Life

Rental Opportunity of the Week: Winner of the 'Worst Landlord Move of 2019' Award

I beg you, do not move here.
12 December 2019, 10:28am
flat to rent willesden green
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? Two wardrobes with the poisonous looming energy of small-town bouncers and two beds with the temporary energy of all the members of your family crammed into one house overnight ahead of a funeral.
Where is it? I am sorry to say it is in Willesden Green again.
What is there to do locally? Please stop asking me what there is to do locally in Willesden Green, because there is nothing to do locally in Willesden Green, and every single time I am confronted by the question (What Is There to Do Locally in Willesden Green?), as if by magic another local activity (in Willesden Green) is vanished away, forever, the culture slowly eroding – and one day, to answer it, I'm simply going to have to go to Willesden Green, aren't I, and look at that "nice alleyway" they have, and I don't want to have to get one bus and two trains just to prove a point to you people, alright.
Alright, how much are they asking? £1,052 pcm. I know what you are thinking: why not a round £1,000 a month? Well, that would make sense, wouldn't it. We’re not in the business of making sense. We’re in the business of describing the actions of landlords.

When I first moved into the flat I currently occupy, I asked the property agent who jangled the keys in front of us if he could, you know, move the enormous looming ugly wooden wardrobe out of my room, because I would prefer to have a rail instead. "No," he said, "We… no. We can't do that." Why, I asked. "It's just… we can't do that." I sent an email, again, about six weeks later, tired of looking at one of the ugliest pieces of furniture I'd ever shared a room with, overly bulky on the outside but oddly small inside, a TARDIS reversed, a pine-and-varnish monolith that stood over me ominously while I slept, and he politely ignored it.

The wardrobe is still in my room. The sofas in this place are so uncomfortable that, to make them more comfortable, we took the stiff pillows at the back of the sofa off and shoved them underneath the sofa. So, to clarify, our sofa is more comfortable without the cushions it came with that with the cushions it came with. The cushions that came with the sofa, in that regard, are by the definition of the law "not cushions". The sofas are still in our front room. We have added furniture, to this house, because those are your options: you move the furniture you own with you, cramming it into already furnished flats to make a clutter, or you simply throw them away. Renting in London is ceding the demands of your interior taste to someone else's bottom line.

You will see this recurring theme in This Beloved Column: there are two types of properties, those with ugly furniture that is falling apart, and those with newly-fitted hyper-glossy "high finish" furniture which is, also, ugly and soulless, but perceived to be worth more. Landlords in this city furnish their properties along two principles, never both, only one:

i. If I make the inside of this place look exactly like a B&Q show kitchen I can charge the cunts an extra, what, £600 a month for it? I don't know, I'm making it up as I go along; or—
ii. I have all of this spare furniture falling apart in a garage so I might as well put it in this house.

Anyway, here we have two of the most dark energy wardrobes ever seen on Gumtree, staring at your bed, which itself is a horrible, stale-looking boxframe bed, because of course it is – that's every rental bed in London. Why does the room have two wardrobes? Because it has two beds. Why does it have two beds? That, I suppose, is a question:

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It has two beds because two people are supposed to live here, two adult people, with jobs. I don't know about you, but I've always found the American college dorm tradition of "roommating" to be quite intrusive and odd (for me personally), but also a kind of rite-of-passage thing (for Americans as a whole), so while I wouldn’t want to share a small dorm room with another person, lying rigidly in the dark, feet away from me, masturbating or thinking of masturbating – or worse, studying – I get that it's a thing first-year college students do: they all go and try to get hazed into a sorority or frat, they all take exactly one honk on a bong and say "woah", they all live in dorm rooms, they all walk out of their dorm rooms into the quad in their dressing gowns and slippers once a year each winter to marvel at the frozen body of one of their fellow students who were mysteriously slain in the night (a lot of these cues I have taken from movies).

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This is a thing Americans do exactly once then never again. Nobody beyond the age of 19 is comfortable sleeping in the same room as a roommate, and even then you have to assume they are not. Listen, you're an adult now, aren't you: would you go back to halls right now, given the chance? That old dump? With the pans in the sink and the 3AM fire alarms? That stoner kid who had psychosis and tried to pry your door open with a golf club? No, you wouldn't. It did in a pinch when you were 18 and thought Snakebites were an exciting and illicit new thing to drink, but it will not do now.

But what about if I said you could revisit your old university living situation and it was in Willesden, and it cost £1,052 a month, and someone else was there, in the room, with you? Would that make it better, or would that make it worse? You are right in thinking it would make it much worse.

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So the studio apartment itself: one shared sleep-cum-leisure area w/ a fold-out table (you and the human adult you sleep in the same room as but not with can share a meal on that, if you want to. I don’t know what you would talk about. "You scream a lot when you sleep," that sort of thing); one windowless kitchen alcove w/ bizarre folding patio door entranceway; one bathroom w/ a sink the size of a shoebox; one shower alcove w/ a shower that, judging by the way the hose is facing then coiling back on itself, has somehow been mounted into the wall upside-down; one area where two four-way extensions have been wall-mounted in a way that suggests there are only two plug sockets in this room and they are both over there; one heartbreakingly depressing shabby chic sign reading "TODAY IS A GOOD DAY".

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Is today a good day, ever, in Willesden, where you're paying £526 a month to sleep next to someone else in a single camp bed? I feel like Trading Standards can surely make a worthwhile case against that sign alone. Don't move here, please. I know I don't have to say it, but I feel like I should anyway.

@joelgolby