Friday, February 24, 2012

The saga of the apartment block

I’ve mentioned before our increased concern about apartment living. It seems that in England you can run a business from your apartment and put whatever random little garden knick knacks into the communal hallways. Sounds crazy to an American, right? Yup, thought so.

We own these flats, just as we would a condo in Florida, but the difference is that in Florida we were never allowed to have anything in the breezeways because of fire or tripping hazards. Also, the idea of openly running your beauty salon in an apartment or condo would be flat out illegal.  There would be fines and fees and licenses and zoning restrictions and any number of regulations that would keep a home a home and a business a business.

Sadly, once we realized that we are living four feet from such a business, we immediately contacted our overseers.  Much to our surprise, the reaction was very blasé – “The hallways are communal.  Everyone can use them to put anything they want in them.”  Huh? This lady has left her brochures outside that have price lists for group beauty treatments that cost thousands of dollars. She has people coming in and out of that place all the time, messing around the hallway all day, yet we’re told, “she’s might just be a social person.” Um, no. These are clients.

When we contacted the City Council about the fact that a beauty salon is being run in the apartment  the reaction was, “Oh, that’s fine as long as she doesn’t have ten people coming over each day.”  What?  What kind of rule is that?

Weekly we hear more and more people coming and go, being chatted to in the hallway (remember this whole block is enclosed so we hear/see/smell everything in everyone else’s flat.") There are new plants, pictures, vases, chairs, rugs, signs, mirrors, statues, random garden junk, etc. every time we turn around. The other night we discovered that the neighbour put a magazine rack in the entryway to the block so her clients can wait outside our door in the waiting room. Oh yeah, there’s a waiting room outside of our front door.  I come home and some random stranger is just sitting in a little cutesy heart-shaped chair. Freaky.

And we don’t have a say over this.  We contacted the overseer again this week and got the same kind of, “Well, this doesn’t seem like a big deal – just a difference in tastes regarding decoration. No fire hazard or cause for a fuss,” response. It seemed like we were making a mountain out of a molehill when, really, if anyone saw what was going on would be just as shocked as we are.

So by not having any rights to keep someone from taking over the whole block of flats with her beauty salon, we’re going to have to deal with it until we’re able to move out in the future. For now we’re going to have to think up some ways to take a stand without causing some full blown neighbourhood war.

Some days I wish the kids who threw the drunk parties lived upstairs again. They would handle that like they did the back door – with a swift kick to break the whole thing down.

The bottom line is, it’s just frustrating. I can’t find work so we can’t find a nice, quiet house to live in, so we have to sit here and put up with the Mary Kay Headquarters in our face. It’s really surprising too that as civilized as the British people are, that someone would have the audacity to disrespect their neighbours that much and have rights to protect them to do such a thing. I mean what would a neighbour have to do for someone to finally step in and say, “You can’t do that?”


  1. This is an appalling situation. And the fact that the landlord is so disinterested in making sure ALL the tenants are happy is mind boggling. So there's no such thing as quality of life over there. Frustrating.

    Perhaps baby steps are in order. Tell the landlord your area by the front door is NOT a waiting room and you expect this to be resolved immediately.

    Good luck.

  2. Thanks for the sympathy. I think the landlord was going to say something about the waiting room situation but just now there was some man waiting outside my door while his wife was across the hall getting her spa treatment or whatever. Really unnerving.
    Oh and the overseers stressed to me that our neighbor is a *homeowner*, not a tenant. (As if we aren't homeowners either.) Apparently if she were renting the place we'd have more cause to complain. I doubt that though - nothing was done about the kids who use to have destructive drunken parties upstairs. It was only once in a while so they never said a thing to the kids about it.
    Nice, huh?

  3. This sounds awful - I wouldn't appreciate random strangers sitting outside my front door either. Have you tried talking to the business owner to see if she can make any alternative arrangements with regards to the 'non' waiting room?

    By the way, love the blog and have given you the Versatile Blogger Award x

  4. Nope. That's our next step. Of course I'll be polite about it but common sense tells us that people don't like such things infringed on their household.
    Thank you so much! My first blog award! Awesome!