Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why renting in London is absolutely ludicrous

This probably not the latest discovery, but there might be the slightest chance that things change if enough people nag about it (and may it only be in a parallel universe).

Every year - often in lovely Autumn -, thousands, millions in the UK capital decide they are bored with their place and it's time to commit to London's favourite past-time: flat-hunting. Accordingly, there's a bazillion of crappy estate agents all over the place. With their offices in fierce competition for the shabbiest design. Occasionally (well, actually always), I wonder if these idiots haven't quite understood the benefits of an inviting, modern office space. If the point of entry looks sub-standard, why the hell would I expect the properties to be any better? In a normal country, any self-respecting landlord trying to advertise would probably turn around on the heel.

Today, I had the joy of seeing the completely desolate place, in the company of an overly joyful agents. «Those lights, the space, isn't it wonderful?!?» *joyful grin, grin, smile* And why the hell is the wall moulding in the bathroom? Is this silicon, or is the mould keeping the water from running through the wall? Paint was the only thing keeping the windows together. But hey, «it has central heating». Any huge building has bloody central heating! What's the point of heating, if the warmth's first thought is swish out and away through the gaps and creaks in the rotten frames anyway? [1] I don't even want to start about the floors, curtains and bed...

Alright, at least at the top end, one would imagine the flats to be good, if not even spotless? Wrong. Imagine a ~80sqm flat near Old Street in a redeveloped building. Top floor, a penthouse, over-seeing a sizeable part of the city, only minutes away from Moorgate, Liverpool street. Bright, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, open-plan kitchen-living room area with a large balcony. Ahhhh, can you see it? Brilliant, isn't it? Well, for a booming price-tag of £550 per week I would expect it to be perfect. Quite surprisingly (not!), that wasn't the case.

The sink is moulding away.moulding sink

And so is the wall next to the skylight. Presumably, because it doesn't close properly.

The plaster and paint jobs were done terribly. What is it with the nation-wide lack of masking tape? At all the doors I could see wall paint on the door-frame or vice versa door-paint on the walls. I've come to see paint on the glass of windows to be an English hallmark.

Of course the floors were completely scratched, scraped, grated, clawed, splintered throughout. Must have been quite an effort to get this job done.

I fully understand that there is a degree of wear and tear in any flat. What is beyond my understanding (and tolerance) is the fact that agents actively conceal these shortcomings and that is it generally accepted to rent out accommodation in plain-awful conditions. Why not repair things?

[1] Has the UK signed the Kyoto protocol? Solid iron frames aren't the smartest thing to reduce energy consumption. Oh and then are those regulations to maintain the outside appearance of a building uniform and 'pretty'. Hu? If the whole complex has more similarity to a decaying Russian power plant than a housing estate, do you think anyone would give a rat's ass if one flat's windows were slightly different? No, no, let's just put another kilometer of paint over the rusty ancient things.

Post scriptum: Fantastic, being all absorbed in ranting, I've burnt my food. Anyone for smoky homemade Ramen?