Rental Opportunity of the Week: The Most Cursed-Looking Flat Yet

I feel like I am looking at something the atomic priesthood is currently developing runes to warn me about for the next thousand years.
A small cramped living room
All photos: Gumtree
What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? At first glance, it is basically a corridor that has been converted into a flat. At second, third and fourth glance – and I must insist you stare into the abyss with me, pin your eyes open and sear them against the screen if you have to – it actually turns out to be something much, much worse.


I don’t like to start this column by being too bombastic and hyperbolic in the first paragraph – you have like one and a half thousand more words of this! I don’t want to blow you out too early! Plus the photos do most of the heavy lifting for me – but I think, I think: I think this might be one of the strangest properties I have ever covered in this format. Every time I look at it again I find something weird and new and wrong. I feel like I am looking at something the atomic priesthood is currently developing runes and arcane symbols to warn me about for the next thousand years. This Is Not A Place Of Honour.

Where is it? Victoria Park in Manchester!

What is there to do locally? I like Manchester. Every time I am there, I half-suspect I could actually live a very content life there – realistically, all I need to thrive in a locale is “a nice pub”, “a less nice but densely carpeted pub”, “at least one decent coffee place”, “a brunch spot I like” as well as “a less-good brunch spot I like less but my girlfriend insists we go to instead”, one place where I can get a famously enormous burger and ideally a sandwich shop where the sandwiches look really good on Instagram, a bit of canal to walk past and some cycling infrastructure that I always tell myself I am going to use but never really use.


I think that’s all I need. Is it? I think it is. That and like, an organic shop that sells a lot of jarred items and expensive crisps and then a menswear shop that sells £220 Japanese workwear-inspired trousers. I mean, realistically, I could live anywhere that has all of those things, and Manchester has all of those things. But it also does still have the world’s largest population of “lads with Liam Gallagher haircuts and fishtail parkas, all of whom want to beat the shit out of me at all times, for some reason”, so I could live there for about eight weeks or so until I get so badly beaten that I die. But my goodness. What an eight weeks it would be. What a pair of trousers I would die in!

Alright, how much are they asking? A laughable – I’m actually laughing! – £550 PCM.

FIRST GLANCE: OK, here are your photos. At first blush, this is just a fairly slender flat with too many wall-mounted cupboards in it, isn’t it? Like, it has a couple of separate rooms. The bed is a sort of iron daybed that I’m fairly certain is actually garden furniture, but whatever. There’s an actual separate kitchen. There’s, you know, a skylight. It’s clean and un-damp and everything seems fairly new and solid. What are you moaning about! What are you moaning about! What are you moaning about!

The first bedroom in a house for rent in Manchester

SECOND GLANCE: Okay... so the main room is the one with the bed-slash-sofa in it. This is your living room, and your bedroom, and also I suppose your dining room, too. This is your all-purpose utility “room”. You enter that via the front door. The cupboards in this room, the more I look at them, are unsettling me a little. The only kind of room you ever really see that amount of cupboards mounted at that sort of height is in a kitchen, but this isn’t a kitchen. It’s a half-living room, half-bedroom room.

But then behind that is… another room. And this room, similarly, has a load of kitchen cupboards and a bed in it, but also a sofa that just faces a chair, and a… breakfast nook? And an ironing board, and… so, hold on. There are two rooms in this flat. But neither of them are single-function rooms. They are both half of a bedroom, and half of a living room. So I can only surmise that two separate people are currently living here, in half a bedroom each, and each of their half of a bedroom is actually, spiritually, more of a kitchen. And one of the bedrooms you have to walk through to get from the other bedroom to the bathroom. So hold—

The kitchen in a house to rent in Victoria Park, Manchester

The kitchen leading to the bathroom.

THIRD GLANCE: So after the bedroom-living room one and bedroom-living room two is a kitchen, right, which has fewer wall-mounted cupboards than both of the half-rooms behind it. Yes, it is a small kitchen and the tiling is ugly but it is a kitchen, it does work as a kitchen. There are two bins in the kitchen, for some reason, and I’m fairly certain you have to move both of them out of the way if you want to open the door to the bathroom, but fine. Fine.


The third room in the house is a two-bin kitchen but – a rarity for this column – it does at least have a full and actual hob-and-oven in it, and a washing machine, too. The kitchen I have no particular beef with, apart from the fact you have to walk through someone else’s bedroom to get to it, and through it to get to the bathroom. Though I suppose if you really wanted a piss and the person whose bedroom you need to walk through to get to the bathroom is asleep, you could let yourself out of the front door and then let yourself in the back door where the bathroom is. But that is insane. That is absolutely fucking insane. 

FOURTH GLANCE: So after the kitchen is the bathroom, and the bathroom is truly where things start to get disorientating. Firstly, the bathroom is actually a thoroughfare to the garden, which I don’t think I have ever seen before. I cannot begin to imagine how unsettling it is to piss and shit in a room that has a door directly leading to the outside in it. A lockable door.

So someone can unlock the door – they are coming home from a long day at work, perhaps; they are lugging a big backpack, with their work laptop and their gym clothes in it, and they are sighing, uhhhh – and they just turn the key in the lock and just fully walk in on you doing that movement you do a couple of hours after you eat a large McDonald’s. They make eye contact with you, while you do it.


In this scenario, can you live with this person still? If you are in a sexual relationship with this person, can either of you ever cum with one another again? And, crucially, how many years after that happening do you think your anxiety around pissing and shitting would finally recede? Would you ever sit on a toilet in peace again? No, you would not.

The two showerheads in the bathroom

The two showerheads in the bathroom.

If you look at the shower, you will notice that we have a “bin scenario” here, where for some reason there are two showers in this very compact shower cubicle. Now I know exactly why this is, and it is: the original shower has stopped working, and, as a solution, the landlord has had a new electric shower fitted in as well, but they have not removed the old plumbed-in shower, because that costs extra to do, so now you just have to navigate around an unusable shower every time you have a shower. This shower will be there forever.

The only remaining fear, of course, is that the second shower stops working, and the solution to that is to install a third shower. Eventually this cubicle will just be a small slender coffin-sized box with a lot of jutting pieces of metal in it, and every morning you have to guess which one is the one that works. 

The garden view from the bathroom.

Then the garden, which the advert cheerfully describes as “shared”, which I think means – because the bathroom leads almost directly to someone else’s conservatory, which it is not suggested you have access to – means you share the garden with the people who own the rest of the house, and thus the same people who decided to turn the tunnel between their house and their garage into a flat to try and rent to students, and are, thus, monstrously inhuman rats.


Out in the garden you have everything I want to see from a relaxing outdoor facility, such as “an old tarp held down by bricks” and “an armchair someone has heaved outside and left on the grass”. But then also a bizarrely neat little shed and well-manicured lawn. What is going on, here? How strange and alien are the landlord-neighbours you share this space with?

And with those questions asked: How annoying are they going to be to you whenever you do dare to venture out of your bathroom to use the garden? “Guys, just a heads up we are having a BBQ here Saturday, Sunday and then also Monday weirdly, so keep your heads down. If I hear you pissing and shitting while I’m out here flipping burgers, then I’m going to have to raise the rent.” 

The garden and the slenderness of the flat really does suggest to me that this is a repurposed strip of someone else’s house that has been skimmed and converted and rented out for £550 a month, which again to me suggests something dark in the core of the soul of the Great British Mortgage Haver – that the cost of converting half your garage into something that has two showers and a kitchen in it is so prohibitive that the rent probably wouldn’t begin to cover your outgoings until it’s been occupied for around a year to 18 months.

Then you have to battle with the fact that you lived the dream you were told all your life to – work hard, ball up a deposit, buy a fairly new property in a decent commutable area, fit double-glazing, marry someone sturdy and buy a big TV with them – has worked out, but left you hungry for more, and that hunger can only be sated by having one to two people living in a little bit of your house for a fairly sizeable outlay and in what can only be described as sub-prime conditions.

How do you feel, walking around your house, touching your fingers to the shared wall, knowing two people are on the other side of it, consumed by cupboards and sleeping in their own little living rooms? Good? Can you possibly feel good in that scenario?

A £550 monthly rent nets you around six-and-a-half grand each year from this. Was it worth it, slicing off a strip of your house and letting two people exist inside it, less and less humane by the second, the sound of their TV and laptop noises pulsing through your wall? Do you really need six extra grand a year to make this worthwhile? Was this “bit of pocket money, really, bit of play money” scheme of yours really, really worth it?

In the dark hours of the night, when all the animals have gone to sleep and all the traffic has slowed to a dull buzz, does your heart tell you that you are a good person? Or have you done something terrible to the world that cannot be undone? Would the planet have been better if you never set foot on it? Would the Earth be in a better state if you didn’t keep drilling showers onto it? Much to think about for live-in landlords the northwest over. Much, much to think on.