most table lamps are packed; we sit here beneath harsh overheads with a car roof box for a coffee table. The walls are bare, furniture has been collapsed, and there are piles of our packed possessions everywhere. It's bleak, but at least there's a sofa to sit on. No cushions, but there's a sofa. What is alarming is that the (double) garage is more than half-full already. I thought we'd left many of our belongings back in the UK.
The gear is in the garage so it can be quickly loaded on to the removal lorry. (In Australia, removal companies are called removalists, which I think is incredibly silly. I won't use the word.) We haven't been given a quote. You pay by the hour, and of course none of us knows exactly how long it's going to take to load the van, drive over the river to our new apartment and unload into a basement garage before carting everything up in a lift. It could take hours. So, we've got to save as much time at this end as possible.
Much worse than this is the way our notice to quit has been handled. 'Our house' was sold while we were away on holiday with the Manchester chapter. We were given the absolute minimum notice period – 28 days. I had been led to believe by the previous estate agent but one – the one before the ambitious and officious and unpleasant one who doesn't give a monkey's – that we would have as much as 45 days. By the time we got back to Brisbane, it was more like three and half weeks, to find a suitable house in roughly the same part of town, pack, and organise all the other moving palaver – informing utilities, change of address notification, endless cleaning, etc. Most letting agents have told me they can't remember having so few properties on their books. No pressure, then.
Despite the sale being agreed, the ambitious and officious and unpleasant one who doesn't give a monkey's has continued to send us entry notices. An entry notice enables virtually anyone to tramp through our house whenever they like as long as the agent gives us 24 hours' notice. So, there were the pest people (they certainly were). We've been trying to get the landlord to send pest controllers round for the last 18 months. Now there's a rush. And the ambitious and officious and unpleasant one who doesn't give a monkey's had the audacity – while, once again, not accommodating my plea to rearrange an inconvenient visit (the Manchester chapter were packing to leave for the airport) – to plead time constraint!! Let her try to find somewhere to live and move in a little over three weeks?
The other day she issued an entry notice and then didn't bring the buyer through, but she didn't let me know, such is her complete disdain for renters. How does she sleep at night? I truly hope she doesn't. She drives a huge 4x4 – around South Brisbane's suburban streets – and she has a mobile phone glued to the side of her head. She has a face I would never tire of slapping.
And other little annoyances of moving? Just the $114 for Telstra to move our account from one house to another. It's not clear what we get for our money: we can't even keep the same telephone number. And our electricity company, Powerdirect, cannot read the meter here next Friday, when we move out, because they only read meters Monday to Thursday. Except they can read the meter in the new place on Friday.
And then there are the things you have to do before you leave a rented property. Like cleaning. The following is just part of a two-page list, just to give you a taste of what next week is going to be like.
And notice the first line; the gun to the frantically cleaning renter's head; follow this list or you won't get all your bond back. The bond amounts to thousands of dollars, of course, if you rent in an expensive area, like Bulimba in Brisbane. You pay it up front to secure a property once you've been offered it, and the money gets lodged with the Residential Tenancies Authority. We don't see a cent of interest so our thousands of dollars are providing a nice little earner for the ubiquitous Australian middleman*.
It must be fairly obvious by now that I am unhappy with the renting system in Australia. To move from one property to another is expensive (and I haven't even touched on the rents themselves), demeaning and stressful.
I'll get back in my box now.
* I have since learned that the RTA is a self-funding body, using the interest earned from renters' bonds to provide its services. This information is not immediately obvious on their website, however
This post was last updated on 14 September 2011