The Renter Rant

Actually, it is less of a rash rant and more of a polite prattle.

And that is the point.

It is strange to be a renter at my age.  I feel as if I have returned to my younger days out of college in NY.  The dynamic between landlord and renter is always fraught.  Mine is no different.

Except that I live in England.  And, therefore, the direct approach to problem solving is not effective.  Back in my CT home, there was no drama to home repairs.  I simply made a call, explained the problem, and someone came on command to fix it.

Here, every small problem involves at least three lengthy emails with my landlord just to set a plan in motion, not to actually DO anything.  Each note is a cordial correspondence dripping with pleasantries:

 Good afternoon…..I hope you are well….if it suits….could we sort out….most appreciated….with best regards….

Yet, the polite tone does little to hide the ripple of frustration lying beneath the smooth surface.  Every now and then a bit of rage surges out of the seemingly calm waters like the explosive “pop” of a bubble and then quickly sinks and dissolves in the placid depths beneath.

Here are a few excerpts from a recent correspondence:

Good morning Mr. Gupta,

I thought it would be a good idea to outline what I expect will be accomplished this Monday.  As you know, this will be the third time over two weeks that this appointment has been re-scheduled.  I expect it will actually happen this time!

1) Replace the broken shade in master bedroom
2) Replace light fixture that is broken in bathroom
3) Electrician to fix the ceiling outlets that no longer work, new bulbs do not work in these sockets

On a separate note and as I have mentioned to you before, we are having problems with water pressure and temperature in all bathrooms.  The person from British Gas that was sent told me “I am not a plumber and cannot help you”.  I would appreciate if you would find a qualified plumber to come and FIX the problems once and for all.  These have been on going since September.

Thank you,


Dear Cathy,

I will let you know by email when British Gas will come and if no one is at home to let them in, then you will then need to arrange your own engineers to sort the issues and pay them yourself. What I will not do is go back and forth like a tennis match to get you and British Gas to agree on an appointment that suits you both…

(the calm water ripples….the bubble rises to the surface and…POP!!)

I have spent a lot of time, money and effort to make your stay in the house as pleasant as possible.  Obviously its not enough for you. I am also tired of receiving emails when you have issues.  It is clear that you are not happy.  Please be free to terminate the contract. I will have no such problems finding another tenant for the property. What I do not want is for you to be unhappy and for me to be stressed out.

Good day,

Mr. Gupta


Good afternoon Mr.  Gupta,

Let me assure you I remain happy in your property and appreciate the steps you have taken.  I don’t think we correspond weekly, but this last cancellation forced an interaction.

The kitchen lights remain from the last time the guys came to the house and then left claiming I was not there when I was actually home!  The plumbing is a separate issue. I am happy to work with British Gas if they have plumbers on staff. Would it suit for me to offer you several dates that are free for me?  I agree that a “tennis match” of rallying emails is not productive and would be annoying!

I hope this clarifies everything. Let me know.

Thank you,



Dear Cathy,

Hope you are well. Thank you for your email.

Firstly, I want to let you know how much I appreciate the way you take so much care of the house. I know you treat it as if it was your own. I thank you for this. I also do not want you to leave, in fact , I want you to have a pleasant stress-free stay. I have in the past and in the future will try to look after you to the best of my ability…

(and we return to the calm waters…)

With best regards,

Mr. Gupta


And on and on it goes in a schizophrenic loop!  Needless to say, I still don’t have my electrical or plumbing issues anywhere near resolved!

I was regaling a friend of mine with this story and she started laughing out loud as she exclaimed, “How very British of you!”  The reserve and civility is indeed so very British.  As with the stiff upper lip that barely masks the underlying emotion, our pleasantries are part of our charade cloaking our palpable agitation.

We banter rather than bicker.  Ramble rather than rage.

And so, we will resume our “tennis match”, volleying emails in an endless rally.


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