Real life

Real life

8 April 2017

9:00 AM

8 April 2017

9:00 AM

‘Information,’ came the reply. ‘We want information.’ The voice echoed in my head. Oh no. Oh please God, no. A month after going under offer again the new buyer hasn’t even booked a survey.

The emails from their lawyers come thick and fast demanding bits of paper. And just like the last time, I have supplied every last bit of paper in my possession, to no avail. The sticking point that is constipating this buyer is what they are calling ‘the leasehold information’.

Several weeks ago, when I accepted their offer on condition that it be a quick sale, I told them there was no ground rent, and the solicitor sent them a copy of the lease and the lease extension proving this with the Sellers Information Pack.

‘Yes,’ came the reply through the estate agent yesterday, ‘but they want the leasehold information.’

‘What leasehold information is that?’ I ask, as the chills go up and down my spine. ‘I mean, they’ve got the lease. So what, exactly, do they mean when they say they want the leasehold information?’

‘I don’t know,’ says the agent. ‘I will go back and ask them.’

It’s no use. Because when he asks them, all they say is, ‘We want the leasehold information.’

I may as well be running around Portmeirion in a navy blazer with white piping pursued by a giant white gelatinous bouncing blob. ‘What do you want?’ I scream at them each day.

‘Information,’ they say. ‘We want in-for-ma-tion.’

‘Whose side are you on?’


‘That would be telling. We want information…information…information…’

‘You won’t get it!’ I cry.

‘By hook or by crook we will!’

‘Who are you?’

‘I’m the new agent dealing with your property.’

‘Where is the lady who was dealing with my property last week?’

‘She’s on a training day, number 30.’

‘I am not a house number! I am a human being!’

Every day, I wake up in the same little flat and look out of the window and recoil in horror when I see the same south London street staring back at me. No! How am I still here?

I wouldn’t be surprised if a loudspeaker starts playing soon: ‘Good morning good morning good morning!’ And then the Radetzky march will blare out, as the good people of Lambeth in their brightly coloured Cath Kidston wellies walk their dogs to the Common chanting ‘Lovely day isn’t it!’ at me, as the parking wardens slap tickets on their cars for being parked slightly at the wrong angle.

‘I’ve got to get out of here!’ I shout, as I fling the curtains of my living room back to reveal the same regulation green and black bins in my front garden, tagged with warning notices informing me I am in violation of some environmental code or other for not placing them on the other side of my front wall.

A fox saunters past, laughing at me. ‘Got any chicken pieces?’ he smirks, because he knows I will have had the ‘What to do about foxes’ leaflet from Lambeth council telling me what foxes prefer to eat.

‘I am not a fox feeder!’ I scream. ‘I am a human being!’

But it is no use. They will not let me escape from this place.

The ‘sale’ of my house — I use the term lightly — has been going on for a year and for all I know it could go on for another year. Or another decade. Or possibly for the rest of my life as I go on supplying bits of paper. I am trapped. I cannot escape to the country. I will always be here, and yet not quite here, living out of a series of bags, my furniture in a lock-up in the Big Yellow Self Storage where it has been since I decluttered the flat to market it.

Of course it might be because of Brexit, or it might be the agent’s fault. Who can tell? Like changing queue, you can’t change estate agents.

I tried to change agents but the new agents who came round warned me that even if they found me a buyer, I would probably have to pay the old agent as well.

The only way to avoid that would be to get the agent I am with now to supply a list of every person who has ever inquired to them about my property while they have been marketing it so the new agent can refuse to show any of those people round. Because if they sell to anyone who has ever shown an interest in it while it was being marketed by the first agent that would incur double fees and possibly even a legal battle.

In other words, they could help me, but what they are going to need is information.

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