London Rental Opportunity of the Week: A Cupboard for Students in Old Street
Oh so many things wrong with this one.
What is it? Three interconnecting cupboards and slim-to-zero natural light in the vague shape of a new-build flat;
Where is it? Old Street;
What is there to do locally? Literally the best thing there is to do in Old Street is go to the roundabout, which they have tried to make into a sort of hub of fashionable little lunch restaurants and pop-up bars, and there is currently a cookie dough shop there at the moment (the cookie dough is served as if it is ice cream???? That sort of thing????) but then nobody seems to have considered the fact that I don't care how nice this £7 box of chilli is if I have to eat it in Europe's smoggiest roundabout, and so consider you are in a vortex both of i. smog and dirt coming from the cars and trucks circling above you, and ii. smog and dirt coming from the tube trains below you, and in the eye of that storm you are supposed to eat a salad and feel fine about it. So essentially, what I am saying here is: I feel the modus operandi of Old Street is deeply flawed, because of the smog and dirt'
Alright, how much are they asking? £1,785 a month, or £595 each if you somehow find two other people to share with.
In many of life's bigger and more expensive events, you expect a little tenderness. A wedding, for example, should be all smiles and delight; quiet whispering ahead of the thrill of the ceremony, the chaos of the reception. When you buy a fancy coat you cannot quite afford in a designer store you expect it to be folded nicely, packaged in tissue paper, handed to you delicately in a sturdy string-handled bag. Enrolling at university. Buying a new car. Going on holiday, staying at a nice hotel. When large sums of money are extracted from you in a moment that feels like disorder, we like the landing to be softened a little by the actions of those around us. We like a little cushioning, a little kindness. Consider moving house: they say that it the most stressful event you can put yourself through, ever. Let's see what the letting agents here in Old Street have for us by way of gentleness to make it easier:
WOW OKAY NOT FUCKING ABOUT HERE THEN ARE WE. But let's dive deeper. In this, the letting agents (Greenlands Property) are saying: hey, there's no room letting here. You cannot grab this primo piece-of-shit property and sublet it out to people, making your own profit. The cream, Greenlands Property, the cream of this particular milk goes only to them. So help you god if you try and come in here and take their cream out their mouths. So help you god.
But the message also says: we are violently tired of people trying to rent this property and room let. It says: we have had enough time wasters now, thank you, trying to get their sticky paws on our cream, and now we just want three placid third-year students to take this property and not fuck it up too much.
And the message also says: we are some real fucking dumbshit letting agents, because we have opened this advert with one of the most bluntly direct and least welcoming triptych of all caps words ever committed to Spareroom.co.uk, like there is no way on earth anyone in any form of right mind is going to look at the wording of this advert and think, 'Yes, that sort of foreboding TURN-BACK-YE-AT-THE-BRIDGE-LEST-THY-SOULS-BE-CONSUMED welcome is just what I needed to feel at home, let me give these people 60 percent of my income every month.'
Fans of this column (there has to be one, surely, by now) will know that I personally have very little time for letting agents or anyone who profits from property in general: I consider them all to be shadow-souled demi-human sub-scum, concerned only with the pursuit of gak and property, forever and ever amen, somehow charging £250 to make a new set of keys up or do some simple filing, and that all they do all day is buzz around in vinyl-wrapped Minis and look at their desk phone, hollowly considering how to further screw honest people over so they can plough ever more money into gear.
But I also want to mention that the above people are also – and this is quite universal – not just bad, but shit-thick, like idiots, like I think if I were to round up 100 lettings agents in a room and challenge them all to tie and untie their shoelaces in less than a minute, that maybe only 18 or 20 of them would even get close to passing that task; and there has to be an argument here for whether stupid and evil can ever truly overlap, like if someone's head is so empty can they ever really push the machinations of their tiny mind into the shape or direction of evil, or do they just baseline out at malice because they are shit-thick and don't know any better, and what I am saying is that is probably an argument for another day. Estate agents, in review: bad, but also very, very stupid.
Anyway, let's look at this shithole:
A good, welcoming kitchenette that has two entire doors that open onto it, and if I know anything about shitty new build flats by now, I would put money on the fact that both of those doors do swing in to the kitchen, so that when you are stood in there trying to make a simple pasta dish (this task is rendered next to impossible because that right there is a glass-surface electric hob, i.e. the least viable tool for boiling water in a pan ever invented in history) so that when you try to make simple pasta one Wednesday night after work your flatmates keep coming through into the kitchen and either: i. full on knocking you out with a Kramer-like door swing; ii. walking and edging past you in full gym kit while saying "sorry" and "sorry mate"; or iii. carrying all their shopping past you because, as best I can tell, this two-door kitchen nook is also one of the flat's primo thoroughfares, so all-in-all the design of this room gets a solid 1 out of 10 for me—
"Yeah, babe, come back to mine, I sleep on a folded-down sunbed and the only decorations I have on my walls are four postcards and the grey smeary fingerprints of the people who lived here before me. My rent? Heh, yeah, weirdly I have to pay them, and not the other way around: £595 per calendar month, since you asked—"
"I, as King of the house, have the biggest room, which is a space exactly big enough for one single bed and a little bit of floor space so I can have a clothes rail as well. This is the premium room in the flat. This is the good room in the flat. I am essentially paying six ton a month to live in a cupboard—"
"Welcome to our shared bathroom! We have a shower head fixed to a wall at such a height that anyone over 5' 9" can't comfortably use it; we got a shower screen that absolutely doesn't go over far enough so whenever you use said shower the floor gets absolutely piss-soaking; and we haven't really got enough floor space in there anyway, so we have to put our scales set up against the wall like a sort of fun decorative. Please recall we are paying £595 pcm for this—!"
I mean, compared to some of the London Rental Opportunities of the Week, this isn't the worst, but that's damning with faint praise. This is the floor space of a miserly one-bed stretched and badly designed into the shape of a three-bed because someone thought they could make more money out of it if they did, and then it's being calculatedly targeted to students because they are seen by the property industry as half-desperate, deadline- and location-dependent easy marks. The flat isn't bad, exactly, is what I'm saying, but it is very much the red rash on the skin that acts as a symptom of a deep rot within.
Well! Have a good week!