When we moved to Chester we were only able to spend two weekends house hunting, before we were due to move, so decided to rent, initially, rather than buy. Renting, we felt, would give us a better feel for the area. After viewing a handful of properties we settled on a small four bed roomed detached house, on an estate built just outside Chester, about 20 years ago. A detached house makes it sound rather grand but it was a shoe box really, as were all the houses on that estate. The fourth bedroom was only big enough for a bed, a small cupboard and a chair. What we were renting was a black and white, half timbered, mock Tudor house, in the aptly named Tudor Way. When giving the address to some one over the phone they said how grand it sounded. They were probably in a call centre in India and were just making conversation.
The business of renting itself was a bit of a culture shock to us. We had both owned property, albeit with a mortgage, for about 20 years. For me it was a bit like being a student again but my husband had never rented before, having lived at home until he moved into his flat. Any problems, and there were several, had to be channelled through the letting agent who would then contact the landlord, who was living abroad. We had been used to fixing things and sorting out problems ourselves. In a way it was nice to have someone else sorting out the workmen and paying for the repairs but it meant that we were not in control of things and some problems took longer than we would have liked to get fixed. Then there was always the possibility that we may have been responsible for the damage rather than it being wear and tear.
The first morning there my husband went off to work, leaving me to have a bit of a lie in before setting about organising the kitchen. About the first thing that happened was when I pulled back the shower room curtains and the pole fell down. The agents got it fixed but after that I do not think that I pulled those curtains over again. A week later I had gone outside to put some washing on the clothes line when the back door shut behind me and locked itself. I was locked out. Luckily one of the neighbours was at home and let me phone my husband who had to come home from work to unlock the house for me. The neighbours were very nice about it. They had had the same problem themselves when they first moved in. The locks were a bit flaky. Not long after that the front door lock became so stiff that we could not unlock the door. Again the agents got it fixed but they took their time about it.
For a few weeks everything went smoothly until one evening when I was grilling pork chops for our supper. Suddenly there was a bang and a flash and the house was in darkness. The grill element had fused all the electrics in the house and the oven no longer worked. I think that we had to go out to eat for a few days until the agents got a new oven sorted out for us. Thinking that we had had a hand in the demise of the grill element the suspicious landlord insisted that he old oven was left in the garage for him to inspect!
Not long before we moved out the curtain rail fell down in the living room when I pulled the curtains over. Really the whole house needed an overhaul. Nothing much had been done to it in the 20 years since it had been built, apart from the occasional coat of paint.
One problem that we did not manage to get sorted was the central heating boiler which heated the water up almost to boiling point and guzzled gas like there was no tomorrow. Even when it was switched off the boiler used gas. We had the biggest gas bills that we have ever had while we were living in this small rented house. I was just grateful that no elderly relatives or young children visited us whilst we were living there as I was afraid that they might scald themselves on the hot water.
We lived in the rented house for eight months until we moved into the cottage that we are now living in. And guess what - the cottage had been rented out before we bought it.