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Peridot

Landlord Visited Without Telling Me

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This is my first post on HPC although I've been visiting the site for 18 months and am now addicted! Any advice would be much appreciated. I moved into a rented property one month ago (I STR'd). The letting agent is in some way connected with the property but am not sure how - his office address is on the lease but he originally stated the house is owned by a farmer. This morning I noticed that the latch on the gate to the back garden was not as I left it and had been oiled. Also, a freestanding trellis (4.5 foot high) which I had bought to block off the second access to rear (no gate) had moved. Obviously someone has squeezed past to gain access to the back garden within the last 7 days.

The house I live in is in a small village, quite wealthy and strangers would be noticed so I think it's either the landlord or his workmen. I was not told that anyone needed to gain access to the property and the lease states that I must be given 24 hours' notice in writing unless it's an emergency. On 7th July I was asked to move the trellis for a period of one week to allow a gutter to be cleaned. As far as I know this had been completed and I moved the trellis immediately back and cleared up the significant mess left behind. There has been no correspondence with the agent since then.

I'm really bothered by this unannounced visit especially as I'm a women living on my own. I also experienced more than one incident of dodgy people hanging around the back of my last house which was in a dodgy area, consequently I felt very vulnerable. I did mention this to the agent (not in detail but I did say that I had experienced problems with the rear of the property and this was one reason I had sold the house. I added this was why I had bought the trellis planter as when I moved in anyone could walk 360 degrees around the property freely). Please can anyone advise how best to handle this as I want to make sure this doesn't happen again. The agent so far has been pleasant but I'm wary of his involvement/attachment to the property (which only came out after I had signed up). I've signed a 1 year lease which I don't plan on renewing however I'm actually regretting moving here (for other reasons) and wish I'd only signed up for 6 months. However if I have to stay until June then so be it. I want to make it clear that visits without telling me cannot happen again however I'd also be interested to know if this incident could be used to break the lease without penalty? Or, am I causing a fuss over nothing???

Further to the above, I called the agent on Wednesday to say I wasn't happy with the visit and could he let me know of any need to access the property in the future in advance. He apologised and said he would. Last night I got home from work to find my post in a neat pile and the kitchen door shut (I never shut it). Then a man came to the house, never introduced himself (I only knew who he was because a neighbour told me 5 mins previously). Anyway, he's the father of the agent, and, I assume the owner of the property. He told me that he had been in the house as the Electricity Board needed to see the meter. In short, the whole village is having new electricity pipes laid. The man from the Electric knocked on my door and didn't get an answer so put a letter through the door saying could I call them "at my earliest convenience" to arrange for them to gain access. The work isn't being carried out until 4 August. As the owner of the property lives up the road (only found that out yesterday!) he asked the Electric man if he had gained access to my house. He said no so the owner said he would take him there and then to the house which he did. I never received a phone call to say that this was going to happen and am fuming and feel violated. The owner did not seem to think he had done anything wrong. I'm now feeling very vulnerable knowing that the owner lives up the road (and the letting agent too!!!) - I was never told this when I took the property on. I'm a woman living on my own out of the house 13 hours a day 5 days a week and do not feel comfortable living there now. I'm waiting for Citizens Advice to open to see if I have the right to leave without penalty given this has happened. I'm not sure I want to stay there now...

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Further to the above, I called the agent on Wednesday to say I wasn't happy with the visit and could he let me know of any need to access the property in the future in advance. He apologised and said he would. Last night I got home from work to find my post in a neat pile and the kitchen door shut (I never shut it). Then a man came to the house, never introduced himself (I only knew who he was because a neighbour told me 5 mins previously). Anyway, he's the father of the agent, and, I assume the owner of the property. He told me that he had been in the house as the Electricity Board needed to see the meter. In short, the whole village is having new electricity pipes laid. The man from the Electric knocked on my door and didn't get an answer so put a letter through the door saying could I call them "at my earliest convenience" to arrange for them to gain access. The work isn't being carried out until 4 August. As the owner of the property lives up the road (only found that out yesterday!) he asked the Electric man if he had gained access to my house. He said no so the owner said he would take him there and then to the house which he did. I never received a phone call to say that this was going to happen and am fuming and feel violated. The owner did not seem to think he had done anything wrong. I'm now feeling very vulnerable knowing that the owner lives up the road (and the letting agent too!!!) - I was never told this when I took the property on. I'm a woman living on my own out of the house 13 hours a day 5 days a week and do not feel comfortable living there now. I'm waiting for Citizens Advice to open to see if I have the right to leave without penalty given this has happened. I'm not sure I want to stay there now...

Speak to the police imediately, somebody letting themselves IS HARASSMENT it what tenant harasment is defined as

I have had an identical problem so did rpevious tenants but you will need to go through the police in order to have the justification to move out

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Speak to the police imediately, somebody letting themselves IS HARASSMENT it what tenant harasment is defined as

I have had an identical problem so did rpevious tenants but you will need to go through the police in order to have the justification to move out

Good advice, I would also add...do you have friends to stay with temporarily? If so, move now.

Stop all rent payments including council tax as from today, and inform the council after the police, give them your crime reference number. Claim all your removal expenses too.

Move as soon as you can.

Good luck and keep us updated.

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Good advice, I would also add...do you have friends to stay with temporarily? If so, move now.

Stop all rent payments including council tax as from today, and inform the council after the police, give them your crime reference number. Claim all your removal expenses too.

Move as soon as you can.

Good luck and keep us updated.

Thanks for the replies. I've just spoken to the Shelter helpline and they said I can't use these visits as a reason to get out of the lease. I can't afford to pay for 10 months' rent and the rent to live somewhere else. Nightmare!

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Speak to the police imediately, somebody letting themselves IS HARASSMENT it what tenant harasment is defined as

I have had an identical problem so did rpevious tenants but you will need to go through the police in order to have the justification to move out

I agree with Matt. In your original post I thought possibly you were over-reacting - one-off, new tenancy, need to clarify position, then all OK- but for this to happen AFTER you had told the agency of your views is unacceptable. The LL needs to have the Riot Act read to him in no uncertain terms.

However, don't act too precipitately; what you want (?yes?) is for the LL & letting agent to abide by the law and give you quiet enjoyment and due notice of essential admission / repairs. If this can be assured, there are a few (not many, but a few) advantages in having the LL & LA local - if YOU want anything doing they can't avoid you badgering them till it's done. And someone who actively wants to keep an eye on the property may also be a useful deterrent to any other intruders - most likely bored teenagers, given it's the summer hols now.

If you move you've got all the hassle that entails, and may just have a different set of problems wherever you move to. You may be happier with a large impersonal LA and and a firmly absentee landlord, but getting things done is often more difficult.

The perfect let /LL /LA:

*provides an immaculate & secure property

*ensures the neighbours are quiet and unobtrusive

*ensures his property is a safe locality with good transport links

*responds to all requests for repairs with an appointment with an accredited tradesman win 12 hours

*ensures said repair is completed within 48 hours (less if it's a catastrophe like water pouring through the roof)

*is never seen except by request from the tenant

I'm sure you can add a few more. Most lets fall down somewhere! In particular, good tradesmen are like hens teeth, especially on the Friday of a Bank Holiday which is when disaster usually manages to strike.

Consider whether you REALLY want to move, or just to rein in the LL and convince him it's no longer his property. Change the locks, for a start.

Edited by cartimandua51

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Can't add any advice but just want to add that it doesn't surprise me that he doesn't think he has done nothing wrong. Amateur landlords often seem to think that it is their house and they can do what they like with it. Contrary to rebnterbob though I should get legal advice before not paying your rent. Make sure that you are snow white on this one.

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Good advice, I would also add...do you have friends to stay with temporarily? If so, move now.

Stop all rent payments including council tax as from today, and inform the council after the police, give them your crime reference number. Claim all your removal expenses too.

Move as soon as you can.

Good luck and keep us updated.

Bad advice... seek to resolve the issue first and then take stronger action later

Things work very differently in the countryside and the police are a lot more laid back

The important thing is to protect yourself while you are in your property, leave a key turned in the locks overnight (so another key can not be push through)

You have to have shown that you have made an effort to resolve the situation before you move out otherwise the courts will take a dim view, I know that is not fair but all told life isn't fair. What you don't want to do is expose yourself to a counter claim and I would save with holding rent as a trump card in your pack as it has to be used carefully. The rule on withholding rent is to set conditions against it and write twice stating the conditions have not been met before actually not paying the rent. This way the court will see a rational responce to the problem and not an over emotional one (I have personal expereince of what you are going though so I undertsand but you must not make the situation any worse for you)

Not paying council tax is a daft idea, if you have furnature in the property you are liable regardless of whether you live there or not and you and you alone are liable (they even send little old ladies to prison for non-payment)

Another action is changing the lock and taking the cost out of the rent (set-off) but again only after two or three letters

Finally Motorola make a fab gadget called Homesight (PCworld used to sell it) which films people as they come in your house and sends an email out as evidence, it is only £50 but needs you to have broadband but it stopped our LL coming in our house unannounced

Edited by Matt Henson

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Bad advice... seek to resolve the issue first and then take stronger action later

Things work very differently in the countryside and the police are a lot more laid back

The important thing is to protect yourself while you are in your property, leave a key turned in the locks overnight (so another key can not be push through)

You have to have shown that you have made an effort to resolve the situation before you move out otherwise the courts will take a dim view, I know that is not fair but all told life isn't fair. What you don't want to do is expose yourself to a counter claim and I would save with holding rent as a trump card in your pack as it has to be used carefully. The rule on withholding rent is to set conditions against it and write twice stating the conditions have not been met before actually not paying the rent. This way the court will see a rational responce to the problem and not an over emotional one (I have personal expereince of what you are going though so I undertsand but you must not make the situation any worse for you)

Not paying council tax is a daft idea, if you have furnature in the property you are liable regardless of whetehr you live there or not and you and you alone are liable (they even send little old ladies to prison for none payment)

Another action is changing the lock and taking the cost out of the rent (set-off) but again only after two or three letters

Finally Motorola make a fab gadget called Homesight (PCworld used to sell it) which films people as they come in your house and sends an email out as evidence, it is only £50 but needs you to have broadband but it stopped our LL coming in our house unannounced

Put me back on Iggy Matt.

This staement from Matt makes me cringe 'The important thing is to protect yourself while you are in your property, leave a key turned in the locks overnight (so another key can not be push through)'....like us renters are little prisoners in our homes...disgusting...and he's a LL. Surprise surprise.

Yourself and Cartmandau keep spouting we renters, whilst getting shafted by you 'landlords' should all be good, white and polite.

RUBBISH.

Move NOW. Money can be replaced, you can't.

Matts advice is dreadful and dangerous to say the least, clearly you show, yet again, a disdain for renters livelihoods, and as lanlords yourselves, this is not surprising.

Peridot...stop all rent payments, call the police, email the council (so you have a record), give them your crime reference number...and inform them why your are stoppoing council tax...don't ask, tell them....I have beaten councils on this so I know what I'm talking about.....they will huff and er...but will come round.....don't tell them it was your LL who came, say it was an unidentified man, and your are frieghtened for your life...there are many dodgy LL etc yand safety is your first priority.

Clearly, Matt and Cartmandau, both scummy landlords telling renters to 'pay for this and that', change locks etc etc....ridiculous....

The OP safety comes first, and that may mean doing things for self protection.

STOP all payments, immediately, and if the LL comes after you (which he won't, call the police again 999, with your crime reference number and they WILL come very fast), despite Matts ridiculous claims to the contrary.

Edited by renterbob

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Bad advice... seek to resolve the issue first and then take stronger action later

Things work very differently in the countryside and the police are a lot more laid back

The important thing is to protect yourself while you are in your property, leave a key turned in the locks overnight (so another key can not be push through)

You have to have shown that you have made an effort to resolve the situation before you move out otherwise the courts will take a dim view, I know that is not fair but all told life isn't fair. What you don't want to do is expose yourself to a counter claim and I would save with holding rent as a trump card in your pack as it has to be used carefully. The rule on withholding rent is to set conditions against it and write twice stating the conditions have not been met before actually not paying the rent. This way the court will see a rational responce to the problem and not an over emotional one (I have personal expereince of what you are going though so I undertsand but you must not make the situation any worse for you)

Not paying council tax is a daft idea, if you have furnature in the property you are liable regardless of whetehr you live there or not and you and you alone are liable (they even send little old ladies to prison for none payment)

Another action is changing the lock and taking the cost out of the rent (set-off) but again only after two or three letters

Finally Motorola make a fab gadget called Homesight (PCworld used to sell it) which films people as they come in your house and sends an email out as evidence, it is only £50 but needs you to have broadband but it stopped our LL coming in our house unannounced

This does not apply in this instance and any solicitor will successfully argue so. The courts won't need to be involved, unless the LL/LA are really dumb.

Harrassment is a serious matter in court.

The OP is within her rights to STOP all rent IMMEDIATELY.

Edited by Bubble Pricker
The OP should not rely on legal advice posted on an Internet forum

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"Harrassment is a serious matter in court"

Has to proven to be malicious, just as trespass is only a criminal offence if it is aggrevated

Edited by Matt Henson

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"Harrassment is a serious matter in court"

Has to proven to be malicious, just as trespass is only a criminal offence if it is aggrevated

and your suggestion in the meantime?

Let the perps do anything they wish. Ridiculous.

Matt, this is a SINGLE woman living on her own...you seem repeatedly incapable of understanding womens needs in this matter.

Is this why you're single? Seriously, your posts are two dimensional on this.

Know yourself Matt.

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Renterbob, I don't believe you are right in what you say. I think you are jumping to reactions and not giving sound advise, although I'm not a lawyer.

The OP should talk to Citizens Advise / Shelter first before taking advise from a poster on any forum. If Peridot feels threatened a chat with Police is in order.

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Renterbob, I don't believe you are right in what you say. I think you are jumping to reactions and not giving sound advise, although I'm not a lawyer.

The OP should talk to Citizens Advise / Shelter first before taking advise from a poster on any forum. If Peridot feels threatened a chat with Police is in order.

Can you be more specific?

One things's for sure, if the OP was my mother/sister...the scummy LL/LA family would get a good legal thumping from me.

But this is a single lass on her own, the LL/LA here are permitting their Vested interests to get in the way of good, safe advice...

1. Call police.

2. Call friends to talk to and move to thier place temporarily

3. Stop all payments to landlord.

4. TELL the agent to cancel contract and move (with NO further payments due to intrusions)

5. Inform council you have moved THAT day, stop all council tax.

Or something along those lines would be good advice, IMO.

Safety first, money later.

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renterbob - think you live in your own world

so they let the leccy man in - wow

get the gallows out and hang him

neither a renter or a LL

feels like i've dropped in onsome american site

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Thanks to all the replies - very mixed bag! Euan - the fact that it was just the electricity man is not relevant as it's the act of going in without notice 24 hours after I had already complained. It's still a violation and breach of lease. I've logged the incident with the Police but it's just a log - they said they won't act as it's more a civil matter. I called the agent (son of landlord) to complain. Mentioned how uncomfortable I felt, distressed etc etc and said that I would prefer to leave early. He said straight away that's fine. When I said ok, can you confirm that in writing he changed his tune. By the end of the conversation he'd turned completely and was mentioning his 'rights' and how if I left early and it went to court, my reasons wouldn't stand up (ie electricity man and creasoting gate). btw, he seems to think entering the garden and creasoting the gate without telling me was absolutely fine to do! He's happy for me to get locks changed but wants me to think about things before making a firm decision but my feeling is that he isn't going to let me break the lease. I said I also wasn't comfortable about the landlord living seconds from my house (wasn't told that when I signed up) to which he replied that has nothing to do with feeling uncomfortable. I don't know of many tenants who would want to live that close to their landlord!

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The landlord's visit to the house constituted trespass. You could make a complaint to the police if you chose to do so.

If you now longer wish to live at the property, you could try and serve notice of termination on the landlord for material breach of the shorthold tenancy agreement (based on the trespas). The landlord may not resist the termination in order to avoid trouble. If he does reject it, you would have to weigh up the risk and hassle of a protracted legal case and the possibility that you might have to pay 10 months rent at the end of it.

You have no right to withhold any payments until you have validly terminated the contract and moved out.

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and your suggestion in the meantime?

Let the perps do anything they wish. Ridiculous.

Matt, this is a SINGLE woman living on her own...you seem repeatedly incapable of understanding womens needs in this matter.

Is this why you're single? Seriously, your posts are two dimensional on this.

Know yourself Matt.

Yes but no criminal offence has taken place, a breach of contract has occured which if repeated could become the criminal offence of harresment, nore has a threat of harm has taken place. The law is very very objective

Now as a single woman I would be very concerned, just as I as a father of four was concerned when my LL made a threat of harm to one of my children but for a successful case in law you need 1) evidence 2) prove that you are at risk of harm

I know of two case where harrasment was used as the defence against my landlady, one succeeded and one failed, the one that succeeded did so because she took the advice of the police and followed due process. She was able to leave after 4 months and was awarded some compensation without incuring a breach of contract cost. The other did what you are suggesting and lost a lot of money

As for your threats of violence... just silly. Secondly rural society is different, people do wander in and out of each other gardens to help a neighbour, it is much more tight knit which I why I can let my 8 and 6 years old roam freely because I know that everybody is looking out for them.

Edited by Matt Henson

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Thanks to all the replies - very mixed bag! Euan - the fact that it was just the electricity man is not relevant as it's the act of going in without notice 24 hours after I had already complained. It's still a violation and breach of lease. I've logged the incident with the Police but it's just a log - they said they won't act as it's more a civil matter. I called the agent (son of landlord) to complain. Mentioned how uncomfortable I felt, distressed etc etc and said that I would prefer to leave early. He said straight away that's fine. When I said ok, can you confirm that in writing he changed his tune. By the end of the conversation he'd turned completely and was mentioning his 'rights' and how if I left early and it went to court, my reasons wouldn't stand up (ie electricity man and creasoting gate). btw, he seems to think entering the garden and creasoting the gate without telling me was absolutely fine to do! He's happy for me to get locks changed but wants me to think about things before making a firm decision but my feeling is that he isn't going to let me break the lease. I said I also wasn't comfortable about the landlord living seconds from my house (wasn't told that when I signed up) to which he replied that has nothing to do with feeling uncomfortable. I don't know of many tenants who would want to live that close to their landlord!

Peridot, chill a little these people may just honestly think they are being nice and helpful, don't jump to conclusions and give it a little more time, you may start to appreciate the country life.

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Peridot, chill a little these people may just honestly think they are being nice and helpful, don't jump to conclusions and give it a little more time, you may start to appreciate the country life.

I agree. Although the LL and EA should be told that they can't tresspass and should have your permission to enter your house, I can't help but thinking that you might be over reacting because you regret signing a 1-year lease and are looking for a reason to break the contract.

And I am neither a LL or renter, but have been both in the past. I also have had to deal with a LL entering the property without my permission once and scared my mother who was over for a couple of days. We managed to break the lease with the LL simply by talking to him nicely. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar and all that!

Edited by AdV

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I said I also wasn't comfortable about the landlord living seconds from my house (wasn't told that when I signed up) to which he replied that has nothing to do with feeling uncomfortable. I don't know of many tenants who would want to live that close to their landlord!

Peridot, you are understandably a bit upset. But realistically... the agent and landlord have always had a key to your house, so nothing has actually changed. The odds of your L being a mad axe murderer are negligible (if he were, you'd have found out by now!).

And if you didn't want to live near your L you should have asked before you moved in; sorry.

There is so much bad advice in the above posts it makes me cringe. If you move out and stop paying your rent, you will end up in court, and you will be forced to pay 10 months' rent to the L.

A court will almost certainly not accept that a couple of unwanted visits constitute harassment. Sorry! And as for calling the police, well it is a civil matter so they are perfectly propertly not interested. Don't lie to them about "strange men" - if you ever do end up in court you must have been utterly truthful. And anyway... there's nothing they can do about a strange man who has long-since left; with the tidied up post you have

However, you should write clearly and carefully and politely to your L making the point absolutely clear and reminding him of his legal obligation to inform you 24 hours in advance; tell him if he does it again you will be changing the locks and withholding the cost from your next rental payment - which you will be within your rights to do, although expect him to withhold it from your deposit when you get it back.

Remember, the best Ls are the ones to whom you are nice. Polite and firm and nice. He doesn't sound like a nightmare; he tidies your post; he oils your gate; merely a bit naive.

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To give a slightly different perspective, I also had a similar landlord who used to pop in and tidy things. Unlike you, I did not realise it was happening until one day I was off work, and he walked into my bedroom while I was asleep.

It was clear that this had been happening fairly often as he was very surprised to see me. Nothing compared to my surprise. There was no reason for him to be in the property aside from his own nosiness. When I asked what he was doing he had no explanation aside from the fact it was his property.

I don't blame you for feeling as you do. Be nice to your landlord because he may just be very stupid - but if there's anything that suggests it is routine, then I suggest you move. These sorts of landlords rarely change and can be very difficult.

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Peridot, you are understandably a bit upset. But realistically... the agent and landlord have always had a key to your house, so nothing has actually changed. The odds of your L being a mad axe murderer are negligible (if he were, you'd have found out by now!).

And if you didn't want to live near your L you should have asked before you moved in; sorry.

There is so much bad advice in the above posts it makes me cringe. If you move out and stop paying your rent, you will end up in court, and you will be forced to pay 10 months' rent to the L.

A court will almost certainly not accept that a couple of unwanted visits constitute harassment. Sorry! And as for calling the police, well it is a civil matter so they are perfectly propertly not interested. Don't lie to them about "strange men" - if you ever do end up in court you must have been utterly truthful. And anyway... there's nothing they can do about a strange man who has long-since left; with the tidied up post you have

However, you should write clearly and carefully and politely to your L making the point absolutely clear and reminding him of his legal obligation to inform you 24 hours in advance; tell him if he does it again you will be changing the locks and withholding the cost from your next rental payment - which you will be within your rights to do, although expect him to withhold it from your deposit when you get it back.

Remember, the best Ls are the ones to whom you are nice. Polite and firm and nice. He doesn't sound like a nightmare; he tidies your post; he oils your gate; merely a bit naive.

Peridot - I'm sorry to hear that you've been left feeling anxious by the LL's visit after you asked the agent to stop him coming in. But Telometer is right - I can't see a court agreeing that a couple of visits without warning is harassment, even if technically the LL is going against the terms of the contract. I think you'd have to show that you'd responded proportionately (moving out after just two incidences doesn't seem proportionate to me) and had made it clear to the LL what your expectations were before you would be able to break the tenancy. It's annoying to have to do this, especially as you are absolutely right that he should not be coming in without notice, but you will just have to grit your teeth and do it.

However, it does seem like you are overreacting a little. It's time to write a letter to your agent and your landlord, putting your concerns in writing, politely but firmly. Refer him to the relevant clauses in your contract which refer to quiet enjoyment. Writing letters (keep a copy) and keeping a diary of the LL's visits (if they don't stop) is probably the best thing to do to get evidence of a pattern. Hopefully you won't need it, but at least you'll have it!

You can't do anything about where the LL or the agent lives - it might not be ideal (I don't think I'd want to live very close to my LL either, but I did see the LL's address on the contract before I signed it, so I knew they weren't going to be our neighbours) but they do have to live somewhere, you know! Chalk it up to experience and remember to ask about it for the next place you rent.

I am also a woman and lived on my own for several years, so I've been in your situation, and I am slightly surprised as to how much this is affecting you (I also wondered, as AdV did, whether you were looking for a reason to break the lease). Contrary to what's been said above by some posters, being a single woman doesn't necessarily mean you're a delicate flower who needs special treatment or someone else to fight her battles for her. Pulling the "I'm a woman on my own" card will get you faster service from the AA if you're broken down, but it won't get you out of a contract, I'm afraid.

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I would not take the extreme measures above of withholding rent. You would get better advice from CAB but I'd personally try and follow it up with them making sure that they are aware that they cannot enter the property and give them the legal quote. IT seems fairly harmless. Someone coming into your garden to mend a gate isn't very serious IMO, infact it's quite nice and helpful. To come into your house is not on but as above I think they were trying to be helpful but naive.

Regarding the guy who was woken up by his landlord, what was your reaction? I think mine would be act first, think later, flight or fight and I wouldn't have anywhere to run so...

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