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Grant Management, a.k.a. the horror, the horror

Some of you will remember the trouble we had with our flat the first year I lived in Edinburgh. If you don't, you can refresh your memory here and here (both in Norwegian, I am sorry to say; but there are rather eloquent pictures in the first one).

Allow me to recap a little. We rented the flat from Grant Management (GM). This we were later to regret. And I am never touching anything of theirs ever again. See, after a while it turned out that not only was the whole flat rather shoddily done up, my room turned out to be a mould colony (refer to pictures linked above). I am asthmatic and had a very strong reaction to this mould, and armed myself with a letter from my doctor which very clearly stated that it was dangerous for me (as I maintain it would have been for anyone) to live there. I assumed they would fix it. They did not.

We went through some excruciating months of having long debates with them in the hall, trying to explain that the flat was not fit for human habitation. The only thing they consented to do about it was to paint over the mould, which meant it came back every two weeks or so, leading to new rounds with the evil corporate people at their office. The victory declared in the second article linked above was therefore far from complete. We worked very hard to get released from our contract.

In the end I tried to get someone to take over the flat from us (which we had always planned to -- we had signed a two-year lease because GM had assured us that there would be no problem getting someone to take over after one year), but it turned out (surprise) that people are less than enthusiastic about taking over a lease on a flat that is mouldy. When we confronted GM with this, they told us to get someone to take over the flat by not telling them that there was mould there (which could be done by having people come look at the flat just after they had sent someone on their bi-weekly painting-tour). We replied that if that wasn't illegal, it was certainly immoral -- but the man did not seem overly ashamed. Not a harakiri in sight.

It is fairly obvious in retrospect that that was what had happened before we moved in. There had been mould; they had painted over it. What is worse: it is clear that is still their policy. I have walked past our old flat lately, and you can tell from the outside that the whole wall is damaged by water. I feel for the people they tricked into taking it. I have toyed with the idea of ringing the bell and telling them about our experiences and how they would probably have a case against GM if they want to get out of the lease, as we can at least prove now that GM knew about the damage before someone else moved in. But I haven't quite been brave enough yet.

Anyway. We moved out, but were resigned to keep paying the rent on the place. In short, we gave up. Then, a couple of weeks after our departure, the roof caved in. I am not joking.

There was an attic above our flat. We had never been up there, as there was no easy way to do that. But it turned out someone had placed a bucket there. I can only imagine this was GM's idea of a solution to the problem of a hole in the roof. Well, Scotland can be fairly wet at times, and this bucket overflowed, covered the roof with water, causing it to finally give in. This meant GM could no longer claim that the flat was providing shelter from the elements (one of the very few clauses that will allow you to dissolve a GM contract (the person at the Council we talked to in order to get help to get out of this hell-hole told us they were fire-proof, and we came away with the understanding that we might as well have signed away our souls/firstborn/firstborn's soul). We therefore got out of the second year of our contract. No thanks to GM.

Now. I have told this story to a great many people.
In fact, whenever I hear that someone I know is looking for a flat, I tell them, in no uncertain terms

Whatever you do, stay miles away from Grant Management. They are horrible, bad, and will take your money while making your lives miserable.

And yet. What do I find but that two of my friends here in Edinburgh have taken ... wait for it ... a GM flat. The satisfaction of saying "I told you so" is outweighed by the dismay of
a) knowing that GM is getting money
b) knowing that people really do not listen to me
c) seeing friends go through the same shit we did.

The flat had been empty 11 months before they took it. One would think this would have been enough time for GM to fix the problems they had noted when the previous tenants moved out. Like the fact that more than half (I believe 5 out of 8) the appliances that came with the flat did not work. One such was the washing machine. It took them 5 weeks to fix it. The only compensation GM offered for this was refunding the money used once in a laundromat (my friends had relied on another friend's machine to wash their clothes). There was no lock on the bathroom door (despite the property being licensed for several people to live in the flat. And the pipes drained so slowly, the bath-tub was full of mud at the bottom. This is how GM lets you begin your relationship with them. I have already told you how it can end (and we still consider ourselves lucky).


Mary,  21.08.09 16:44

....I honestly really feel like I could have not read this and been much happier. Thanks for giving me something else to worry about! :P

Oh well. T&R are older than me, and I shall make them sort everything. :P

Camilla,  21.08.09 16:45

Good plan :D

Mary,  21.08.09 16:47

It probably won't stop the worrying, though. Have those initial problems been sorted, at least?

Camilla,  21.08.09 16:54

I think that is the good part to arriving late. I believe the washing machine, certainly, is now operational. And there is a lock on the bathroom door.

Tor,  21.08.09 18:04

This is very true. I would have thought that a serious, festering mould attack would be sufficient to be released from the contract, but apparently not in Scotland. Come to think of it, I don't know if it would have been in Norway either, I'm just applying my common sense.

Luckily, however, Tim will be a solicitor by the time they move out, so he should be able to handle them.

Tim,  21.08.09 18:09

Don't worry Mary – everything is fixed now. We're just trying to squeeze some money out of them for the inconvenience we've been put to.

Camilla: we used GM because they have a monopoly in this area. And because we know that all commercial letting agents are the same. The problems you and we have had could easily have occurred with any of the big names. While that obviously doesn't excuse them, it does mean that going with GM rather than e.g. Rettie wasn't such a terrible decision on our part.

Also, we thought that you guys basically got a bad deal because you and your flatmates were foreigners and students, and GM feels they are entitled to rip off such people. Being decent hard-working, tax-paying folk, not to mention native-English speakers, we figured we'd do better. And to be honest, we have – no walls have yet caved in.

If you're too nervous to knock on the door (and let's face it, who wouldn't be?), why don't you write a letter addressed to "The Occupiers"? You're very good at expressing yourself in writing. Tell them that if they want to sue GM about the mould, you'll bear witness to the fact that they were aware of it during the previous tenancy and did nothing. And that they tried to persuade you to act illegally as their accomplices by not telling prospective tenants about the mould.

Incidentally, do you want to see my complaint letter?

Yours, Tim.

Camilla,  21.08.09 19:29

Tim: No walls have caved in -- yet. It didn't happen until 9 months in with us either.

As for GM being no worse: that is not what the Council lawyer told us. He singled them out as bad eggs (or a bad egg) with particularly vicious contracts and track record. I have no doubts they were very happy to take advantage of our position as foreigners -- that is probably why they only offered us a two-year contract.

And I would be happy to see the complaint letter. You can post it here if you like. I like complaints letters, and Calcuttagutta has a precedent of publishing them. I probably should go with the letter option. I just have to gather some courage first.

Tim,  27.08.09 09:46

Sorry, didn't see this before. You really need some kind of reply notifier thingy...

I may post that letter once I get a response, actually. I got a reply yesterday which said "Unfortunately our director has decided not to pay compensation on this occasion". I asked if they were going to send me an actual response rather than just a brush-off, and while they seemed kind of surprised that someone would want this, they agreed. So I should have this soon.

Also, Rebekah is away this evening, so I'll have the computer all to myself and will finally have a chance to write articles about the ballet and the Amanda Palmer concert.


Camilla,  27.08.09 10:45

The only solution is to check Calcuttagutta ever day, Tim.

But yes, we ended up resorting to having them sign for letters we gave them so that they couldn't pretend they hadn't received them.

Tor,  27.08.09 16:26

Interestingly, Grant Management has popped up in conversations with two of the people I am currently sharing an office with, and they have both heard horrible stuff.

Camilla,  27.08.09 16:45

Huh. Interestingly, I came across another blog while fuming after having recalled to memory the horror that was GM (I have spent the last couple of years repressing), and for good measure I posted the same observations there as I had here. And Peter Grant responded. He also dropped his e-mail for me to pass on to my friends who are having trouble, in case they are not making headway with "the team", and so Tim: in case you need it.
Here is the blog.
Grant Management