Rental Opportunity of the Week: This Photo Shows Everything Wrong with Renting in Cities

Just when you think it can't get any worse... it gets way, way worse!
16 July 2020, 7:45am
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? A toilet in a shower, and that shower is in a kitchen. A sort of Russian doll thing, I guess. Make your dinner, then shower, then shit; shit then shower then make your dinner. Then make your dinner, then shower, then—
Where is it? In Ilford, which yeah, technically it's London, but come on, it’s fucking pushing it. Like: it’s fucking pushing it.
What is there to do locally? There's a JRC Global Buffet in Ilford, and I don’t really care what else any town has going for it if it has one of those warehouse-sized all-cuisines buffets, because nothing you have to offer me is going to top that. Just me over here on some weird grey-but-glittering floor tiles, under thousands of downlights, eating slices of dry pizza with a curry on top, how about you? Yeah, hello, yeah, we’re just in JRC Global Buffet having a pint of Carlsberg and an ice cream sundae, can you see us? Yeah, hi, we’ve got a two-hour slot at JRC Global Buffet and we’re treating that as more of a challenge than an invitation, so I’m on my third plate of chow mein topped with chicken poppers and I’m gearing up for a fourth. Yeah, you alright? I know this plate is pretty full, but is there any way you can put an entire Tandoori on top of this fry-up? Condiments are raita, ketchup, gravy. Imagine if you had to experience all the food you’ve ever eaten in all your life in one overwhelming mouthful. That is what buffet is about. An art-form; a tradition; a way of life.
Alright, how much are they asking? £800 pcm.

A Peek Behind The Curtain, With JG™: I go through a lot of property listings to find the right one for these columns. Somewhere between dozens and hundreds. There is a certain, hard-to-define level of shit I’m looking for, because, face it, most London flats are shit: when have you really ever had enough space either side of your bed to get out of it comfortably? When have you ever had a non-damp patch in your bathroom? When have you ever had an extractor fan that doesn’t scream like a witch every time you turn the bathroom light on? When have you ever had a non-ugly wardrobe, made out of anything besides MDF or that cheap varnished pine that is mainly knots? When have you ever had the right amount of furniture (one two-person sofa for a household of four, but inexplicably three dinner tables, all folded up in the corner)? Shitness is a miasma that has infected this entire city. It is inescapable. It is so pervasive it is hard to even notice it’s there.

So basically, I am looking for shit-shit, an extra level of shitness, a shit so shit that people in shit flats can go, "That is shit" – and normally that jumps out to me in the form of one single photograph. Here is that photograph:

flat to rent ilford

Yes, that is a sink that is too small to balance a single dispenser of soap on it, yes. If you press the pump of that soap with anything more than 10 percent power it’s going to shoot off into the stratosphere. Also, you’ll notice the bleach, in shot, which is for the toilet behind you. Also, you’ll notice the detachable shower head, because this is your shower. This sink is in your shower. This sink is directly under your shower. Every time you have a shower, your sink (the exact kidney-shaped size and shape of a bedpan) will fill up with shower water, because it is directly under your shower. You have to curve your naked body away from the sink so you don’t scrape yourself on the tap of it. Your toilet bleach bobs lightly in a film of your shower water. If you want to go to the toilet in the immediate aftermath of your shower, you will have to do it barefoot or in sliders (no socks), because the floor of your bathroom will be wet with shower water, for days, because it is your shower.

Once every month on Twitter there is some "do u lot wee in the shower 🤢" viral post that gets everyone mad, and whoever lives here is triggered by that, because they have literally no choice but to wee in their shower, because their toilet is built into their shower and their shower is built into their toilet. Look:

flat to rent ilford
flat to rent ilford
flat to rent ilford

If we zoom out, you’ll notice the shower–toilet hybrid is situated inside the kitchen (I say kitchen: it’s a plug-in hob, a microwave, a mini-fridge and a bunch of cupboards. You can cook more complicated meals with a cigarette lighter adapter plugged into most cars). That room is right next to the front door, which is also oddly unnerving: the fact that, should you leave the front door unlocked by accident, someone can barge directly into your house, and immediately – through the unfogged glass of your bathroom! – watch you either shower or shit, or both.

This is a studio flat, so listed for one person, and I cannot imagine a couple here, but as ever with these places I do wonder about the complications of a hook-up: you, three-shags-knackered in the kitchen area at 7AM, waiting for the person you spent all night in Gordon’s Wine Bar with to finish their shower, asking if you’ve got a towel they can throw over the door so they can piss without you seeing. They weren’t shy last night, but the enormously depressing vibe of your flat has made them want to hide. A single pane of frosted glass would make this whole arrangement ten times more bearable, but still very bad. That’s the depths we are into here.

flat to rent ilford
flat to rent ilford

Rest of the flat has some stuff going on: there’s an ominous cage fitted over one of the windows (nobody ever fits a cage over a window for aesthetic reasons, they fit a cage over a window because "something happened"): that small slither of floor space beyond the kitchen and next to the caged window is where your bed is meant to go. There’s an illustrative photo of the wardrobe placement that suggests, if you want to fit a bed and a wardrobe in this flat – and not just a bed or a wardrobe – the best place to put the wardrobe is directly in front of the window, obscuring it completely.

So if you spin around and think about it, what even is this room? A front door that leads into a space barely enough for a bed, but also has a kitchenette squeezed in, and within that kitchenette, a toilet? I’m pretty sure someone has converted their hallway – or maybe their entryway, truly; it might be this room was previously designed as an addendum to a house where postal workers can nip in and drop parcels, single fern plant and a big pile of shoes, and someone realised the space was more or less the dimensions of a double bed, and an idea was born from there – into a flat, and that flat is in Ilford, and they have the nerve – the sheer nerve – to ask you for £800 per month to sleep and eat and shit in it, all in the same room, looming under a shower head.

I’m all for JRC Global Buffet, but there are more practical ways to live near it.