… can be pretty stressful at times.
There was a small gas leak at my apartment in Maastricht, which we discovered when the agent and my new tenant were checking the meters and thought they smelled gas. Luckily, the problem is fixed now, but it has certainly been an eventful week, to say the least. And some of the proceedings have been a bit weird.
The tenant contacted the concierge on Monday morning, but he insisted that I should be the one who contacted him, even though I’m all the way in Amsterdam. So instead of just checking on the problem immediately, which would have taken five minutes, this is what actually happened:
- I called him, but he asked me to notify the VVE (Vereniging van Eigenaren, or the Homeowners’ Association). Since I didn’t have the number on hand, I asked him for the number.
- I called the number, but I got a voicemail on the line mentioning that it was an old number. It gave me a new number that I should call.’
- I called the new number, but I found out that it was the wrong number. It was technically the same company, I think, although a complete different part of it. So I got a different number.
- I called the newer number, and finally it was the right number. I told them about the gas smell, and they told me they would call the concierge, and he would call me back.
- I called the tenant to inform him that the concierge would call me back shortly. I asked him what would be convenient for him to make an appointment. He indicated that it was really hard for him to leave work in the coming two days, but he suggesting leaving the key with the concierge when leaving for work in the morning, which sounded like a good idea to me.
- The concierge called me and I told him about the suggestion. He said it was impossible, as he was working in the afternoons that particular week. When asked about it, he also mentioned he did not have a spare key for the meters (which was outside my apartment). This struck us as odd; we would have expected that there would be a spare key for emergencies.
- I called the tenant again, and discussed what we should do. In the end, I suggested that I could come back for the appointment myself, since I could also work in Maastricht.
- I called the concierge and made an appointment with him for the next afternoon (Actually, I remembered making more calls between the tenant and concierge, but I can’t recall the exact details).
- I traveled to Limburg that evening and stayed with my parents. I first met the tenant at eight in the morning to get the keys, and I met the concierge later that day. After looking at the meter for 2 minutes, he suggested that I should call the gas company.
Wow, talk about bureaucracy! If he had just gone up with my tenant for 5 minutes, he could have suggested we call the gas company immediately, and we could have avoided all these steps above…
But then I did something stupid. I asked the tenant to call the gas company and I put the keys back in his mailbox before waiting for the reply from the gas company. When I reached the office, I got a call from my tenant that the gas company was sending a mechanic at once, and that they were not willing to wait those few hours before he got home. They even called the fire department! So back to the apartment again. The firemen were already there when I arrived, but the door was still closed. But it didn’t really matter as I didn’t have the key. So they proceeded to saw the door from its hinges. After that, the mechanic indicated that there was indeed a leak in the gas pipes, so at least they didn’t saw the hinges for nothing… They couldn’t fix the leak the same day, so they made an appointment with the tenant for the next evening. They fixed the leak then, but as it turned out, the connection from the pipe to the stove was never correctly sealed off, so there was actually a tiny amount of gas in the kitchen for the past 3-4 years at least (the stove was already there when I moved in during January 2007)! That was a bit shocking to hear, as things could have been worse. But everything is fixed now, although I still need to arrange something for the door, but that should be fine.
To finish off, I want to list or summarize some of the weirder stuff that happened:
- The matter was serious enough to warrant calling the fire department, but throughout the whole process I had to follow all the bureaucratic steps, and no one in the whole chain seemed particularly worried until the last link, which lulled me into a false sense of security. Again, if the concierge had just spent those five minutes, we could have resolved this much faster, and with my door intact. Looking back, I admit there were some things I should have handled differently myself, but we live and learn… I guess it was too much to expect more decisive action from these professionals.
- Strangely enough, there were no spare keys for the meters in the building in case of emergencies. What’s even stranger though, apparently the gas company has a spare key for every single building in the city … except for our building! At least that’s what the mechanic told the tenant, and he said he didn’t know the reason.
- Apparently, the main reason why they called the fire department immediately (instead of waiting just 2 hours), was because there was an incident involving a gas leak a while ago, and the gas company was blamed for it. Ok, that I can understand, and in the end, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry.