The Big Melt

Sunrise/sunset: 04:17/21:18 Daylength: 17hr01min

The big melt is underway. It has been above zero for more than a week now, although there has been an overnight blip. I woke this morning to a light dusting of snow. I know some people reading this live in snowy places, but most do not. My mum asked me a couple of weeks ago, after a few days of warmer weather, whether the snow was gone yet and I had to tell her that it was still higher than the car roof. It takes weeks for it to go away and afterwards, another couple of weeks for the earth to begin to warm up and for plants to grow, despite the already long days.

The picture at the top of the page was taken yesterday morning, behind the house. It was difficult to photograph, but there is a newly formed river and lake just beyond the garden. No wonder, with the amount of rain that has been coming down. Coupled with the melting snow, there is going to be a significant amount of water gathering for the next few weeks.

Of course, as with any such major change, there is a lot of work to be done. Not particularly for me (I have to decide when to change from winter tyres to summer, which is always a lottery as it can snow into May) but for those fixing the roads, which are badly cracked this year, and also builders and anyone else whose jobs are limited by the weather, the next few months will be crazy. I will have to contact the plumber again soon, to see whether he can fit me in while entry to the foundations is not blocked by a metre of snow . I’ve also contacted an electrician, who hopefully is coming out to look at my museum-piece fuse box, with a view to installing something a bit more up-to-date! The current one is not as old as Per and Tor, as the house was only built in the early 80s, but perhaps they’d have been more familiar with its design than I was when I moved in!

I don’t really have much idea how much it will cost, and perhaps it won’t be possible now, but there are a few fixes I would really like to get done, and this is one of them. At the moment, we can’t run the washing machine twice in a short period and if we use the oven and plates too enthusiastically, dinner ends up being very slow.

I’m going to give what will probably be the final update in the Mr Abusive saga. I didn’t mention last time, but about ten minutes after the electronic letter arrived, Mr Abusive’s wife sent a demand for the money on my phone. This, I recognised, was the first part of a process, by which they have to give various warnings before contacting the bailiffs. As far as I can work out, they have to send a demand first, with two week’s notice, then a warning that they will be referring me for debt collection, with another two week’s grace. That is the minimum, but they are allowed to send various letters, ramping up the charges with each, and for every day I don’t pay, interest would be added on. The bailiffs in Norway are the police, and they have the power to take money from my bank, so Mr Abusive had the full force of Norwegian law and power behind him, based entirely on Husleietvistutvalget’s faulty decisions.

I hope you are not bored, but when I say faulty, I do mean it. The clearest example was that, for carrying out cleaning himself (rather than employing a professional company) he charged me 600kr per hour. This seemed a huge amount, when an inexperienced cleaner in Norway only earns 210kr per hour. My feeling that this was off, was backed up when I read various other Husleietvistutvalget cases. Most landlords only ask for between 200 and 250kr per hour. In another case, the landlord asked for 350k per hour and was firmly told that was too high. His fee was reduced to 212kr per hour. The other decisions were also faulty. For example, Mr Abusive alleges he had to throw out a rug because of ingrained dog hair, but the picture he staged (presumably by emptying the vaccuum cleaner over it) showed a mass of unvacuumed hair and dust. Legally, he is required to attempt to clean it before throwing it out, but there was no evidence he had. It really was like that through the whole case.

Currently, a group of students in Oslo have the papers and I hope they will give me their thoughts on the legalities, but I will be making a complaint, one way or another. Not that it is easy to do so. Every letter I send out from Mattilsynet contains details on how to challenge the decisions I’ve made. There is literally no official pathway to complain about Husleietvistutvalget, and even the information about which government department might have some responsibility for overseeing it is carefully obscured. That the only official channel for challenging it is taking it to court means that those without money are unable to get justice. I hadn’t expected to find myself here in Norway. There’s an assumption that tenants (and women) are well protected here, but this is the second time I’ve found out that I am not and I can’t deny that it has changed my view of Norwegian “justice”.

Anyway, unless my complaint results in something positive happening, I won’t be updating again. Though it’s enough to have an impact on what I can do to improve the house, I am not about to go bankrupt. I will move on, given time, but that’s a story for another day.

It’s not a very beautiful time here, when the snow is melting, but I took some photos anyway. As the huge piles of scraped snow melt, they turn black as the grit that was scraped up with them is left behind. There are a lot of septic tanks around here (I have one) and I should imagine that, as the water levels rise, they must all flood. There was something very brown deposited on the ice in a melting river I found yesterday. No smell, but I did wonder. Snow is beautiful. Its retreat: not so much!

Have a good week all! Thanks for reading.

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