Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bin talk

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Sunny with cloudy periods 18 degrees

The phones were quieter today.  I get a call from the owner saying that she will not attend the signature at the other agent's office today and they will see what happens.  What happens is that the other couple, following their avocat's advice, turn up and sign and the agent rings the sellers to say that they have 14 days to present themselves or they will receive a bailiff's letter which is a legal ultimatum to show up or pay a heavy fine.  The sellers have instructed an avocat too.

I speak to my buyers and update them.  The seller's notaire has told them not to use the very long explanation of the situation, prepared by my buyers to send to the other buyers via the sellers.  She has said not to put anything in writing.  Excellent advice.  It looks like it will proceed to Tribunal now and there is no guarantee that either one side or the other will win. My buyers starting to sound deflated.

On a happier note, the lovely Russian clients sign the offer on the large house in the mountains and the sellers co sign.  Things are en route.  Strangely, I get a message to contact someone who came to see this house months ago and has been dithering.  I hope he doesn't now want to buy it as it is too late.  When I take a sales contract on a house, if I produce a buyer who offers the price, the house IS sold as I have fulfilled my part of the contract.  And the owners, if they refuse to sell, owe me my fees.

People think that the fees are elevated because they are in the region of 6%.  Estate agency here is not a question of putting out some adverts and letting the owners do the visits and then five million phone calls (there are always five million phone calls).  It is accompanied visits (I have nearly 300 000 kms on the car after just six years), negotiation of price, expert reports, gathering of information, millions of emails, negotiation of reservation contract and annexes and keeping the notaires' nose to the grind stone.  After sale, it is organising insurance, bank accounts, schools, artisans, permits, licenses and a myriad of other stuff. It is often the case that the most fraught dossiers are the ones that I get paid least on.  I deserve a break and hopefully this dossier will be it.   I don't get paid until the keys are handed over with the passing of title.  

Over the last few years, the period between the reservation contract and the passing of title has been getting longer and longer.  My bank account has been very sad and thirsty because we do not seem to manage to spend less than 2k a month.  And that is not because we spent on pink gin, cigars and wild nights out.  It is really dull stuff like health insurance, car insurance, insurance for the house and the unloved rental units, social charges (I can tell you right now that social charges really put a damper on any form of social activities), monthly bank charges even though you stay in credit, land line, electricity, water, two mobiles, Internet, diesel and food.  I refused to let the rates people sign us up to MDD as they charge you extra for the privilege and I am still battling to get back the amount they erroneously and shockingly seized from our bank account at the back end of last year. Their accounting system is completely shite.

Speaking of things coming out of the rear end, here is something I wrote a while ago

Over here, we have been watching with interest the problems that people in the UK are having with their local Councils and their bin collections.    If it is any comfort to you, things are not any better over here.

We live in the countryside, about 4 kilometers from our nearest town.  Until a few months ago, we shared a large communal dustbin with our six nearest neighbours.  This bin was for non recyclables and was emptied on a Thursday.  Each household had a yellow milk crate into which went the recyclables.  Anything large, we could take to the local rubbish collection area and the rather eccentric opening hours of this establishment were handily marked on the communal dustbin.  In the town centre, there were also communal dustbins and the recyclables milk crates.  It was a system which seemed to work very well.

The powers that be decided things needed to change.  The first we knew about it was when the communal dustbin disappeared.  It was, to be fair, on its last legs, having been driven into a number of times by people who hadn't braked in time to take the corner.  We waited two weeks.  Still no dustbin.  So I went into the local town office and asked what we were supposed to do with our rubbish.  I was informed that, henceforth, each household would have an individual bin and that there was an information notice on the front door of the building.  I went to have a look - there was indeed a very small notice.  I pointed out that I dont live in the town centre so how was I supposed to know?  The secretary replied that they couldn't waste money sending out notices to everyone.   I requested a dustbin and was told I would be getting TWO dustbins - one with a black lid and one with a yellow lid for recyclables.  We could not, however, we were told put in any glass or bottles.  The bins duly turned up two weeks later, during which time we did what every other person in the alentours had also done.  We brought our rubbish into town and put it into the communal dustbins.  These were soon overflowing.  All of the bottle banks were similarly full and no new extra ones were provided.  It became quickly evident that we all get through a lot of wine in a week.

The people in the town centre were very unhappy.  Many of them are 17th and 18th century town houses with no outside space, so the dustbins had to go in the house.  What would happen in Summer when it is very hot, they wailed?  Many of them left the bins outside and happy adolescents and various animals took the opportunity to knock them over and spread the rubbish about.  People signed a petition and demanded the reinstatement of the communal bins.  The shopkeepers were also unhappy because, although the communal bins were meant to be for them only, they were full to overflowing almost all of the time.

The powers that be had another think about it.  They decided to put locks on the communal dustbins and issue keys to the shopkeepers.  The people in the town centre then started to put their bin bags containing food and smelly stuff on top and beside the communal dustbins.  The local wildlife was thrilled.  The street cleaners were very busy.

The people in the countryside waited with baited breath to see what would happen next.  This was the best entertainment we had had in a long time.  The Town then decided to reinstate the communal dustbins and has taken away all of the individual bins.  They have also issued keys for the communal bins to ALL of the people living in the town centre. 

The individual bins are piled up in a car park and look 

As of today, the bins are still festooned with rubbish bags, the tops are wonky where people have prised them up to slip in unwanted items and there are still not enough bottle banks. 

Heaven only knows how much this has cost the Commune.  I can't wait to get the statement of expenditure which they issue once a year.   Is this madness going on elsewhere?  I would love to know.