Well, it's a long story but we have a house now! (Our current house was on an extremely short-term lease as the owner is going to knock it down soon.) However, it's a tale worth sharing, so get comfy!
We were getting no where with the formal rental market, real estate agents basically don't want to know about anyone who is unemployed, even if they are receiving Centrelink benefits, so even the few places we could afford (Real Estate will not only rarely give anyone a fair go, but they are a greedy bunch too) we didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting.
I'd begun to search out private rental properties again, where you're more likely to get a chance, but you often have to pay a little more, so again our choices were extremely limited. My search led me to posting an add on a few websites for private rental properties, saying what we were looking for and our price range.
After not more than a day or two, I was contacted by a lady who said she had a house that was up for grabs, 2Bd and in a great area. The price would stretch us a little, but we decided to go and look, and went to meet Sharon that same day.
It was a great little house, neat bedrooms, cute kitchen HUGE backyard, so much room for Zeke to play in, and we decided we'd definitely apply, S had said she was looking for some longer-term tenants, having just said goodbye to her previous tenants of 11 years. We felt good about our chances as S had read and liked my post online describing Ryan, Zeke and I and what we were looking for, and had approached and invited us to see the house. Actually invited, and had not just assumed we would want it!
After filling in the paperwork & getting a personal reference (from our lovely Minister friend John) We dropped the application back at the house, and not even 24 hours later (yesterday) I get a message from S asking me to call, which I did. The conversation went something like this:
S: Can you remind me if you have a car?
M: Yes, my partner and I have a car each.
S: Ahh, because we've narrowed it down to two couples, you and another couple, but they don't drive and need to be quite close to public transport.
At this point I'm thinking "Oh crap, we're not going to get the place." There is a bus stop right outside the front gate, obviously making the house perfect for an occupant without a car. I could also understand where she was coming from, S had made her intentions clear from the start that she wanted to find someone who would not only be good tenants, but that she would be helping too, and naturally this car-less couple suited better. However, there was a LOT more to come.
S: But we do have another house further up the road. It is a 3 bedroom, and we'd like to offer it to you.
M: How much would you be asking? The first house was our absolute price limit.
S: We'd be asking no more than the original house, I understand you need to be realistic about price. Would you like to make a time to view it?
M: How about tomorrow?
S explained that the previous tenants had more or less trashed the place, and had left a lot of rubbish and personal items in the house. There were holes in the plaster and the house needed a re-paint, but as she understood our time here is short, she would take us through right away - without opening the house to other applicants! Basically it was ours if we wanted it!
So today we head over and look at the house, and met Sharon and Robyn, the co-owner. S again apologised for the mess, and took us through the place.
Let me tell you, despite the fact that the house really does need a good clean from top to bottom it is GORGEOUS. There are 3 bedrooms, two with big built in robes, the lounge is huge with a lovely heater, there's a separate dining space and the kitchen is to die for! The oven is massive, and there is a two-drawer dishwasher! The kitchen has storage and cabinets out the wazoo and a massive island bench in the middle. Gas cooking and hot water, with a SPA BATH in the bathroom, and the most gorgeous glass sink and mirror. Not to mention the giant double linen closet, a smaller one near the bath and a separate toilet (I never liked toilet and bathrooms in one) and a separate laundry! The backyard is massive, a gentle slope and well lit, with a big proper clothes line, and a huge lemon tree!
The downsides? Trivial really. Because of the depth of the bath I will have to bathe with Zeke, as I won't be able to reach him safely if he is in there by himself. Oh, and I expect the glass sink will be a royal pain to keep looking nice. As I said, trivial.
S is turning out to be the most wonderful landlady, and we haven't even signed the lease yet (she is getting the paper work, and we can't do the condition report and pay bond till the house is clean.) She understands that we have to move soon, and has arranged to focus on the house providing she can finish the garden after we move in.
S: I would always phone to confirm if it was okay before I came.
M: That's fine. Our last landlord would always just appear at random.
S: Oh, I could never do that. It will be your house after all.
M: That's great!
It was good that Sam came to do so much of the front gardens etc, but it was always unnerving to wake up at 8am to find him mowing the front lawns... and then putting the grass clippings in our rubbish bin!
As the house needs to be painted and S wants the place to be done when we move, she and Ryan came to an agreement, that if Ryan does some/all of the painting, she will credit us rent from our first payment for the work he does. Not all of the rooms need painting, and the ones that do only need one coat and she is offering an extremely generous rate (we told her so, and gave her the chance to offer less) so it is an excellent deal! And even though we have not signed the lease, Ryan will be getting a key tomorrow to have access to paint whenever he is able, not just when S or R will be available to let him in. She is also letting us move some of our things over already in small lots to make the main move easier on us.
S and R have truly proven to be angels, not only are they giving us an amazing house at an amazing rate, they then offered us another fantastic deal. If we're willing to help clear the garden initially (part of the previous tenants TLC included somehow letting a completely tanbarked garden become knee-high in weeds) and then maintain it, (easy as it will be getting re-topped, so no mowing and minimal weeds, only the occasional rake to keep it level really) she will knock $20 off the rent every week!
By this point we are more or less speechless with their generousity, but S and R went on to explain that they are aware they could easily ask $100 more per week for the property, but would rather know that they will be taking on responsible, long-term tenants who will be good to the house and to them. They also know what it's like to do it rough, so understand charging more would mean we couldn't rent the place, and know that we simply won't get a chance in the formal rental market. Oh and yes, LONG-TERM we're looking to sign a 2-year lease, and pretty much the house is ours as long as we want it from then on, as long as we pay the rent & don't trash it. Done and done!
After a million more thank yous, and some arrangements to get a key sorted, and exchanging phone numbers (we'd only exchanged numbers via email up to this point, so was good to actually write them down!) Ryan and I headed back home and to spread the good news.
We also realised we can now get a dining table, and it turns out fate really has been smiling on us. I jump on eBay and find a really nice table, that matches the wood floors, with 4 chairs in a style Ryan & both love (and I thought we'd never agree on anything interior design wise!) for $80! Naturally I clicked "Buy it now" - and we're arranging to collect the table sometime this week.
So that is the saga of finding a new house. We really landed on our feet this time. A stunning, long-term house, with amazing landladies, for a brilliant rate!
Best get to packing hey?