Life

Rental Opportunity of the Week: The New Landlord Trend Defining How We Live

Welcome to the aesthetic of every refurbished flat in the UK, i.e. "What if your drug dealer made a flat in GTA?"
15 April 2020, 12:25pm
flat to rent edgware
Photos via Zoopla
What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? An indication of a broader trend, or: how the exact same grey-and-black interior aesthetic has gorilla-gripped society despite being chillingly unwelcoming and cold, more so than many undecorated prison cells, or: obviously it's a bed in a kitchen again. Where is it? In Edgware, the end of the Northern line. You have never been to the end of the Northern line, because nobody has. In history. Nobody in history has ever gone, that far, on the Northern line. I've been down to Morden, sure. I've been down to that end of the Northern line. But can you imagine the hours, the weeks, it would take, shuddering in place on the Northern line, trying to get to Edgware? You, going past Hendon Central, Colindale? Past Burnt Oak? Past Burnt Oak? Consider that, please: you have to go to Burnt Oak, then go beyond Burnt Oak, to get to Edgware. What in red fuck is Burnt Oak? I've live in this city 12 years and I’ve never heard of Burnt
What is there to do locally? Oak. And you have to leave Burnt Oak behind to get there. There was this TV show, once, that everyone has forgotten, called "Game of Thrones", and in it, when some poor boy commits a crime – steals an apple from a cart, or something, refuses intercourse with his biological sister – they send him to "The Wall". It's a sort of kingdom-length fortification made of ice and magic that bad lads sit on top of, staring moodily out from. The whole idea of "The Wall" is that it is eons from civilisation, from humanity, from reality, and even getting there, to this "Wall", is an epic undertaking, an adventure in itself, taking you far beyond the bitter outposts of "The North". The Wall is a separate law unto itself: a place with its own rules, and its own sayings, and its own powerful hierarchy, and its own war. Nobody goes to The Wall because they are happy. They go there because they are – spiritually, or legally – condemned.
Alright, how much are they asking? That's what I'm guessing Edgware is like. Anyway, £900 pcm.

Well, let's get the brass basics of this room out the way before playtime, shall we: you've got a bed in a kitchen, here. You have the very landlordian thing of "slightly too much, and slightly too ugly, furniture": a small, useless, ugly bedside table; a small, useless, ugly kitchen table with two chairs; a large, looming, ugly wardrobe; a chest of drawers next to an errant wall by a door. (Obviously, I would complain if there was no furniture, but also I find something discomforting about the furniture landlords do issue to us: it's never fully practical, it's never fully sturdy, it's never quite matching [even in this ostensibly matching set, the kitchen table stands out], it always has an uncomfortable energy, there always seems to be too much of it – because every piece of furniture has the vibe of a bouncer that someone has hired to watch you having sex – but also there's never enough of it, because there's no actual storage in the house, so like your suitcase has to go on top of the wardrobe, [it's the only place it can go], further uglying the already ugly thing, &c. &c. So you see that landlords providing us with furniture is a double-edged sword: useful, certainly, and much better than having to buy and own and move your own personal wardrobe, again and again and again: but also, somehow, at the same time, malicious, and if you don't understand how an inanimate piece of furniture can somehow bear malice, look again at this bed).

The bathroom has one of those special small sinks they have to buy and install especially, and the shower is one of those tight cubicles that are very hard to really turn around in. No oven, but you have some sort of space-aged induction hob under an extractor fan. The classic "freestanding refrigerator used as a dividing line". You know where your kitchen ends because the fridge demarcates it. You know where your bedroom starts, because it's at the other end of the freezer. But the fridge-freezer is somehow in both spaces at once: both of the kitchen, and in your bedroom. And what I mean by that is: at 2AM, when you're being kept awake by the rumble of Tube trains and the electric glare of the beeping red digital clock on the induction heater, your fridge is just stood there, over you, humming. Hummmmm. Slowly the hum transforms into a human whisper: hummmmmm. And then it is something mechanical and human at once: hummmmmmmm. And slowly your ears adjust to the alien language, to the fantastic noises it is making: hmmmmmmmyourepaying900amonthforthishmmmmmmminfuckingedgware

But that's the reality of the flat, and we need to talk about the concept of it. Because as you will notice: nobody has ever lived in this room, in the current iteration it is in. It has been newly finished, the furniture newly bought, the kitchen newly installed. There are zero scuff marks on the floors and walls. What this suggests is this property has been recently developed into this – at the cost of a few thousand pounds, and over a few weeks of work – specifically designed into this shape. And it has been developed into a shithole. That's important.

It's important because this is the aesthetic of shitholes to come, how shitholes will look for the next five or ten years: as this place decays – as one 12-month contract after another moves into it, lives within it and moves clumsily out – the white tiles will mould, and the grey wood floors will scratch down to something dirty, and the furniture will slowly start to be held together with a key piece of tape, and underneath it the prominent aesthetic of 2020 – "What if Drake's drug dealer made a flat in GTA?" – will rub through. This hasn't been designed by someone who would ever live in a flat like this: it's been picked out by a landlord with aspirations of making more money from the small space they have by putting a sheen of too-obvious, buy-by-the-yard faux-luxury over the top of it.

If I had to guess, I'd say the person who developed this property was very young – this might be their first attempt at flipping a tiny shithole room up near Edgware into something that nets them twelve grand a year – and very green, and does a lot of Instagram posts about Forex trading and how Dubai is an aspirational holiday destination and not just Westfield with the aircon turned off, and the annoying thing about all of this – the fitting, the tastelessness, the location, the floor, the lack of an oven, the £900 a month price tag, the bed in the kitchen, the insanely tiny bathroom, the chrome, the leather, the ominous dark brown – the worst thing about all of this is that someone will almost certainly make their money back on it, within the year, and then the flat will just stand there, humming like a fridge, making them money, for ever and ever and ever, anon.

The corruption of the system is inherently baked into the grey sheen of that floor. Don't fall for it. Not in fucking Edgware, at least. Come on.

@joelgolby

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