Landlords, take note of that last bit and if you fall into the trap of thinking everything's fine, remember that something has almost definitely gone wrong — but you just don't know about it yet.
For two months I heard nothing from my new tenants so I let myself believe that everything was okay. It wasn't. When I popped round to let the gas engineer in for the annual boiler check I was horrified - and I mean horrified - to see a baby pigeon in a nest on the balcony.
You might not think one little bird is that big a deal but spend an entire day scrubbing pigeon poo off your balcony, then tell me it's not a problem.
Good grief, I'd tried everything to keep those ruddy birds away yet they'd broken through every line of defence. A set of spikes didn't work - they gave them somewhere nice to perch, thanks very much - and I even grew tomato plants on the balcony when I read that they hate the smell but that didn't put them off, either. Finally the council, which is the estate's landlord, came and erected netting right across the back of the property, which I thought had done the trick. Obviously it hadn't. The pigeons had pushed their way through and on my balcony was a chick snuggling into a scrappy nest in the corner.
I called the council to ask them to send pest control round to repair the netting and the chap in the estates office promised they would dispose of the chick. I emailed the tenants to let them know but one replied that, as they were vegans, they wouldn't be happy for pest control to actually kill this bird. Why not? I wasn't suggesting they ate the damn thing.
The tenants' spokeswoman said they wanted to leave it until it was old enough to fly away. But the problem with pigeons is that they don't go away, or rather they are programmed to keep coming back.
I admit the baby was cute, but it would grow, in time, to become a big, ugly pooing bird with an incessant coo that would keep everyone awake through the early hours. If allowed to live, it would lay eggs of its own on the balcony, which would mean more pigeons strutting all over the place.
As a landlord, I have to ensure my property is free from vermin, and pigeons, even little fluffy ones, are a health hazard. Some believe that they spread respiratory infections to humans (including vegans) and even if they don't, they are noisy, dirty and they smell, so this one had to go.
One of the tenants promised to remove the chick herself and, true to her word, she dealt with it that night. She didn't say how and I suspect she released it into the wild where doubtless it slowly starved to death unless it was eaten by a fox, but she seemed happy and I didn't care. No hate mail, please, pigeon lovers. I was more concerned that the council failed to live up to its promise and repair the netting. Every day I called, every day they said someone would pop round, but no one ever came. I should have known, as I had to nag them for months to put up the netting in the first place.
Look up the dictionary definition of "council" and you'll see it means "a body of people elected or appointed to waste taxpayers' money".