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24 Feb 2008: The First



2008 has started and it's a kickin' year already. We've sunk one of our goals for this year - get a new place that is bigger and with a better commute. We've just signed a contract for a new place in Beckenham, Kent and are due to relocate in the next couple of weeks. We're pleased as Punch and Judy that we found something we really wanted within our first month of looking; we were expecting the whole process to take months.

Yeee-haw!

Still, I'm quite the cynic when it comes to renting, having been on the begging side of the tenant/landlord equation for years. On the landlord side, I'm aware that landlords are charged around 10% of the annual rent, which is a chunk of change. But there are plenty of stealth fees and costs that are bleeding through to the tenant side. Although key money was crushed years ago, there are contenders ready to step up. It goes without saying that there are administration fees that any agent worth their salt would charge the tenants. In addition, a credit reference check is paid for by the tenants themselves. And inventory? You could be charged for that too.

One month's notice could be stretched to two, which is potentially costly when you decide to move on. The days of rolling contracts are over, too: the agent will issue a Notice of Possession within days of the contract commencing, ensuring its untimely end, forcing you to draw up a new contract and - brace yourself - pay for more agency fees. Well, I suppose you could just walk out and get a different place, but don't worry, they'll have thought about that with "checking out" costs if you want to terminate the tenancy. But there's a new game in town, which took me by some surprise, just like my trousers being pulled down in front of everybody in the drama club (trust me, I've experienced that).

Some contracts are now requiring tenant's insurance that covers the landlord's fixtures, fittings and contents. There seems to be no justification for this from either the tenant's or landlord's point of view, as the deposit already deals with this. If I were concerned about losing the deposit, then the acquisition of said insurance should be my business. This simple addition to the insurance policy rules out all of the traditional insurance providers, forcing you down to just a handful - and seeking out those handful is an incredibly labourious process, as some insurance providers don't publish their sample policy wording without entering into a quotation first. And the handful are oddly expensive, because they are the only ones offering the policy.

Of course, the agent will offer you discounted insurance from one of special providers, saving you the effort of resolving the difficulty they introduced. Hmm. I wonder what the purpose of this insurance is. I leave it as an exercise for the reader.

Bonus Pictures

Ooh, managed to squeeze something in this year.

Hammerport Corner

Henry then got out his mobile and called Mum, to tell her about the dead woman he had found.

Life has just been a bit crazy, what with a new PC invading my life and refusing to behave like a civil member of society, and there has also been this whole moving from Essex to Kent thing. Hammerport has been severely underfunded in words recently. Only one entry has made it on this year, the first part of The Weeping Maw, which is the followup to the comic yet bleak finale of 2006, The Promise in the Cellar.

YouTube Corner

This is apparently two years old, but I only came across it recently. This is the excellent video for Jason Forrest's War Photographer created by Joel Trussell.