One day, as our search continued, we spotted a listing in a village in a different area. Bill sent the guy a message via the site, but when he got no reply, he called. The guy—I’ll call him Dick2—said that someone would be looking at the place the following day, but he would call and let Bill know one way or the other. We did not believe this and indeed, he did not call. The listing came down. We assumed it had been rented.
A few weeks later, it was back. We happened to see it within the first minute of it being listed and Bill called immediately. It was a Monday. Dick2 told Bill to call back Friday to set up a viewing time on Saturday. This happened and on Saturday we found ourselves riding to Village in hopeful anticipation.
As we turned the corner onto the road, we had our first sinking feeling. There was a site notice informing readers that planning permission had been sought for the construction of two new apartment units on the site. We’d been hoping to get away from construction. Dick2 was all smiles and I immediately felt my guard go up. There was a sense of distrust and caution. We proceeded to go in and look at the place. One thing that had concerned us was that the listing said smoking was allowed. We wondered whether there would be lingering smoke smells in the furniture. We were happy that there were not. We both liked the place and we went out and said we’d take it. We chatted. He asked when we wanted to begin the lease. We said in a few weeks. We had to give 6 weeks’ notice at Dungloe and while we knew we’d have to pay for both places for a time, we tried to keep that time as brief as we could. But he correctly pointed out that he could get someone in there right away. Furthermore, he said, people were begging to give him money immediately for a place up the road he had available. We agreed to start right away and he said he’d call back in an hour to let us know. I knew he wouldn’t call back in an hour, but I carried my phone around as we walked around Village, waited for the bus, and rode back to the main town. We were in the grocery store buying some yogurt when he called and said we could rent it, but could we start in a week and a half. We were happy, but I had a nagging unease. Nevertheless, when we got home, I emailed and gave notice.
We waited for the copy of the lease Dick2 said he would send in the post. Finally, a few days later, it appeared as an email attachment. It was late when I read it, but even though it had been a long day and I was tired, the alarm bells going off in my head were impossible to ignore. It was 15 pages long and began with a HUGE font warning readers that THIS IS A LEGAL DOCUMENT and going on from there. It contained a lengthy list of the various reasons he could sue us. It laid out weird restrictions, like no burning of candles. Smoking was fine, but no candles, which according to him leaves residue on walls. I have moved into a house (not a rental and not in Ireland) that was filthy with smoker’s gunk on the walls, but have never had a candle issue. There was a line in there about how additional charges could be imposed at any time, even after the signing of the lease. Should we decide to leave before the lease was up, we would be responsible for the payment of the rent until the end of the lease period and he would sue for damages. The whole thing seemed designed to trip up the tenants and squeeze as much from them as possible. There was so much not to like, but one thing that I found even more bizarre was the bit about how, upon vacating the property, we would have to show proof of a TV license and proof of payment for as long as we’d lived there, to a company I did not recognize. I looked it up and saw that it had been a cable TV company.
I composed an email to Dick2 stating some of our concerns. This was written off the top of my head as it was late and I was tired. I closed with a statement about how we would speak further about when to sign the lease after the questions were answered. After I sent it, I got curious about this TV company, so I looked into it further. I discovered that the company has not existed since 2006! When I sent the email, I had asked about this, because we don’t watch TV and had no plans to pay for a service we wouldn’t use. There was a TV in the place, which I would have asked to have removed, but even if he was unwilling to do that, we had the license, so that wouldn’t have been a problem. But to be required to pay a non-existent company or forfeit the deposit crystalized things for me. I decided that if Dick2 had answers, I would listen to him, but they would have to be really good answers and he would have to provide them in writing. Changes would have to be made to the lease.
The following day, we heard nothing from Dick2, but we talked about it. We both had more concerns than we’d had the night before. By the end of the day, we’d agreed that we would not be signing the lease. Neither of us would have felt comfortable living there for many reasons. We would always feel like Dick2 would be waiting to catch us putting a big toe in the wrong place and swooping in to impose some kind of penalty. I decided I would listen to his answers, raise more concerns, listen to what he had to say about those, and then most likely tell him we would not be willing to sign the lease. As it happened, he never responded. And for us, having given our notice, the clock was ticking.