It’s 9am and I’m standing patiently in the offices of my favourite letting agent. I have several appointments today but before I can do anything I need to collect keys and paperwork from my clients.
Sometimes this is tricky for lots of reasons, inventories get misfiled, keys are already out with a contractor, (or in someone’s drawer or handbag) and can’t be found. This is why inventory clerks usually don’t book their first appointment until 10am.
I arrive at the property with minutes to spare to do a check-in. A middle-aged American couple are waiting impatiently, the husband pointedly checks his watch as I leap out of my car. I check mine too making sure he sees me – two can play at that game. My heart sinks at the sight of a large removal van and two burly men, sleeves rolled up at the ready, busting to get started. No pressure.
I smile politely and explain how long a check-in actually takes and why it’s important, naturally no-one is interested. Mr America just says through gritted teeth, “The agent said this would only take a few minutes.” He’ll be disappointed to hear that a couple of hours will be more accurate given this is a three bedroom fully furnished house and we have to work through every item on the inventory. It doesn’t take too long before both the tenants and the removal men are bored stiff and the house quickly fills up with the contents of the van. I just have to carry on the best I can or get lynched. There is no stopping a removal man who has had an early start and is looking for an early finish.
Check this out!
A vision of thirty-something manhood drifts down the stairs wearing only a hand towel.” Patricia Barber ISIS Property Inventories
My next job is a check-out at a nice executive apartment on the edge of town. I am looking forward to this one as I know the flats well and they are usually nice and straightforward. No-one answers my call on the security buzzer so I just let myself into the building – hoorah, correct keys and they actually work – a bonus. I knock on the flat door just in case and listen. No response means an empty flat – even better as far as I am concerned.
As I launch myself through the front door a vision of thirty-something manhood drifts down the stairs wearing only a hand towel.
“Is it that time already?” he grins. Naked tenants are far from unusual in our job so I focus on his eyes and smile politely. A quick glance around tells me that he has moved his personal stuff out so at least I can do the check-out without delay.
“I’ll start downstairs’, I say, trying to remain completely professional. “That will give you time to get sorted.” I have other tenants waiting so this one will just have to get his pants on fast.
By the time I have finished checking the inventory I know I have bad news to break to the tenant. The whole flat needs a full clean – obviously he wasn’t as fastidious with the property as he was with himself. He takes the news quite well, I don’t mention at this point that cleaners will probably cost him £20 an hour plus around £60 for the oven and heaven knows what for the carpets. I need to take his contact details for my report and can hardly contain myself when he gives his email address as – [email protected], very appropriate I think, hot male indeed!
Throughout the morning my phone has been ringing, clients wanting to book more appointments or needing answers to queries. Multi-tasking comes with the job, it’s amazing how fast inventory clerks learn to drive, talk on their hands free, write in their diary and eat lunch all at the same time.
Today, lunch has to wait. I need to pop back to see an agent who has come up with an urgent job. They forgot to book an inventory and the tenants are moving in tomorrow morning. Can I compile the inventory and have it typed up in time? Well, yes of course, I am an inventory clerk and I don’t need much sleep but I do need my clients, so dinner will have to wait too.
Drug dealers on the towpath
It’s 2pm and my next appointment is for a check-in at a new block of flats in the roughest area of town. Regeneration they call it, all the flats have views over the river but I don’t suppose the agent has told the tenant that they will also have a clear view of the local drug dealers plying their trade on the towpath. I’ll just keep the curtains closed until the end of the check-in.
The tenant is a young Spanish girl with little English. Fortunately I have spent many a holiday in Spain so we might survive. She tells me that she can’t go up to the flat until her new bed arrives. The van is already unloading but sadly she discovers that her king sized bed is too big for the lift. The delivery men say, rightly, that they are not paid to carry it up to the fourth floor. This causes an emotional outburst from the tenant who throws herself on the floor wailing. After much discussion and soothing I come up with a solution. I have the keys to the gym on the ground floor and suggest that we store the bed in there until she can get some help that evening. The tears stop flowing, the delivery men are happy and more importantly we can start the check-in.
The spice of life
An hour and a half later, I’m off to compile that emergency inventory. Dinner will have to be a take away since I need to get not only this one typed up but produce all the check-in and check-out reports for today’s jobs. Variety is the spice of life – mmm I can just taste that chicken tikka masala.
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