The roof in the laundry room has been leaking for over a year now. I noticed the water stains two years ago and was reassured that it was normal. Now plaster has peeled off in two areas and there is a significant leak when there is a downpour. We have lived with this problem for two years because it does not really bother us, since we do not live in the laundry room, and only ever use it for our ironing and washing. Secondly, we are so busy that hounding after the irresponsible agent makes our heads spin.

Unfortunately our agent’s incompetence has started to irk us,  me specifically, since i am the one who deals with the agent. She accused us of a late rental payment and when i checked with my bank the money had already gone through. This accusation came at a time when i was completing my elective in an area where internet was scarce and the phone reception unstable. So in addition to the heavy responsibility of twelve hour surgical shifts, i had to go to great painful lengths to check, clarify and follow up with the agent. Except the agent was missing in action for a few days. When i finally did get hold of her to inquire about the missing money, i was startled when instead of a greeting, she actually screeched into the phone that she had the money, and why was i hassling her?? When i calmly told her that no one had informed me of the new progress, she hissed that she had been busy. This phone exchange took place in the surgical ward, minutes before i was due for a ward round. I could not be too rude because i did not want to raise the eyebrows of too many people around me in the ward. So i subtlety made her admit that it was her fault (she yelled) before i thanked her (with much distaste) and hung up.

I was furious. I do not know what exactly went wrong since the last time we met we were on very friendly terms (unless she had been faking it). Plus we are certainly excellent tenants. We do not hound the agent, our rental payments are punctual, and we take care of the property. When we finally decided it was time she fixed the roof, she retorted that it was not forecast to rain and therefore it was not urgent. She only sent someone over when i called the company and spoke to another agent. Oh, and she sent a plumber to fix the roof. All the plumber did was slap on a couple of tiles. He did not even mend the holes in the plaster. My housemate and i were and still am appalled. We started looking around for a new place. We wanted to break the lease. We also sought the advice of a housing counselor from our University.

And that was the final straw that broke the camel’s back for us.

The counselor bluntly told us that 1. We will certainly get a bad reference from the agent making our search for a new place difficult even though this is not our fault (this infuriated me since i ensured my reference was pristine for the last three years and now someone was ruining it because she was racist/incompetent/evil), 2. We are legally bound by our agreement regardless of the agent’s negligence to maintain the house so we have to pay the rent until we find another tenant which is impossible. Who the hell will move into a house with a leaking roof?! 3. The agent may be a bitch but we have no rights as tenants to even request for a change in agents from the same company.

After these three revelations, the counselor proceeded to educate us about Life and likened this agent to the boss from hell when we start work. We hate her but we still have to deal with it. In fact, she encouraged us to approach our agent, take her out for coffee and apologized for OUR behaviour. When my housemate flatly refused on grounds of principles, this ditzy couselar retorted that she had apologized millions of times in her life for no good reason, and that we need to keep our personal lives apart from issues like this. If a roof over our head is not personal enough, i am not so sure what this counselor is talking about. I knew she had already lost my housemate. My housemate had dismissed her and kept silent throughout the conversation. But at least my housemate gave her enough respect to maintain eye contact. I merely concentrated on the computer screen behind this person. I could not bear to look at her and even if i did, it was more of a blistering stare. Here in front of us is another prime example of incompetence.

I was shocked beyond words. How did a world class institution like ours hire this nincompoop? Also i have finally accepted how badly run this country is. There is a system in place that bullies middle class tenants, boot licks those with cash and ignores the people who are in desperate need of a house. I ran through the ads and found innumerable ads of single parent families and young couples with babies who have been denied housing because they were not rich enough or perhaps because they were just unappealing. I cannot even start to describe how distressed and frustrated i am.

Previously i have just speculated that the system was as such, but now it has been carved in stone. Nothing can alleviate my disappointment. We are suffering an injustice, i guess, who are we not to suffer any right?

We have a few more months on our lease. By then hopefully my housemate and i will know where we have been matched. If we are still in the same state, we will rent a newer place. Perhaps the prefix Dr, in front of our names will help (it probably will, this is how superficial society has become). If not, the worse outcome will be for me to board my dog for three months, and we seek short term accommodation for our remaining semester.

This is just disgraceful.


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