Life

Rental Opportunity of the Week: This Wardrobe-Kitchen Is Peak Landlord

In a way, there is something admirable about building a wardrobe into a kitchen unit: it is a wholly original thought.
26 June 2020, 1:25pm
Studio to rent on Holloway Road London
Photo: Zoopla
What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? Well it’s a studio flat, isn’t it, because it almost always is. I’ve been without internet for three full weeks now, so it’s fair to say my brain has leaked out of my ears and whatever remaining scraps of thought left are hot and hazy and deranged – I Was a Sane Man Before the 277 Bus Crashed Through My Interchange, and Now I Am a Mad One – but I think there’s something close to a conspiracy at play, here.

London’s shitholiest flats are not for sharing, they are for solo occupation. They are listed as being suitable for couples but they are not. And so, in a way, London landlords are indirectly subscribing to the idea that it is OK to rent shitholes to people just because they happen to be unmarried or single. This is yet another tax levered against the unfuckable. Not only have you not got anyone to toss you off but you have to live in a sub-standard half-flat as well. And you’ll never convince anyone to toss you off because if you meet someone out or go on a date and invite them back to yours, they are going to see the fact that your toilet is in the middle of your sitting room, or whatever, and refuse to toss you off and then leave. So now you’re single and in a shithole and remain untossed off, on and on again and again every day the same, forever. What hope is there left when you already live in hell?

Where is it? Right in the midst of Archway – like, right in the midst, actually on Holloway Road, you are able to see Archway Station from the window. I have a complicated fondness for Archway – it’s a sort of rugged, grey concrete, permanently pollution-fuzzed hellscape where ambulance sirens are constantly blaring and there is Simply Always a Fight Going on in McDonald’s, but you actually don’t get many places left in London that still have that knife-edge of danger to them, and it makes it quite fun. The day they redesign the roundabout to make it in any way workable and start to sheen over the crumbling edges with newbuild flats is the day we lose the city. Keep Archway shit.

What is there to do locally? Normally, I would point out the merits of the local branch of Wetherspoons in this bit (Archway Wetherspoons is particularly good because it has both things that make a Wetherspoons notable: in a cavernous, fantastic old building; a very dark energy pervading throughout it) but we can’t do that now because Wetherspoons is cancelled, and though I am happy to stick to the principle of Not Going to Wetherspoons Anymore Because They Dicked on Their Staff, I am going to have to find a new way to orient my way around the city in their lieu. I don’t actually know any of the Tube map. I just navigate around based on a vague sense of where the nearest Chicken Club is.

Alright, how much are they asking? Want you to know this is advertised as "student friendly" before you read the price bit: £850 p.c.m.

I’ve seen a hundred studio flats in my time, a million studio flats. I’ve seen toilets in kitchens and showers, too. I’ve seen looming, hovering bed-floors built awkwardly over the top of living rooms. I’ve seen washing machines rammed in bathrooms so the door doesn’t close. I’ve seen a lot – a lot – of things. I’ve never seen a wardrobe built into a kitchen unit, though. That is a new one on me:

In a way, there is something admirable about building a wardrobe into a kitchen unit: it is a wholly original thought. It is rare that innovation happens, anymore. It is rare anyone, truly, has an idea that has not already been had. London landlords, forced by ever limiting circumstances that they themselves enforce, are demons for it, though. Who has ever looked at a kitchen unit running along a wall, turned and looked at the bed lurking in the corner of the same room behind it, and thought, “Hmm. Whatever cunt lives here is probably going to need a wardrobe. People need wardrobes”? I will tell you who. People who clip their phone to their belts and wear fleece vests. Sus terra dominum.

Some of you might be looking at a wardrobe built into a kitchen and be thinking: well it’s not that bad, is it? Where else would you put the wardrobe in a flat this small?, and in a way you have a point. This is a tiny studio flat built looming over the campus nearby – it’s intended for students, and students only own, like, three things (laptop, suitcase full of clothes, and then either a pyramid-style tower of every can they’ve ever drunk or an ornately decorated corkboard featuring a Polaroid of every person they’ve ever met in their lives, studded through with fairy lights). You might get one or two students who have a "cap collection" but broadly they are – and rightly, I may add – shunned as freaks.

In that context, a kitchen wardrobe makes sense. But then I would also like you to imagine the psychologically jarring experience of going to the kitchen to get your t-shirt on in the morning. Look what you’ve got, here: a clear plastic tub with all your underwear and socks in, and then just look, just to the right here, inches away from it: that plate of salad you made last night thinking you’d finally made the pivot to "salad person" but then you got 70 percent of the way through the salad and the salad started to feel endless, like a punishment, you’ve been eating this salad for 45 minutes now, how much more balsamic vinegar can your body take, and you put the salad down, here, in the kitchen, and vowed you’d wrap it up and eat it for lunch the next day (“I’m a salad person, now!” — you, an idiot) but then about 10 PM came and the hunger pangs with it and you went down the shop for £2.50 cheesy chips, and the sallow yellow polystyrene tray is still there, isn’t it, with the plastic fork you broke the tines off in the top of it, the salad wilting on the side, forgotten, all the little crumbs of unmelted white-yellow cheese and those few hard chips that didn’t make the cut still there, festering, congealed a little in a jacket of oil of their own making, and all this food is out – yet another job you have to do, clean this food up, get rid of the food smell – but all this food is out and giving off food fumes here, right here, right next to all the clothes in your wardrobe.

That feels wrong, doesn’t it? It feels like those things should be demarcated. And so you come around to my argument. You agree with me that the kitchen–wardrobe is not a thing to be enjoyed.

Rest of the flat’s just a shithole flat, isn’t it: rickety-looking single bed, tiny bathroom with exceptionally tiny sink, special small landlords-are-the-only-people-alive-who-know-where-to-buy-this two-burner hob, &c. &c. &c. There’s a roof garden but it has absolutely no plants or furniture on it, so that’s just a roof. You have access to the roof. Inoffensive, sure, but then this costs £850, and the first line of the property listing is very insistent that you have a job – “** Only for Professionals or Students **” it says – the two genders – because London lettings agents are obsessed with Professionals, the idea of The Professional, which broadly just means "has a job" but more specifically a salaried one, cash-in-hand need not apply.

I find that oddly offensive: that someone would have to jump through the hoop of having a salary just for this shit, just for a wardrobe baked in to a tiny kitchen slopped down in the middle of a bedroom, on the loudest main road in Archway, in a single bed. For £850 a month. I know my brain has died in its skull this past three weeks, but even I don’t think that’s a great idea.

@joelgolby

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