To Build A Home

This past week has been pretty eventful, and a lot of it was thanks to our new landlords. Last Saturday, I went into Melbourne with Allen and Viola (my old housemates). They were getting their car fixed so they had to leave early in order to get to the mechanic on time. We must have gotten to Melbourne around 10:30 or 11, so we decided to get some lunch after dropping off the car. We

Bubble Tea with Allen and Viola

stopped at a restaurant for roast duck, which was so good! Afterwards, we went to have bubble tea for dessert. While we were sitting there, it started POURING rain – even an umbrella wouldn’t help keep us dry! We decided to stay safe in the bubble tea restaurant for an hour or two, while we waited for the car to be ready for pickup. By the time the car was ready to get picked up (around 2:30pm), the rain had stopped so we were able to walk back to the garage and pick up the car. We then went to an outlet mall to check out some of the shops and then we headed to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, where we were meeting with some other people from work (there were ten of us in total). We paid 32.80 each (a bit more expensive than Saskatoon) and got to eat as much as we wanted. All-you-can-eat sushi was a bit different as well. Instead of having a menu of different types of sushi to order, the menu just had different types of food, which had a sushi platter included in the menu. However, I ended up getting full SO fast because it was the first time I was putting so much meat, gluten, and dairy in my body at once – I don’t think my body was used to it. It was all really good though, and I ended up trying a lot of foods that I probably wouldn’t have ordered myself. On Sunday, Gabi and I spent the entire day inside because it was pouring rain again. I decided to just have a lazy day since there wasn’t much else that I could do.

On Monday, it was back to the regular workweek! That evening, I got a message from Allen asking if there was any space left in my new house. Apparently Ali was accusing them of stealing money, as well as Chloe’s cell phone (that she loses everyday). One of the new girls that had moved in had set aside $200 for rent and deposit but then when she went to get it, it had disappeared. Ali then went to the girl and said that she thought Allen and Viola had stolen it from her! I couldn’t believe this woman – it’s like she wants everyone else to be just as miserable as she is. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that everyone in that house is now looking for somewhere new to live, so hopefully they all find somewhere soon! On Tuesday during my break, I had received a message from the landladies (at 8:30am) stating that they had done a surprise inspection and that they weren’t happy with the state of the house. They said that the heater had been left on (which I was confused about since all of us were wearing jackets while eating breakfast cause it was so cold – but I later found out that some of the guys had turned it on after we all left, and they forgot to turn it off before going to work), they also said that there were dishes left on the side of the sink (which were clean and drying), there were flies in the kitchen (we’ve been complaining about bugs all week because everyone has been getting bites since we’ve moved in, and the response was “if you’re not happy, you can leave), and the floors were filthy. The worst part about the message was the passive-aggressive comment, “I can come and show you how to use the vacuum and mop if you want.” They said we had a week to fix this up before we would be inspected again, which I wasn’t impressed about. Combining that message with the news about Ali, I was extremely upset that day. I don’t know if I was just tired or if I was actually bothered by it, but I was fighting back tears during my lunch. I think that everything came crashing down because I had been living at Ali’s for the past two months and I finally escaped to what I thought would be a nice, relaxing place to live, only to end up getting harassed from our landlords after being in the house for just one week. I decided that I’d talk to all of the other housemates and then I’d write a group message

Roast Duck

back to the landladies on behalf of everyone. Little did they know, this isn’t my first rodeo – I’ve dealt with a few nightmare landlords in the past (for those of you who need a refresher, feel free to go back to the London posts of my blog!). Everyone else was just as shocked as I was about the message, and we all didn’t think it was messy. I rage-wrote a full page of a text message (which is what I do best), and then got the rest of the house to read it before I sent it in the group message. I decided to keep it polite (as I didn’t want to make things hostile and uncomfortable while living here), but I also decided to call a spade a spade when necessary. For those of you who want to read the message, I’ve copied it below. For those of you who don’t want to read it, feel free to scroll past 🙂

“I hate confrontation, but I feel like if this is a message that we’ve received after living here for only a week, something has to be said. All of the tenants have just talked to each other and we were all quite surprised to receive that message this morning. In regards to the dishes, all of the dishes that were there were clean but there wasn’t enough room on the drying rack. Unfortunately, the towels that have been provided don’t dry the dishes – they merely spread the water around on the dish. However, we have now bought our own dish towels so hopefully this will help solve the problem. I was quite surprised to read the comment about the two flies in the kitchen because when the problem of ants in the kitchen was brought up, the response was that “it’s nature.” We agree that the flies are annoying – perhaps the duct tape has not fixed the screen properly. I do have to say that we were all surprised about the rule stating monthly inspections with no notice. In all of our countries, the landlord has to provide 24 hours notice before entering the property. I thought that maybe it was different in Australia but upon looking at the Tenants Union Victoria website, it states that the landlord must 
“give you at least 24 hours’ written notice of their intention to visit, stating the reason they want to visit.”
I also read that if you give proper notice, a landlord can enter the premises if “they want to inspect the premises (provided there has been no inspection within the last 6 months and it is not within the first 3 months of the first tenancy).” 
I think that we have all come to a mutual agreement that we feel uncomfortable knowing that someone is going through our home without anyone being there, as it feels like an invasion of privacy. We are all hard-working individuals who want somewhere to relax when we get home from work and we want to express that we would never trash the place that we live in, as none of us want to live in a pigsty. We all believe that we are living in a respectful manner and we are doing our best to keep it clean, but I think that it is unfair to come in when most of us have left the house by 6am and therefore do not have the time in the morning to make sure the house is completely clean. We are all good people; we are grown adults and we don’t need to feel like we are being babysat in our own home. It has only been a week and many of us have felt uncomfortable asking for anything because the last time some of the problems were brought up, the response was, “If you’re unhappy, then you can leave.” I don’t think any of us deserve to be spoken to this way, and I think that there should be respectful landlady/tenant relationship, which is what we all want! I just want to add that Leanne, you have been nothing but kind and friendly to everyone and we appreciate that. Maybe if there are any more problems and you would like to reiterate certain rules, we would be open to having a house meeting one evening to discuss everything. Thank you!”
Everyone out for sushi
I sent the message in a group message, but for some reason, it sent to everyone individually so then it just ended up looking like I wrote the landladies on my own (just so everyone knows, my landlords are two ladies (Jo and Leanne) who work together at the bank). One of the girls (Mei) also wrote one of the landladies, and Gabi wrote saying that she agreed with my message. The landladies wrote back quite quickly – the first reply (from Jo) was quite nice and just said that the house was completely redone so they just want to make sure it’s taken care of (which is understandable). The second reply (from Leanne) was a bit more aggressive, saying that when she was in the house to set up the internet, she thought that the kitchen was filthy and she wouldn’t be able to handle living like that. Then she just said if we’re okay with how it is, then it’s not a problem. We all felt a lot better after receiving the messages from them, and I think it helped clear the air.
On Wednesday at break, I received another message from the landladies, saying that, “Since I seemed to be the spokesperson for the rest of the house, could I pass the message on.” They said that they only had to give notice if they were inspecting our rooms, but the common areas were their property so they would continue to inspect it to make sure that it’s at a standard that they would expect (which still seems weird to me, as in Australia, you can apply for a restraining order from your landlord if they harass you too much and don’t allow you to live peacefully, and this seems to be overstepping that limit). They also said that if Jo hadn’t come in, the heater would have been left on all day (which actually isn’t true, because one person is still looking for work so he was still home all day) and it isn’t responsible adult behaviour. They said that if the cleaner had come in, she wouldn’t have been able to do anything except wash the floors, and stated that they could cancel the cleaner if we were happier setting up our own cleaning roster. I just wrote back and said that we could arrange to make sure the dishes are put away on the day that the cleaner comes. Later that night, I wrote Leanne asking what day garbage pickup was (because on our house rules, it just said that it was weekly, but it didn’t specify a day). She wrote back saying, “It’s on the house rules. It was this morning.” I politely responded that it actually wasn’t on the house rules but thanks. I think the problem with Warragul is that EVERYONE is looking for a place to live all the time (the tomato farm has 320 employees and most of them are here temporarily), so landlords don’t care how they treat their tenants since they know that they’ll be able to find a replacement quite easily. I’m hoping that after this week, the landladies will slow down with the messages because otherwise, I might have to join Allen and Viola with

My coworkers, Judy and Akane

looking for a new place!

Anyway, the rest of the workweek was fine. Unfortunately, we worked too fast again so we were done our work by the end of Thursday. Luckily, our supervisor found some other work for us to do until lunchtime on Friday, which was when we were sent home. Our hours keep getting shorter and shorter each week so hopefully they’ll start picking up again soon. Next week, our start time changes to 7am so we’ll get an extra half hour of sleep! Now it’s time for the weekend and I’m superexcited because tomorrow, I’ll be going to Melbourne to meet up with Katie. Hope everyone’s doing well! Love always
To Build A Home – The Cinematic Orchestra

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