I feel so lucky and grateful to have been able to buy a place in Brighton but it has been a bit of a mission trying (and failing) to get any of the deposit we paid at our old flat from our ex-landlady and it has brought quite a big life lesson to me.
You see, the flat we rented for 4 years was fully furnished and obviously over the time we lived there, some items became a bit scruffy and others were in a bit of a poor state when we left the flat (think 10 year old ikea drawers that had started to break etc.).
I knew we wouldn’t get all our deposit back but nevertheless, I was so shocked when our ex-landlady told us that we would only be getting £5 back of the £780 deposit we had given her at the start of our tenancy. I mean, sure there was some damage, but £780 worth of damage?! I don’t think so.
I am not proud of how I felt and what I wanted to do after she told us we’d be getting no money back – I wanted to rage at her, send her horrible e-mails, confront her and call her all names under the sun. Hell, I wanted to light a flaming bag of poop on her doorstep for her to find, stamp out and be covered in sh*t. I’m not proud of myself but it’s how I felt!
It was Gregg, my husband, who kept my dignity in tact as he encouraged me to respond assertively with our point of view but to do it amicably and with kindness.
I’m sooooo glad I did this! A few days after our last correspondence with her about the deposit, we realised we had not cancelled the direct debit for paying our rent at the old flat and so had continued to pay her rent for 2 months after our tenancy had come to an end.
If we had been horrible and difficult and hateful, I would have found it incredibly difficult to go back to her and request the return of our money. Instead, I felt we had the high ground and it was easy for us to e-mail her and quickly resolve the issue. It made me think of the old quote:
“Act in haste, repent at leisure”
I’m not saying that we wouldn’t have been in our right to get the money back, but I would have known that I’d been a dick and that she could have made it really difficult for us to get back the money. As it stands, she has already put a cheque in the post (minus £30 in admin charges for having to look at her bank statement – I mean, really?!!?) so we’ll soon be able to draw this to a close and move on with our lives.
This experience has reaffirmed that, in my life, I’d always prefer to choose kindness and regret having been kind than to know I’d behaved in a manner that I was not proud of and regret that. I’d rather send my ex-landlady kindness than foster hate for her in my heart.
I’m sure this lesson (along with the lesson to make sure we take photos of any properties we rent and make sure we fully understand the terms of the contract!) will serve me well in the future.
I want to continue to be assertive but remember that I’d always prefer to respond with love and regret it than act out of anger. I’d rather regret kindness.