People can be so rude. More than a dozen prospective tenants made appointments to see a vacant room in my flat but only half of them have turned up. Yet most of those no-shows have not had the decency to call or text to say they're not coming.
So far, over the past two weeks, I reckon I've wasted a total of three hours and 23 minutes hanging around for viewers who never arrive. A couple of them have got as close as 100 metres to the property before texting me to say they're not coming any further because they don't like the area. I could understand this if I hadn't stated clearly in the adverts on Gumtree and spareroom.co.uk that the flat was on a council estate. What did they expect?
When I advertise the flat I always give a detailed, honest description of the room, the flat and the area, but still people seem surprised to discover it's not Buckingham Palace when they get there. Fortunately I've bought a second-hand Vespa so at least I waste less time travelling for viewings. As the scooter can weave in and out of the traffic, the journey from my house takes only half as long as it does by car. I love my little Vespa.
One day I get a viewing just before tea time. The children are glued to The Simpsons so I leave them home alone as I expect to be gone less than 30 minutes. Sure enough, the viewing is over in 20 seconds but when I jump on the Vespa, it's dead. It won't kick start either. Useless piece of junk.
I have to run home before the kids call ChildLine, throw a takeaway on the kitchen table for their tea, tell them not to kill each other and dash back to the flat to do yet another viewing. Finally someone takes the room. She loves it, she says, and she happily gives me a cheque as a non-refundable holding fee until she moves in three days later. I go home, draw up a tenancy agreement and mail it to the tenant for her signature.
The day before the young woman is due to move in she calls to say she's lost her job, she can't afford to rent her own place any more and so she's going to live with her parents instead. Is she telling the truth or has she just changed her mind? I get her cheque out of my purse and argue with myself about whether to cash it. In the end, I decide to give her the benefit of the doubt and rip it up.
Later that same day another woman has spotted the ad I've put back up on Gumtree and says she wants to see the room straight away as she has to move out of her flat the following morning. I'm busy until the evening but she insists she has to see the room ASAP so I drop everything and show her around.
After the briefest of glances at the room the woman says she'll take it and arranges to meet me there early the next day with her deposit and first month's rent. Big sigh of relief.
The next morning I drop the kids at school before the gates are open (I know the head will tut) and rush to get to the flat on time. She's not there. An hour later, she still hasn't arrived. Thirty minutes later I get a text. "I'm not coming. Sorry." I want to cry.