I spent a lonely Thursday putting our new house together, while Bill spent another eight hours cleaning our former house. He spent most of that time cleaning windows, knowing that the landlady would be looking at them. When we first moved into that house, she and her husband had new windows installed. They were framed in white, and she was determined to keep them white, to the point of asking me to clean them and make sure the plastic wasn’t stained by exposure to the elements.
I have no problem with doing basic housework. I wash dishes, do laundry, clean toilets, sweep and vacuum floors, and take out the trash. I don’t do windows, aside from the basic cleaning of schmutz from the glass. In fact, had I known that I was going to be expected to do windows, especially when we’re doing the paying rather than getting paid, I would have opted for a different place to live.
Just as our landlady claimed that she’d never had the problems with prior tenants that she’d had with us, I have never had landlords who had specific chores I was expected to do, outside of the usual stuff. Or, at least in other properties, any specific chores were included in the lease. Nevertheless, our landlady was continually disappointed by my cleaning efforts, particularly when it came to the windows. She’s apparently a very “neat” person, while I have a tendency toward collecting clutter. Still, unless I’m living somewhere free of charge, I don’t allow my landlords to dictate how clean my home will be while I’m in it, unless it’s a matter of the law or health and safety. I think even if I had been a neater person, it might not have been enough, since I had no way of knowing what her actual expectations were.
Knowing that moving puts me in a mean world, Bill wisely decided to deal with our former landlords on his own. Friday happened to be the landlady’s birthday, so he arranged the final inspection for the morning, so she and her husband would be free to celebrate with their friends and family. Prior to our move, I spent weeks doing preparatory cleaning, descaling the shower and taps, working on the stains on the carpets, and yes, even some preliminary window cleaning in the areas where I could reach. I did not venture out on the roof to do a thorough cleaning of the outside upstairs windows, nor did I try to clean the glass roof on the carport. I wasn’t wanting to tempt fate that I might have an accident.
As I put up our Christmas trees in our new house, I noticed a Facebook status update from Bill. He typed, “Well… that was a white glove inspection I failed in the first minute. I need a drink and it’s not even 10:00am.”
Naturally, that comment gave me a sense of dread. I later got the lowdown from Bill. Evidently, the landlady was upset that we’d used the trash cans to dispose of stuff during our move. She was expecting our bins to be empty and clean. I was a bit confused by that, especially since we paid rent for December as well as Nebenkosten, which includes trash pick up. She was also reportedly dismayed that she’d have to put the bins out for us, although we noticed that for the first years of our time in her house, she had the time to come over without notice whenever she felt like it.
This year, the landlords never turned on our water for the outside, as they had done in prior years. I suppose we could have turned the water on ourselves, but every other spring, they would come over to do this chore for us. I figured they didn’t trust to do it ourselves. We also had no hose this year, which they had provided in prior years. So even if I had been prepared to leave the bins in pristine condition, I couldn’t have. I suspect that a decision to clean the bins in the backyard would have vexed her, too, since I don’t think I would have been able to do it without getting debris on the lawn.
After checking out the trash bins, she went through the house, reportedly very upset with the condition of it, despite our hours of cleaning. What had her so cross? Evidently, it was the condition of the Rolladen straps. She paid little attention to the floors, the taps, or even the windows. Instead, according to Bill, she mostly focused on the shutters and the trash bins.
She also had comments about the condition of the oven, which like everything else in the house, is old and well used. Bill managed to get the oven quite clean, although it wasn’t looking like new. But then, it’s not a new oven. The handle on the dishwasher, also a vintage model, was askew. The machine still works fine, but for some reason, the handle is no longer in perfect alignment. I don’t know why it’s like that, but things tend to degrade from perfection with use. The hood of the oven/stove is also slightly off kilter, but it was like that when we moved in and has always functioned just fine. I never used the hood much myself, so I didn’t really notice it, other than when I cleaned the top of it prior to moving.
Now… I will admit that I didn’t bust my ass trying to clean the laundry/oil tank area because there’s just no way I could have gotten that area very clean. It’s a typical, damp, dirty, unfinished basement. I wasn’t going to go behind the oil tanks and deep clean, either. I don’t think anyone has done that in years, and I doubt it would have made a difference to her, anyway. I did try to get as much dust and cobwebs out of the basement as I could outside of the oil tank area. My efforts apparently fell short. Oh well. I have read that it’s not uncommon for landlords in Germany to be sticklers when it comes time to move out of a place. We got lucky with our first German landlord. He was delighted that we’d cleaned at all.
At least the handover is finished. We are insured out the wazoo, to include legal insurance should we need to go to court. We are also members of the Mieterverein. And while I’d really rather just be done with the whole move out experience, I feel assured that we’ve done our best to prepare for any lingering challenges. Hopefully, the landlady’s next tenants will be the ones she truly deserves. As for me, I am left with a weird form of PTSD. As I walk around our new house, I find myself obsessively looking for things I know would have upset our ex landlady, even though our new landlord is clearly much more relaxed than she is. It may take awhile for me to go back to feeling welcome and relaxed in my own home.
So ends our latest moving experience. This last week has been mostly about putting on the finishing touches. Today, Bill is trading in our Stuttgart license plates for Wiesbaden ones. We’ve visited the Wiesbaden commissary and AAFES. Tomorrow night, we’re going to see the Scottish Music Parade, and Thursday night, we’re going to a wine tasting and Christmas party. I’ve only been out of the Stuttgart area for a couple of weeks, but it feels like it’s been much longer. Wiesbaden definitely has a different feel and I look forward to exploring our new environs.