thoughts on our urban future

I want to live in a detached villa (or Peabody Trust is acting like an absentee landlord)

Perceived tenants' rights

For the past week and a half, I have not slept more than four hours each night (including over the weekend). The neighbour upstairs lives nearly in my bedroom, with only a layer of plaster, original floor joists from 1885 and a solid wood floor separating us. No insulation exists, nor is there any carpeting laid to minimise noise transmission.

I moved into the privately rented, market-priced flat under the assumption that it was fully refurbished (I was told by the letting negotiator that market rate rent supports improvements to the overall estate and socially rented properties, as I now wait for improvements). When I moved in, it was clear that they forgot to check the boiler during the complete refurbishment, and in the early London freeze, I had no heat while they tried to organise its replacement (it was a bureaucratic mess with complete communication failure between Peabody and their contractors).

Two weeks later I finally had heat and hot water. One month later, I realised they installed the boiler incorrectly and I once again had no hot water and heat for three more days in sub-freezing temperatures. The advice from the Peabody Trust: “You have a kettle, layer up with blankets and use the kettle.” Seriously.

The Peabody Trust since has demonstrated inconsistencies in overall management, often verging on the incompetent. The neighbour above has a cat – not allowed via the lease, but under personal circumstances Peabody allowed an exception. The cat is playful and loves running franticly on the wooden floors throughout the night. No inspection sought to see if the cat would disturb the neighbours, apparently.

In addition, the neighbour also likes to stomp around, strangely throughout the night. He arrives home from the late shift (at times) or just seems to randomly get up in the night – usually around two or three in the morning, and then again at five or six in the morning. These multiple disturbances throughout the night keep me up.

This has been a continuing problem since moving in, and is escalating. Peabody has known of this issue since 01 November. Emails have been sent to the Neighbourhood Manager, the Asset Manager for the Peabody Trust along with members of the Executive Board to no avail (and in fact, no response).

Frustratingly, it was relayed to me that the Trust would put carpet into the flat above, however as it is socially rented, they cannot (they couldn’t fully explain why not, but they did say if it was a market rate property, they could install carpeting within a week!). As per this realisation, they determined that the issue lies with the tenant and the Trust has requested that he lays carpeting, which – apparently – he cannot afford. Therefore, there is no solution at this moment!

I personally have no idea was the solution to the problem is besides Peabody – the landlord – installing a cheap carpet with acoustical underlay. I now do know, however, that I dream about having a big American house (read an urban 1,500 square foot townhouse, not 3,200 square foot McMansion) with a patch of green. I am no longer ashamed in saying that!

I am an urbanist, but wonder what as an individual you can do to try to live peacefully in a flat, with uncooperative neighbours and with a landlord unwilling to help (ironically the Peabody Trust’s mission supposedly ensures that “as many people as possibly have: A good home… A real sense of purpose… and A strong sense of belonging…” Perhaps their missions isn’t “as alive today as it was in 1862” as they claim). Without creating environments for urbanism to flourish, we will continually have to fight the easy, convenient life that the suburbs promote.

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  1. After months of dead-end conversations and emails (and an ironic twist on the day of posting the above rant), the Peabody Trust have finally taken the initiative to address the situation by agreeing to the supply and installation of carpeting to the bedroom of the flat above.

    They state: “Whilst noise issues of this type are complex and sometimes difficult to resolve, I certainly empathise with your frustrations regarding this. We take the well-being of all our residents seriously and hope that the agreed resolution will resolve this problem.” Indeed it should.

    I appreciate the resolution (finally), however I wonder what success less persistent tenants will have in the future. An overall change in customer service is truly required if they hope to move closer to their mission statement.


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