Something was following me home in the dark … I looked back nervously – there he was … a cheeky fox eyeing my bag, looking for a tasty treat! He wasn’t afraid of me so didn’t hide – just dropped his head slightly. He was rather large so I got home as fast as I could!

Others up to no good are much more brazen though …   As I turned the corner the whiff was terrible – it was coming from an uncollected rubbish bin outside the sheds. ‘Must be the heatwave’ I thought. But over the next few days it still wasn’t collected. I realised all the bin sheds were overflowing. Our service agent told me someone had renovated their flat and dumped everything into the domestic bins!

We’ve had incidences of flat contents being dumped there before – clothes, toys, shoes, even pushchairs – but this time it was a toilet (yes a whole toilet!), a basin, furniture, bricks, tiles, concrete – all heavy stuff. And the binmen had refused to take it away as they couldn’t even lift it! And even though it was clear to see, people were still throwing more rubbish on top – as if completely oblivious to the world.

I was shocked. Who does this? Whatever happened to skips? Or taking responsibility for where you live! What about health hazards? So we, the other residents, had to pay for it to be removed.

Ever since owners have been renting  their flats out these problems have begun. The service agent also told me that there were reports of mice in some flats. Perhaps attracted by the food thrown everywhere in the bin sheds and the doors never being shut so attracting foxes who rip out the bins?

There was no problem with the building so they had come in through windows from the allotments opposite. But the ‘tenants’ expected the service agent (that we the resident owners pay for) to remove them …  It seems no one takes responsibility anymore: they can do whatever they like, throw their rubbish just anywhere for others to deal with, and if anything goes wrong, someone else must surely deal with it. 

There was more to come … There has long been a problem  with people wedging open the intercom door … once we kept closing it, they craftily started placing a small pebble on the frame – which was then damaging the door every time it swung to. That was bad enough – but eventually ‘they’ decided to completely remove the lock to the door – making it impossible to shut. (They probably had no key).

It seems all of this is caused by some of our flats being rented out. So do we know who lives in them? Apparently not – as only some owners comply by completing the licencing form. I remember having to park in someone else’s spot due to an anonymous tenant taking mine – and receiving a rude note from a self labelled ‘owner landlord’ – one of the very perpetrators causing my constant stress… !

Add to this the locked cupboard we had built to block off the space under the stairs that was completely jammed with pushchairs, bikes, toys, furniture … and the unwanted post chucked on the ground which I scoop up and take to the recycling – a carrier bag I provided for it was soon screwed up and thrown on the floor (why???) – and the pushchairs are reappearing – now by the door! I have been angrily shoving them back outside the offenders doors …(and running off!).

Laundry – we live in flats with a lovely communal garden. No washing must be put outside … and yet … we have bits of rope used as lines strung across trees, clothes airers on  the grass – sometimes on the carpark … or even chucked on a hedge! (The mind boggles…) The carpark apparently is also a great place for barbecues … We even now have an ashbox on the wall as people were throwing cigarette butts outside their own front door … and signs on the wall telling them to be quiet – are we a pub now? 

Don’t start me on the ugly door numbers as people wouldn’t buy their own … and finally … I  found out a long time afterwards that there had been a problem with prostitution and drug dealing in the block opposite … So – the  solution? We now need CCTV to find out who does these things so they can be billed!

And the final insult – who pays for all this – the renovation clearance, rubbish, pest control, new door locks, cupboards, the CCTV? Yes  – that’s right – we do! Believe it or not, it’s a nice area – very quiet at night, well designed flats; huge, very pretty communal gardens backing onto allotments, off road allocated parking, lots of trees … and yet … the demise of quality of life has suddenly sped up relentlessly.

Things I would never have imagined are perfectly normal for some. It seems that now, if you rent, you owe no allegiance to your neighbours and are responsible for nothing. Decent people who live in our own flats are punished for being honest and pay for everything. The situation is uncontrollable because the flats, although private, are leasehold – and it’s impossible to get rid of our money-grabbing service agent. (Becoming freehold is hard too as many owners are absent.)

‘Shouldn’t the police deal with this criminal damage?’ I asked. ‘You’re free to inform them’ came the answer, ‘but what do you expect them to do?’. In other words, it’s easier to just make us pay for it all. Do we not even try to involve the police anymore? (I wonder to myself … am I just the biggest mug ever?) This is how we live now: lowering our standards more and more, worn out by it all … too tired after a day’s work to really care …. (but I try, I really do).

So who can blame the fox for trying for some crafty  food – he seems rather harmless in comparison …  


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