In the middle of last year I sold a second apartment that I had been renting out. This was for various reasons, but importantly, the generated capital had to be reinvested in something similar, as it represents my pension provision.
It has taken until this month for everything to work out, and two weeks ago I took possession of the new property.
The previous one had been very close to where my own apartment is. So close, in fact, that I could have popped down the stairs to borrow a cup of sugar! The new one though is in the centre of the city, mainly to enable me to secure a tenant without too much wait.
There were a number of things that needed attention, and I had set a budget for those. Initially I had forgotten that our money grabbing government had recently imposed a 3% penalty, they call it a tax, on anyone buying an apartment that is not their primary residence. This despite that they are not building enough properties to rent and keep bellowing on to us to make provision for our pension. I had done so, but clearly that was a bad thing to do!
So that took a large chunk out of my renovation budget.
Which has posed a problem.
I should have guessed, but there is a lot more wrong with this property than initially thought. Some of it caused by bodged-up repairs by so called professional builders in the past, doing a very amateur fix, and leaving the owners with a whopping bill. The list grew and grew.
One item that needed attention, which should have been very simple, was the discovery of a gas meter. There are no gas appliances in the property, and further investigation revealed there hasn't been so since 2007. So, get it removed as it's taking up space was the logical next step.
I attempted that this morning, and it is two hours of my life I will never get back!
I contacted British Gas. In fact, I rang them four times, as they persistently cut me off, usually at a point in the conversation where we had almost cracked the problem. It's lucky the house phone is made of tough stuff, considering I launched it across the room several times.
Eventually, during one 54 minute conversation, I started to get somewhere, until the British Gas (BG) persons computer said "no". It went a little something like this:
Me: So I need this meter removed. Here's my address.
BG: Sorry but that address doesn't exist.
Me: Well, it was built in the late 1800s, so I think you'll find it does.
BG: Its not on our national data base.
Me: So that means the property doesn't exist.
BG: That's correct. Anything else I can help you with?
Me: Explain why to me.
BG: The address you gave us and the one on the system don't match.
To cut a long, long, long story short, the address they had was the same, just in a different form, and the BG person said it was impossible to change, and so I would just have to leave the meter where it was. According to them there was no meter in the property, (I had a photograph of it!!!) and that the meter number I had given him was supplying gas to another property two floors below!
I hung up.
I then called Scottish Gas Networks, who deal with the engineering. This time I get a cheerful Glasgow person. And guess what? Done and dusted in five minutes.
You can always rely on a Scot to cut through the bullshit.