A viewer is so close to making an offer on my one-bed flat that I can almost smell the ink on the lease agreement... and then disaster strikes.
We’re still in the flat discussing the finer points of the contract when there’s a sudden loud thud on the ceiling. The viewer looks up, evidently a little startled. I hold my breath and pray it won’t happen again.
Then thud... thud... THUD.
The kids who live in the flat above are playing their favourite game, which is taking it in turns to jump off the sofa. I edge my viewer towards the front door, trying to get her out of the place as fast as possible because I know things are only going to get worse. Too late.
One of the little blighters yells that he’s hungry and there’s a stampede of feet overhead as several children rush into the kitchen, which, my viewer now can’t fail to notice, is directly above the bedroom of my flat.
Neither of us mentions the noise, instead I chat breezily over the top, but I can see she’s lost interest in the flat. Damn it.
Truth be told, the family upstairs are lovely and the outgoing tenant has nothing but great things to say about them, but kids are, well, noisy. I speak to a letting agent who has shown several people around my flat over the past month and she says quite a few have been close to putting in offers, but they’ve all been put off by the sound of the children clattering about over their heads.
I really ought to suspend viewings until September when the kids will be back at school, but the tenant leaves at the end of August so that will mean a void of at least one or two weeks.
Instead I’m tempted to do one of three things: pay for outings for the family every time anyone comes to look at the flat (expensive); bribe the kids to keep quiet (even more expensive, they’re a tough crowd), or offer viewers free earplugs.
Obviously the most sensible solution would be just to ask the kids to pipe down. I expect it would be quite stressful for their mum to keep them quiet, and anyway, whoever rents my flat needs to know there are three noisy children upstairs before they move in.
Imagine how cheesed off they’d be if they were to find out about them after they’d signed the lease.
Having noisy children as neighbours wouldn’t be such a problem if my flat was also designed for families, who might like having other kids in the building. But what child-free couple or singleton wants to live within earshot of other people’s kids?
In the long term we might have to discuss soundproofing with the owners of the upstairs flat, but in the meantime I suggest to the agent that she tells viewers my place is much quieter in term time and she can point out that at least they won’t have to worry about the neighbours pulling all-nighters.
The children are generally in bed by nine and the only music to be heard is the sound of the youngest straining to master the violin. We agree it’s probably better not to mention that last point.
The agent suggests dropping the asking price, although I point out that will only make the flat cheaper, not quieter. “It will get more people through the door,” she says.
“And increase our chances of finding someone who is stone deaf?” I ask.
“Maybe,” she says. “Maybe.”
* Victoria Whitlock lets three properties in south London