Rental Opportunity of the Week: Would You Pay £610 for a Bed in a Kitchen?

Quite a lot of furniture in this “kitchen”, isn’t there?
A studio to rent in Heathrow
Photo: Gumtree
What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? No, you have to read it: he’s like, slicing these little flats and things up—

Where is it? Yeah, almost the exact same thing every week – 

What is there to do locally? OK but: Do you remember when you lived in Limehouse and the landlord withheld your entire deposit because you left an open tub of bicarbonate of soda in the fridge? Or that time you lived in Wapping for 12 months and for 11 months, and 25 days into that tenancy the intercom didn’t work, like at all, to the point where you just stopped ordering takeaways because the faff of letting delivery drivers in to the building was too profound?


And six weeks after you moved out, when they still hadn’t done the inventory, the landlord called you really urgently while you were at work saying, “Yeah yeah, just fixing the intercom, now here’s the thing: It’s gonna cost £1,800” and you said “Shaun, I moved out six weeks ago, can I have my deposit back please”, and you sort of audibly heard him put his phone down and say to someone else “they moved out” and then he came back on the line and said, “That’s breach of tenancy and I’m going to have to charge you £1,800, yeah sorry to say that’s breach of tenancy” and you were 25 and still didn’t really know how the law worked, so you just said a baffled OK?

And then you moved away and took on extra shifts and got your dad to lend you £800 for a bit even though he was really fucking huffy about it, and then after all that you ended up back at that building for a house party in 2018 and the intercom still didn’t work? Do you remember that? No, stop crying. You’ve gone all red, look. No, so yeah the column is sort of about all that, all those sort of things— 

Alright, how much are they asking? Yeah, in London, yeah: Here’s a flat you can rent, if you like. If you like! Rent it if you like! I don’t care! I can’t tell you how to live your life anymore, I have realised that. I have not got my own affairs in order. I am not living life right myself. I have 300 tabs open across three browser windows. I don’t actually know what my salary has been over the last two-and-a-half years. I fail to get Wordle right like, once every four days. I keep waking up in the middle of the night for an hour because I’m thirsty! I plug extension leads into extension leads! I have had “make doctor’s appointment” on my to-do list for over six months! I just keep moving it from list to list but never doing it!


Do you not understand how insane that is? I make a list, then fill the list up, then copy the un-done contents of the to-do list from one page to another, and just keep moving the box saying “see doctor” across from August to January! Can you imagine was state of disrepair I am going to be in when a medical professional finally gets to see me! “Mr Golby, you’re supposed to have two kidneys” sort of thing! Absurd! So do not listen to me. Anyway here’s the flat:

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Quite a lot of furniture in this kitchen, isn’t there? Well: “kitchen”. There’s a sink and there’s a fridge. There’s no real chopping surface because that space has been given over to the microwave and the two-hob. So this is more a philosophical question than an absolute kitchen. At what point does a small collection of white goods become a “kitchen”? How hot does a device have to get before it can cook food? Is it a kitchen before or after you put a chipboard chest of drawers in there? From here on in, the word kitchen will have inverted commas around it. Quite a lot of furniture in this “kitchen”, isn’t there?

London landlords have a fascination with furniture: They either give you too much or too little of it, but it’s never actually good in any way, and quite often hampers you instead of helps. Wardrobes always sliding drunkenly to one side. Drawers where the top drawer collapses into the second-from-top drawer in a way where both of them just get stuck permanently in place. Who amongst us has not had an IKEA bed drastically collapse beneath them mid-fuck? Sofas with weird low backs you can’t actually recline on; the one kitchen chair you have to tell guests to sit “carefully” on; the wrong piece of furniture in completely the wrong room, so everyone’s just stopped asking why there’s a desk in the bathroom.


When I first viewed the flat I am currently living in, there was an enormous plant pot with a dead tree in it taking up approximately one-eighth of the available floorspace downstairs. “And is that going?” we asked the estate agent. “Oh you want that gone? Hmm. Well, we can ask.” You have to ask landlords to take furniture so bad it is junk out of the flat for you. You have to send a polite e-mail and hope they say yes. The plant in it was dead, to reiterate. There is too much furniture in this “kitchen”.


Reasonably, the first piece of “too much” furniture in the “kitchen” is the bed: A bed should not be in a kitchen, even if this “kitchen” isn’t really a kitchen. But a bed should not be in it. But there is nowhere else in this flat for a bed to go, so it has to go in the kitchen: I’m not happy about it, but fine. But surely, logically, if you are so starved of space that you have to put a bed in the “kitchen”, you can whittle down the other pieces of furniture to only the necessities.

For example: You do not need a dinner table, do you? You need a wardrobe, sure, but it’s a very large wooden box just to keep clothes in. You could feasibly get away with just the chest of drawers you have in the “kitchen”. You do not need the second chest of drawers next to it, as well as the wardrobe, as well as the dinner table.

What you absolutely don’t need is the single-doored cupboard in the corner which, due to the work surface in the “kitchen” being directly next to it, you cannot even open. Look at the cupboard again: You cannot open that cupboard. You could maybe open the cupboard if you could slide it out from the corner it is in – an elegant and unnecessary fix, but a fix nonetheless – but you cannot do that because a chest of drawers is in the way, and that is rammed up against the bed. And the bed is rammed up against the wardrobe. Realistically, to open that cupboard up in the corner of the “kitchen”, you have to move four sizeable pieces of furniture before you can wiggle it out and open it. Why is it there, then? Why is it there? Why is it there? Why is it there?

The rest of the flat is just grim (I haven’t even mentioned it’s in Heathrow, but it’s in Heathrow. You were just trying to justify it to yourself, then, weren’t you? “It’s not that bad, really – it’s just a bit furniture-y.” No. Wrong. It’s bad and a bit furniture-y and in Heathrow.). Curtains tied up so they don’t get wet from the washing up surface; a yellowed paper lampshade hanging like a bulge down from the ceiling; wires trailing through the kitchen; walls painted the colour of a child who is about to throw up; a weirdly ornate bathroom mirror; a special small sink installed in the same room, a sink that can barely hold a pint of water; toilet roll with a single square of paper left on it.

These, alone, are not enough to make a flat bad. But put a £610 a month price tag on it, put it in Heathrow, and stuff it with so much ugly furniture that you can’t actually open half of it, and yes, I’m willing to say this one is bad. Don’t listen to me! I don’t know how to live my life either! But don’t move here, to sleep amongst furniture in not even a kitchen. That seems like a bad idea, even to me.