Stabbie is displeased

As you may all know, Stabbie is in a civil partnership with He Who Must Be Obeyed, or HWMBO. Just for background, that. Stabbie lives in a maisonette (=US duplex apartment) with a back garden (=US backyard), 3 bedrooms, a large eat-in kitchen, and a view of the Shard a-building at London Bridge out his back window.

Unfortunately, Stabbie also has rather upsetting neighbours. For some, it is not their fault, for various and sundry reasons Stabby will not bore you with. However, Stabbie is more concerned about the housing association’s response to his requests for repairs. Below Stabbie has written about three of his current problems with the housing association, and put them behind a cut because they are VERY. LONG. INDEED.

The flat above Stabbie and HWMBO’s has a very sweet lady living in it who is a refugee and has had a hard time of it. She has stopped throwing used insulin pen needles, used insulin vials, and mirrors (two) into Stabbie’s back garden, although her care worker denied that she was even a diabetic. This is good. However, her heating system is seriously defective.

Now you wouldn’t think that Stabbie would care about her heating system, but perhaps a description of the problem will help. The heating system, filled with water, is kept topped up by a system quite like a toilet tank. That is, this tank, higher than any of the radiators, is filled with water and as water evaporates out of the radiators, the tank supplies water to the radiators and the tank is kept at a constant level by a system not unlike the ballcock in a toilet tank. When the water gets to a certain level, the ballcock floats up and turns the tap off.

When this system malfunctions, and the tap doesn’t turn off, there is a safety system. An outlet pipe leads from the top of the tank out through the flooring, ending up as a short pipe on the back wall. Any excess water drips out through this pipe and drops to the ground outside. This is OK for occasional drips.

How does Stabbie know this? A while back HWMBO reported that the towels in the airing cupboard (=US “linen closet” that contains not only linen but also some of the heating and hot water systems) were wet. When Stabbie investigated, he found that water was dripping out of this tank at the top of the cupboard and called the housing association, who sent someone within a day or two. The someone replaced the tank, connected the outlet, and explained exactly what the tank is used for. That’s how Stabbie knows what’s happening.

When the ballcock system malfunctions, however, the dripping becomes constant, and frequent. This is what the back wall of Stabbie’s flat looks like.

It looks like some giant duck defecated down the side of the house. Now I present you with a close-up of the windowsill of my study, the lower level of the previous picture.

Mildewed and damaging the wooden window frame through water rot.

When Stabbie is sitting at his study window working away assiduously at the computer, and wants a bit of air, he opens the window. The spattering is so frequent now that when the drops hit the windowsill, Stabbie is sprayed with a fine mist. If Stabbie goes outside to enjoy the back garden, he must take care that he is not dripped upon, as the wind takes the drips an amazing distance from the house when it is blowing in other directions.

So Stabbie has pointed this situation out to (1) the director of the housing association, who agreed to have it looked at several months ago, and (2) the maintenance director of the housing association, twice, who assured Stabbie that a maintenance person would be here to fix it in a day or two. However, the nice lady in the flat does not respond to their phone calls or letters, and she doesn’t know much English, so Stabbie can’t get through to her that something which doesn’t cause her any bother needs to be fixed, pronto.

So Stabbie is a virtual prisoner in the flat, unable to keep the window open without being misted upon and unable to sit outside with his netbook, surfing and enjoying a libation in the afternoon, when the sun is over the yardarm.

Stabbie, however, is not sure who to hold to account here. The lady upstairs is fragile, for many reasons, and he wouldn’t like to hold her responsible for this. The housing association people have tried all the conventional ways of getting in touch with the lady, and she does not respond. Stabbie thinks that perhaps the care worker needs to be contacted and asked to make the lady understand that her heating system needs repair. If this doesn’t happen, Stabbie may talk to the Chair of the housing association, who is someone Stabbie works with on various churchy committees and bodies. He may find it interesting that the housing association is unable to properly maintain flats occupied by people who need assistance with some of their daily requirements. He would be the effective instrument of what has, up to know, been Stabbie ineffective pleas for help.

But, of course, this is not the only bone which Stabbie has to pick with his landlord. A couple of weeks ago, the lights in the common hallway were not working. Stabbie thought that there was some maintenance problem, and duly reported it to the housing association, which promised to get onto the people who maintain the common area lighting, the fire extinguishers, and the fire alarm. Nothing happened. Stabbie doesn’t go out every night, but when he does, he likes to have some light in the hallway so that he can get his key in the door and ensure that no nefarious characters are lurking around.

Then, Stabbie received a card in his letterbox saying that a package had been taken back to the Post Office because Stabbie was out of the house. Problem was, Stabbie was at home all day that day. A friend came over for a coffee, and called Stabbie’s mobile and said, “Where are you? I’ve rung your doorbell several times and you haven’t answered.” Stabbie replied that he was at home and would let his friend in.

Stabbie suspicions were piqued at this, and he got his keys out and looked in the common area cupboard, where the electric meters, circuit breakers, and an amazing amount of bumpf are kept. Sure enough, someone had switched one of the circuit breakers off (it hadn’t tripped; it was positively turned off). This particular circuit breaker not only energized the lights in the common hall, but also the intercom and the door buzzer. Our doorbells were silent.

Now Stabbie would like to have a word with the designer of the electrical system in the building. What fool puts emergency lighting on a circuit with anything else, including the intercom system? The housing association, when Stabbie told them about this system, just shrugged its collective shoulders and said there was nothing it could do. Well, there bloody well is something they could do. Stabbie will start by pinning the designer to the wall by the shoulders of his jacket and keeping him there until he agrees that he is a nincompoop and not fit to design anything more complicated than a piece of paper.

Now of course there is another, perennial complaint that Stabbie makes. Outside the front door, at the corner of the car park, is the rubbish enclosure. It has enough room for three bins (=US “dumpsters”) which consist of two rubbish bins and a recycling bin.

Unfortunately, Stabbie’s neighbours include one who removed all the carpeting in her apartment and replaced it with wooden flooring. During the past three weeks, a large quantity of construction material has been placed in the bins each week on Tuesday, the day after Trash Day. The bins are thus filled to the brim for 6 days a week.

The rest of Stabbie’s neighbours, then, place their trash, sometimes even in bags, on the ground inside the rubbish enclosure. They also dispose of refrigerators, baby strollers, and various other detritus in the enclosure, then neglect to ask the council to remove them; they cannot be lumped in with the regular trash. The binmen (=US “garbage collectors”) usually do not pick up these bags, and rats, squirrels, and probably people open up the bags and look for edibles or saleables, leaving the rest of the trash to spill out onto the ground.

No matter how much Stabbie asks the landlord to get his regular cleaners to pay some attention to this area, they simply mop the stairwells and leave. Occasionally they pick up some trash, and there was one short period where they were very assiduous about it two days in a row. However, the cleaners came and went on Tuesday, leaving the trash area like this:

And the bin men have neatly replaced the recycling bin so that its opening is nicely butted against one of the trash bins, so that most people cannot place their recycling into the slot at the front of the recycling bin.

Stabbie wants his neighbours and the housing association to know that he is not pleased. If he catches the neighbour who insists on throwing his trash bags on the ground, there might be something else in one of those trash bags that is much worse than trash.

Thanks for listening to Stabbie rant and rave. He hopes that these situations will rectify themselves shortly. Now, as you were!

5 Responses to “Stabbie is displeased”

  1. momshapedbox says:

    WOW! This is serious stuff. My heart goes out to you…keep us informed of any outcome.

  2. spwebdesign says:

    You consider the living room a bedroom?

  3. chrishansenhome says:

    No, there are three bedrooms upstairs, of which two are used as bedrooms and the third as a storage rooml

  4. spwebdesign says:

    That room is big enough for a bed? 😉

  5. chrishansenhome says:

    A single bed fits fine. We have housed people in there for short periods of time before it got so cramped and crowded that it was no longer useful.