Renting: What you probably shouldn’t be doing...

Think before you paint!

Think before you paint! - Credit: Archant

It’s been a while since I spun a yarn about my adventures as a renter. In past weeks I have let readers into the fun I’ve had with my landlord - or rather, the letting agency he uses as a buffer between my demands as a tenant and his responses to these demands (most of which are things like “can you fix the drizzling shower please?” and so, I think, are pretty reasonable).


WHITE PAINT - Credit: Archant

My stories have essentially been the moanings of a man who is admittedly a little high maintenance, but also thinks he is well within his rights to complain about particular things when it comes to my status as a private renter. For example, my column from earlier in the year (January 21st) had me whining about the fees that agencies appear to charge you just - so it would seem - for a bit of a laugh.

But tenants aren’t all little angels - I wholeheartedly include myself in that. I’d say I’m a pretty good renter - I treat the place as if it’s my own and look after it very well. At least once a month I hoover and Febreze the curtains on both sides!

This slight striving for perfection has been known to get me into trouble though.

For example – the episode involving my toilet seat (don’t worry, this story isn’t unpleasant).

I moved into my apartment when it was brand new - crisp and pristine with a lovely stylish bathroom complete with one of those slow-closing plastic toilet seats. My bathroom is mostly decorated in whites and creams, and the toilet seat in question is indeed white.

Now, I am one of these people that get irked when gloss paintwork around things like the skirting board and coving starts to go a bit yellow. It bothers me profusely. And I am precisely the same when it comes to other household implements that are supposed to be lovely and white but start to fade in colour.

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So naturally, when I felt that the top lid of my toilet seat could do with brightening up having dulled slightly in the direct sunlight from my bathroom window, I began to wonder how I could do a bit of DIY improvement to it without bothering the landlord.

Before long I found myself in the emulsion aisle of Homebase examining which types of white paint could be used on plastic. I located a multi-surface paint that could in fact be used on plastic, metal, wood, ceramic - you name it, it could be slathered onto it. So - I decided to give my toilet seat a lick of paint.

Quite what I was thinking, I have no idea.

The next thing I know, I was at home, newspaper around the base of the lavatory so as to catch any wayward splashes of emulsion that might flick from my brush, dipping the bristles into the pot, ready to revamp my dulling loo seat.

I painted the top of the closed toilet lid, only to then register that it did nothing but accentuate how dull the rest of the seat looked. While the lid top was now a brilliant white, the rest was more of a flat grey in comparison. I therefore left the lid to dry, before returning for round two of ‘operation brighten up the toilet seat’. I lifted the lid and began painting the underneath of it, the edges of it, the hinges and the bit you actually sit on (which was perfectly clean, I might add, given that I frequently cleanse the lavatory with apple-scented Dettol).

This is where it all started to go horribly wrong. Because the inner ring of the toilet seat curves down slightly, the paint began to run in that direction, leaving an uneven finish to the paint job. I gave it a second coat, but the same thing happened.

What’s more, the paint dripped into the bowl.

So - after allowing this to dry, I went back into the bathroom to lift the lid up completely and paint the ceramic toilet rim, as well as the inside of the bowl, now spotted with unsightly droplets of white multipurpose paint.

The whole incident was just a total disaster and when I completed the job the toilet looked twenty times worse than it did originally - albeit a brilliant fresh shade of white.

My atrocious attempt at DIY ended with me having to apply white spirit to the ceramics and replace the toilet seat altogether, in case the landlord stumbled across the situation and wondered what on Earth I had been doing in there!

I’d say this is the weirdest thing I have gotten up to in that apartment, and not something I recommend any renter should do. Although I did try and bake a cake once without actually putting flour in it, but that wasn’t likely to bother the landlord as it wasn’t him that I had coming over for tea and Madeira sponge.

My point: I don’t claim to be the perfect tenant - far from it.

There was the time I forgot I had a routine lettings inspection and so hid from the lady who had come round to check everything was in order; I was not in the mood for visitors you see. This resulted in her telephoning me from the driveway and asking why I wasn’t opening the door as she could hear me moving around inside. I came up with the most ridiculous excuse - that the paper I worked for had asked me to conduct a telephone interview at the last minute with David Cameron and that I had been on the phone with Downing Street at the time and couldn’t answer the front door. Where this came from, I really couldn’t tell you.

I also short-circuited the electrics once, when attempting to hang an ornamental letter ‘A’ on a part of the living room wall that was directly over an electrical socket. Thank God for circuit breakers.

To err is human, I suppose; and we humble renters are human. And although I don’t have a totally un-blotted track record of perfect tenancy practice, I still retain that I am an excellent tenant. I’m very house proud, wire-hammering, toilet-painting and lying about David Cameron aside.