Rental Opportunity of the Week: Live in Your Landlord's Garden (But Only If You're in a Couple)

Sounds fun!
flat to rent edmonton
Photos via Gumtree
What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? Well, essentially it’s a laundry room that someone put a single bed in, so jot that down.
Where is it? The listing says “Edmonton”, which is the name they gave to the industrial park bit of Tottenham, but even then I’d say that’s a bit of a push. It’s therefore “aspiring to be Edmonton”. The nearest Overground station is called “Silver Street”. I’ve lived in this city for over a decade now and I am just learning there is an Overground station called “Silver Street”. Am I stupid and uncultured? Yes. Did the government secretly release a map update in the latest London patch, installed overnight to include the newly-invented “Silver Street Overground station”? Also yes. Both things can be true.
What is there to do locally? You’re in a Bermuda Triangle of emergency services here, equidistant from a police station, an ambulance station and a full hospital, so I suppose you can do anything you want, because however hard you fuck up, there’s someone there whose job it is to fix it. But I mean let’s be honest here: the only reason people go to Edmonton is to badly park a Zipvan underneath the big IKEA before going to buy bath mats, lamps and exactly one doomed succulent the same weekend they move to Stoke Newington. So I suppose you can just go and watch all those couples file down the escalator, fuming, holding the last few bites of a 99p hotdog, whatever traces of romance that had somehow survived their decision to move in together lost now, sizzling off them like a steam, evaporating lifeless into the grey-blue sky above. You eat a miniature Daim bar and guess how long they’ll make it. I’m saying: eight months.
Alright, how much are they asking? £750 p.c.m., which would normally get the “not so bad!” caveat footnote (*1]), but this one comes with a demand from the landlord: Couples Only.


I like washing machines and, I think, the same way “speech, fire and agriculture” separates us from the animals, so “washing machines” separate us from the Americans. In Britain, most flats have a washing machine in them, for washing your clothes (*2). In America, most flats have a big jar for “quarters” and a special big bag to take every T-shirt you own in down to the neon-lit laundrette once a week. This is the only cultural difference between us. That said, I don’t think a washing machine should be the main feature in a flat, useful as it is:

flat to rent edmonton
flat to rent edmonton

This flat in sort-of-Edmonton asks a lot of questions, but the first is a quasi-philosophical chicken-and-egg scenario: what came first, here, the washing machine, or the piece of kitchen countertop the precise dimensions of the washing machine? Either one of them being first is bad: “Put an extremely small, square kitchen counter there, will you, by the door” vs. “Can you put a square of kitchen counter over that washing machine so it isn’t just there”.

But I suppose we should be thankful to have both. You don’t just want a raw, freestanding washing machine. You don’t just want a kitchen counter, unsupported by anything. The two go hand-in-hand. You should be glad to have them.

The second question is: who is supposed to live here? Because the landlord has demands; “self contained studio flat build at the back of the landlord garden”, the listing reads, “very clean and modern . fully furnished and fully fitted. all bills are included. only working people. couple only.”


Someone built a small box with a washing machine in it at the back of their garden, but they have the temerity to insist anyone who lives there has a job. Someone built a small box with a washing machine in it at the back of their garden, but they don’t want one person to live there – and please, reminder, this place would be too small for one person to live in – they want two. Someone built a small box with a washing machine in it at the back of their garden and they want a couple to sleep interlocked within a single bed inside it. There is not a double bed in this room. You and your partner have to sleep together in a single, next to your washing machine, with your landlord a few yards behind you. Personally, I think that’s unideal!

But look closer – the grey laminate floor, the oddly dispiriting double-glazed front door, the immaculately shiny black work surfaces, the unmildewed shower, the white and un-worn wardrobe and bed: this is all new. From the looks of it, nobody has ever lived here before, and this project has been completed in lockdown.

Someone looked at the half-garage spare room they had on the back of their house and thought, ‘Two cunts could live here, and pay most of my mortgage back while they do it.’ Someone thought a cubicle shower and a couple of erratically-placed plug sockets is enough to sustain two people and a profit while they do it. This entire grey untouched place is the endgame of an extremely depressing and un-empathetic thought process. Evil distilled like vodka through Mrs. Hinch’s dreary Instagram aesthetic and uploaded to Gumtree for profit. Oh look, your partner’s just walked in and sat cross-legged on your bed in a serious pose, I won’t interrupt y—


“Hey,” they say, “I think it’s time.”

“What for?”

“For the next step.”

“I told you I have a complicated relationship with my parents, so that’s why I didn’t invite you to Easter, even though I Instagrammed it loads and it really did look like we get on really well and I had a whole brother I’d forgotten to tell you about and—”

“No, not that. I mean… we’ve been spending a lot of time together in lockdown…”


“And it’s been 14 months since I found all those texts on your phone and made you delete the number of the person you were sending them to.”


“So… I think we should move in together!”

“What, here? With four lads called ‘Callum’ I went to university with? The Lad Hutch™?”

“No, not The Lad Hutch™. Somewhere else. Just the two of us.”

They’ve got a laptop out. It’s never good when they’ve got a laptop out.

“I’ve been looking online and… there’s some really cute places we can afford…”

“This is just a washing machine inside a prison cell.”

“It’s cute!”

“It’s in Edmonton.”

“So you don’t love me!”

I’m going to tiptoe out of here, mate. Cal, Callum and Calsy have all got a FIFA tournament on the go downstairs, and I’m playing as Inter. Enjoy the next two hours of this argument where you eventually concede that actually you do want to live together and yes, you do want to sleep in a single bed next to a washing machine in Edmonton. It’ll be nice, in a way. I’ll take your slot in T.L.H.™ and keep the downstairs sofa warm for when you need it in eight months’ time. What a run we had. What a run we had.


(*1) The “Not So Bad!” Caveat Footnote:  I know it doesn’t seem like this column contains any rules, forethought or parameters, but it slightly does, and one of them comes down to how much the flat fundamentally costs per month to rent, which is a constantly moving target inside my head, completely uninformed by data, research or evidence. Roughly: if the flat is horrible, but is far below the median London rent price range, then it gets a pass from me, because people of all income streams deserve to live in the city, and if that means you have to exist in a £450-a-month bedsit then I’m not going to go online and be like, “Looks shit, mate. Where’s your wardrobe???? Dickhead.”

The point of the column is to find shitholes that are not only shitholes but push the limits of what rental value the space is worth (the existence of which, by degrees, makes your rent on a non-shithole more and more expensive by degrees), and that’s where the Not So Bad! rule comes in. This place, at the right price, would be Not So Bad! But it’s £750 a month, in not-quite-Edmonton, and you have to share it with your partner. So now it has become, by extension, Bad. You see now the point of the footnote.

(*2) Your flat will probably also have a designated space where you all keep a laundry airer, and you all say it’s a temporary feature because sometimes you fold it down and put it behind the door in your living room when people come over, but in actuality it’s one of the most permanent fixtures you have, because there’s three of you and Amy does two laundry loads a week, PLUS her sheets and duvets every Sunday, so there is basically, always, a huge rack of laundry in the house, looming there awkwardly, just standing there, taking up an exceptional amount of space in your front room. You plan for the space you need to accommodate a sofa, and a TV stand, and a dining table, and where you’re going to lean your bike. You never, ever actualise the sheer floorspace needed to accommodate a big wash of all your pants and socks. But there it is, isn’t it. Look up if you’re at home now. There is an 80 percent chance you are looking at your own laundry. We are forced to live among the detritus of being alive.