One final post before I really really get down to that word-reno job!!! This has been on my mind lately… nagging and looping at me in typical Aspie fashion.
I moved into this place in Dillon Street, Paddington, when I first arrived in Sydney. Photos taken from the public advertisement on domain.com.au. It turned out to be one crazy fiasco, a comedy of errors with some less comedic undertones.
Being typical visual thinker and literal minded Aspie, I read the ad many times over, noted all the delicious details in my mind, and became very attracted to the visual photos posted.
The ad said:
Furnished Double Bedroom in grand 3BR Terrace.
Fabulously large furnished double bedroom available immediately. This elegant well proportioned 3bedroom terrace house is located in one of the best tree-lined cul de sacs in Paddington close to 5 Ways. We are looking for a non-smoking professional over 25 with healthy lifestyle to share with 2 flatmates. Enormous cupboard space and quality bedroom furniture. Move in with your suitcase.
This grand and generous terrace house has been beautifully renovated with marble fireplaces, granite kitchen with stainless steel appliances, dishwasher and internal laundry. Chic modern bathroom with claw legged bath tub upstairs and powder room downstairs. Separate dining living and family rooms. Landscaped north facing backyard with City skyline views and rear lane access. Private sunny office/study. Quality fittings and furniture throughout the house.
- Alarm System
- Internal Laundry
- Polished Timber Floors
- Built-In Wardrobes
- Air Conditioning/Heating
I sent a text about myself, and the owner called back and we made an appointment for me to view the place. The owner greeted me in a very lovely, friendly manner. I walked through the door, and saw a beautiful house, clean and neat, and I was quite taken in by the initial, superficial visual impact. I am never my best at impromptu interactional situations, and talking to a stranger in such a setting is never something I am good at – my brain cannot function on too many levels at the same time during social interaction, and I am very terrible at picking up implicit nuances or gauging the mental state of the other person. Yes, the whole weak implicit Theory of Mind thing does spring to mind, doesn’t it? In addition, I was desperate. I didn’t have much money for temporary lodging, I needed to quickly settle down and get on with my university work, and this place was within walking distance to my campus, in a very genteel locale.
I moved in a few days later. And the nightmare began.
I won’t regale you with the gory details, else this may turn into a horror novel, but here are the things that were blatantly misrepresented. And it was as much my own fault not to have properly checked, as it was the owner’s nefarious deed of deliberate misrepresentation.
Everything in the flowery description of the place was true. But it was clean and tidy when I viewed it. I didn’t know that the owner would turn out to be a depressed, jobless, untidy and stroppy creature. The place slowly fell into a state of decay afterwards.
My bedroom had NO balcony, although one is advertised as one of the features. My bedroom had NO view, and I certainly never saw that view in the photograph in the ad. The beautiful designer bathroom was infested with cockroaches that won’t go away even after I had placed 6 cockroach traps all over. The 2 others did not bother to give me a space in the bathroom to put my stuff, until I asked for it. And yes, Aspies hate to ask, but in the end I did. The shower stall was slimy and never cleaned, although the owner told me he did all the cleaning regularly. The toilet bowl was utterly disgusting, and some mornings I would enter and be greeted by the sight of someone else’s leftover crap. The smell was overpowering, and I did wash it once. But why should I have to, when it wasn’t part of the terms of rental? The cockroaches from the bathroom came over to my room. The telly reception in my room didn’t work. There were bloodstains on the mattress. There were old yucky towels and sheets left in the wardrobe, and even someone’s old tampon under the bed. I had to do a MAJOR cleaning. The other 2 flatmates began to get on my nerves, not just because of the dirty disgusting bathroom, but also because they liked to SLAM doors. Yes, SLAM doors! I would be most startled each and every time it happened. And usually it happened in the dead of night.
The kitchen was well equipped, up to a point. The cooking pots were stained, and the teflon surface of the supposed non-stick pans were all scratched up and I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. I came home once, armed with a whole lot of freebie leftover foods from the postgraduate induction that I’d just attended, and I offered some to the owner. I put the rest in the fridge. Well, the next morning, ALL my precious cheese was GONE! And some other stuff mysteriously disappeared too. I never touched any of their food, again, I guessed I was being too Aspie, so I let that pass, but it did upset me. I hate people taking things from me without first asking. Oh, and the two guys would leave their dirty pots and pans and dishes and glasses in the sink, and never wash them, so I ended up being the dishwasher, even though there was a dishwasher there. Why? Because I needed to use the kitchen, so I had to clean up the mess before I could get at the sink.
What about that “private sunny office/study” as advertised? It was an untidy mess, piled high with junk atop a rather lovely old deak, and it belonged to the owner. I never got to use it. I also never got to enjoy the telly and the ‘lovely’ living room – the owner was perpetually sprawled across the broken down sofa (not as pretty as in the photo) in a state of depression, watching telly, and I don’t like to invade other people’s space. Again, probably my own fault for not doing so, after all, it was advertised and I was paying for that, wasn’t I? All I wanted was a clean bedroom, a decent kitchen to cook in, and a clean loo. Was that too much to ask for? Apparently so.
I felt it was just too much money to pay for a room in such a set up. So I told the owner I wanted to move, and I told him the truth, that I needed a cheaper place because I couldn’t afford it anymore. His ‘friendliness’ changed after that. He became grouchy, curt and impatient whenever I interacted with him thereafter.
Then there came the flea invasion. I liked to sit and work at the only place where there was a decent ‘view’ in the house available to me, i.e. in the kitchen/dining room looking out into the backyard. I soon began to notice tiny little red marks on my ankles and legs, and they itched like hell. The red bites soon progressed to my wrists. The itch was so bad and they were increasing, so I dashed off to the university health clinic to consult my doctor. Flea bites! Well, I am quite allergic to these things, and the doctor advised me to move out asap, or get the owner to clean up. I went back and told the owner. Remember, I had already given him a month’s notice. He looked at my ankles, legs and wrists with a stony face and shrugged, denying that the fleas were in his house because he and the other guy didn’t get bitten at all. And he just walked away. Anyhow, I persisted, I told him I was moving out earlier, that very Monday, instead of a month later, because of this issue. He said, “Ah, whatever!” and stormed off. A kind young friend happened to be in Sydney, and he helped me move into temporary university hostel lodgings. It was expensive, AU$80 a day, for one week, but I had no choice, I needed CLEAN accommodation asap! It was such a relief to have a clean loo, and no fleas. There were no more additional bites, proving that the fleas were indeed residing in the Dillon Street house, and my sores gradually healed, while I was at the hostel.
I should end here. This ad just popped up again recently. I guess his other tenant decided he/she had had enough and moved out too. It has been a year since. The ad remains the same. Misrepresentation. And some other person will soon fall for it too. Well, I learned a valuable lesson from this. At least one thing: make a checklist from the things advertised, and go through them when viewing. Ask questions. And don’t be too trusting of anyone even if they appeared friendly. One last thing. Try never to be desperate. It will show. And people will jump at the chance to manipulate that.
I still live here in Paddington, it is to me the loveliest area to live in! I think I’ve seen the chap once, while I was walking Lucy but he looked away and pretended he didn’t see me. I wouldn’t have said hello, in any case!