Life

Rental Opportunity of the Week: The Most Deranged Landlord Move We've Seen Yet

A "nook for your toddler"? Ah, yes, of course.
12 August 2020, 1:30pm
LROTW-THUMB
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? An attic room with what I’m going to generously term a “toddler nook”.
Where is it? The grey, river-adjacent, nameless dead zone between Parsons Green and Imperial Wharf. Spiritually, it’s Fulham – it’s just not actually Fulham, is it. I think every primary school had a little try-hard no-mates kid who followed a new crew around every week trying to get them to be friends with them (if you cannot recall your primary school loser, that loser was you), bribing them with sweets and chocolate, offering to go in goal, making their mum drive you all out and pay to go in swimming. You remember the loser. Anyway, this vague nameless part of non-Fulham is basically that primary school loser made into an area of London: desperate to be part of the in-crowd, offering full-size Lion and Twix bars to the Fulhams and Chelseas either side of it, but not ever, truly, aligned with either. Oh, by the way: that loser kid? Happily married doctor, now. What the fuck are you. 
What is there to do locally? Every time we have a rental opportunity in west London I struggle more and more – uh, go to Westfield? – but looking at this on a map, the area seems to be surrounded by harbours and boat clubs and little docks where you can pull up a yacht and shit like that. You know the people who “rowed” in “uni”? They all ended up here, sockless, lurid white shirts shocking against the beat of the sun, waiting constantly for “Regatta weekend”. So I suppose the thing you can do around them, locally, is, Go To A Bar, Catch One Of Their Eyes, Be Invited To Their “Boat Party”, Be Curiously Murdered And Wash Up Bobbing On A Distant Shore, No Inquest No Verdict, Someone Who You’ve Never Met Pays The Police A Million Pounds To Pretend You Never Lived. Or: Westfield.
Alright, how much are they asking? I estimate the weekly £295 works out at £1,240 per month – though, and here’s a rare treat on this column, they do accept DSS (*1).

Do you ever think about what it’d be like to go for a pint with someone who writes like this:

HOUSING BENEFIT ACCEPTED ON A ONE BEDROOM FLAT WITH AN OPEN PLAN LIVING ROOM KITCHEN IN WANDSWORTH BRIDGE ROAD FULHAM, FLAT IS CLOSE TO 3 UNDERGROUND AND WANDSWORTH TOWN BRITISH RAIL. THE FLAT WHICH IS ON 2ND FLOOR BUILDING IS FULLY CENTRALLY HEATED, HAS A FULLY FITTED KITCHEN WITH WASHING MACHINE ALSO HAS A FULLY TILED WALK IN SHOWER AND WC, , THE FLAT IS CLOSE TO FULHAM BROADWAY,PARSON GREEN TUBE

You want crisps, mate? “YEAH CHEESE AND ONION.” What about a top up? I’m on the Neck Oil. “NO NECK OIL FOR ME MATE JUST STRAIGHT FOSTER’S.” How’ve you been anyway? It’s been ages. “IT’S BEEN AGES YEAH I’VE BEEN GOOD YEAH.” Work been busy? “BEEN BUSY YEAH I’M A LANDLORD AREN’T I.” I suppose people always need houses. “THEY ALWAYS NEED HOUSES DON’T THEY.” Wife good? Kids good? “WIFE GOOD KID GOOD YEAH.” How about any holidays? “GETTING AWAY TRICKY AT THE MOMENT.” What, with COVID? “WHAT WITH COVID YEAH BUT WE’RE THINKING ABOUT SPAIN.” Dunno about Spain, mate – rate’s been spiking out there a bit. “I WON’T BE STOPPED FROM LIVING MY LIFE.” Well then, fair play, fair play.

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Anyway, we should look at this flat, I suppose. Well, I say “flat”. We can see trends in housing emerge from afar on this column, seeing repeated aesthetic themes as they build momentum, become more popular, and after Q4 2019’s “mezzanine floor” debacle we have moved on: “highly angled ceiling attic conversions” are apparently du jour now, and this is an exemplary example of that, but I wouldn’t go so far as to furnish it with the title “flat”.

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Every single wall of the space leaning ominously in. Custom-built triangular cupboards that you cannot, simply, put a single fucking thing in. Newly-installed kitchenette with new fridge, oven, washing machine (you can always tell fittings are new because landlords never, ever take the warranty stickers off their white goods – landlords are, simply, an unaesthetic people – and though warranty stickers generally wear off or fade over the course of a lifetime of a device, all of these stickers are present and correct, which to me suggests new and wholesale installation.

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It’s also got a, uh. Well. A special nook for storing toddlers:

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So that’s a bed, up a little ladder, but it’s actually a small raw mattress flopped onto a groove within the only bedroom in the flat. So this is a one-bedroom flat, with two beds. You can sleep in your double bed, and someone else – someone extremely small, who has not learned of “claustrophobia” yet, who would delight in sleeping in a weird sort of den thing in someone else’s attic and not, for example, be sad about that – could also sleep there. So: a two-year-old.

From the listing: “DSS 1BEDROOM FLAT 10 MIN FULHAM BROADWAYTUBE IDEAL FOR MUM&TODDLER OFF KINGS RD CHELSEA NEAR SHOPS”. This nook has been designed to shelve a toddler.

I’m not sure how I feel about London landlords custom-building toddler nooks into their attic conversions, you know. Feels like an extremely ominous step in a terrible direction. I mean, what next? A nook for every child? First the toddler nook, then you can work your way up to “small child alcove”, then maybe a ten-year-old gets its first cupboard?

I know, in olden days, people used to put babies in drawers, but even then – even if you showed it to a poverty-stricken 1950s housewife with a cupboard full of triplets – a toddler nook feels a bit much. I don’t know. I try not to judge. I just personally wouldn’t want to pay £1,200 a month to stuff my toddler in a crawlspace the same way I would a Glastonbury tent. You do you!

@joelgolby

(*1) “Aha, what?” – this is you, by the way, you’re saying this – “What kind of DSS payment covers £1,240 per month?” And I’ll admit that once I was very much like you, but then someone came up to me at a thing – there’s no cool way of saying this: it was a book-signing event, and I’m sorry for dropping that in there, I apologise, I am still humble I promise – and someone came up to me and explained that she worked for a local housing association, or the council or whatever, and she had noticed that a lot of the monthly rents quoted in these columns were the exact maximum allowance of the particular DSS payments made in each particular borough, so the fees for these rentals were not only dictated by, for example, landlord greed, the disintegrating property market, catastrophic buy-to-let mistakes made in the late-90s and the sell-back of council housing to private buyers, &c. &c., but actually the particular rental figures were very often dictated by what a local council would, if they absolutely had to, pay, and I found that fascinating and depressing and unutterably corrupt.

If you’re the woman who told me that at a thing once (book signing) (it was a book signing event) (please if, you’re reading this: buy the book) please do get in touch with me, because I! Forgot! Your! Name! And I Would Like! To Know! More!