Copyright: David Lawson - London Docklands Property Guide 1997Home page
It had been a hard day at the office. A bath, a meal and an early night were all he was thinking of while going through the torturous routine of keying the front door security code and working the locks on his apartment. An attractive woman broke off from stripping wallpaper to ask whether he had brought home the paint. He thought it odd that she was totally nude. Even more odd was that fact that she he lived alone and she was a total stranger.
The managing agent sorted things out. Apparently the lady's real address had been a 'rest home' since her husband ran off with a neighbour while she was redecorating. Her family passed on the flat to be rented out - but not the fact that she had a weakness for returning to finish the painting when the nurses' backs were turned. 'Try passing a law to stop that one,' said the unfortunate agent, weeping into his beer at a favourite Docklands watering hole. It was a sceptical response to the battery of new legislation which now sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. 'They may be curbing the rogues, but what about the loonies?' said the slightly-sozzled cynic.
There are plenty of similar tales locked up in agents' files - as many about horror tenants as loony landlords. Simon Harris of Oliver Jaques remembers the complaints that were being received about noises coming from one flat his firm managed. 'They were bemused by the strange screaming coming through the walls,' he says. Now, agents are not stupid nor unworldly. But this was during the day - and did not appear to be coming from the bedroom. A diplomatic visit revealed tenants with rather strange religious ceremonies. They involved ever-so-slightly slaughtering sheep.
But there is landlord who might have deserved such tenants. He had a call from someone with a 'beautiful' refurbished, two-bedroom house to rent. It certainly was beautiful - from the outside. Inside, however, sheep-slaughtering would have been little problem, as there were no carpets or curtains. Cleaning up might have been a problem though, as there was also no sink - nor a boiler. Like those people who take the light bulbs when they move, the prospective landlord thought letting unfurnished meant the tenants would bring their own fixtures. 'He was bemused. He said there was a Calor gas stove for heating. I pointed out that this might slightly alarm the health and safety inspector.'
At least he was merely dim. As the naked lady proved, some are quite mad. One agent tells of the man who strutted into the office one day fuming over the potential tenants proposed for the two flats he had just bought. 'They are not big enough,' he said. That seemed rather odd, considering both worked for giant international banks, so the agent found some alternatives. Back came the old buffer with the same complaint. 'Send me anyone under 6ft again and you're off the job,' he shouted before the door slammed. It emerged from his long-suffering wife that the chap had an aversion to shorties after being mistreated by a tribe of pygmies during Army days.