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to think landlords are taking the piss?

(149 Posts)
fridgepants Mon 04-Feb-13 09:23:22

I'm currently in a lodging/houseshare situation and it's havign a deleterious effect on my mental health - one of the main stressors is that I literally never get the place to myself - my landlord only leaves the house to go to work or to buy reduced food before the supermarket closes, and for the rest of the time uses the living room to work from home. (There's more than that but it would take forever to explain...) So it seemed that what I really need is my own space.

It turns out that for £700pcm, not including bills, what you get is a room with a single bed (or sofabed if you're lucky) and a 'kitchen' consisting of a microwave on top of a fridge. Some of these are 'bedsits', which in London means that the landlord has made the living room into a bedroom so that they can let it out for more money, and you end up paying more for a shared house with no communal space. Some of the flats looked smaller than the bedroom I have now - most had cheap shitty furniture (a bed held together with gaffer tape, or a sofa with a filthy blanket over it), but the sidebar told me I could rent furniture for a flat for £158 per month. This was searching out as far away as zone 4.

How do landlords get away with being able to charge huge sums for jerrybuilt accommodation? And why is it the case that I can earn a decent salary and am in my 30s yet not be able to afford to rent a place that's suitable for long-term habitation?

I just feel really trapped at the moment, choosing between a place that makes me feel so miserable and lonely that I keep wondering whether to just shove everything into storage and sleep in the park, or somewhere that would be equally stressful by being too small and without basic facilities.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 04-Feb-13 11:33:10

What's available for that money in that location might be shitty and dingy, but then you have the benefit of being in the right area.

You are confusing issues a bit. High rents are a separate issue form your particular landlord being a bit of a twat.

fridgepants Mon 04-Feb-13 11:38:48

'That location' was me typing 'London' into Zoopla with a price limit. The flats I saw were in Hounslow, Greenford, Acton and Turnpike Lane, not posh areas in the slightest.

emsyj Mon 04-Feb-13 11:50:21

£700pcm will get you a one bed flat within London - I don't know the areas you name, but certainly SE London has plenty of affordable and safe, if non-glamorous, areas that you could afford your own space. Zone 4 is not far out of the city or in any way comparable with shipping out to neighbouring counties - I lived in Zone 3 when I lived in London and my commute to the City was less than an hour door to door, including a fairly lengthy walk from Charing X to the office. A close friend lived in Zone 4 and her commute was 40 mins door to door. I think it's a bit odd that you refer in your OP to searching 'as far out as Zone 4' - Zones 4-6 are what you can afford and they are not ridiculously far out by any means.

emsyj Mon 04-Feb-13 11:54:49

PS Most rental properties are shitholes - even expensive ones. DH and I viewed places costing up to £1700pcm (and this was in 2006) and most of them I wouldn't have lived in if you'd paid me that tbh. It is bloody hard work finding decent rented accommodation, that isn't particular to your budget - if you had £3k a month to spend you would still view horrible places, such is life all over the country!

Labootin Mon 04-Feb-13 12:00:14

When I was single I lived in the arse end of zone 6 (bus then train the tube so got the 7.04 train to be at my desk for 9am) I lived in a shared house (all bedrooms and shared galley kitchen and the one bathroom with one toilet between 5 of us.

My bed was held up with books (combined works of Shakespeare Featured Irrc)

BECAUSE that's what happens.

Personally I would have loved to have a 30 min commute in my own flat .. But hey thems the breaks.

OP you're landlord might be an arse but that's your landlord.. It's not ALL landlords.

Labootin Mon 04-Feb-13 12:05:48

As to being comfortable walking around at night ..Is anyone truly comfortable with that .. Eee gads Where is this fabled place ? Taxi's in my old stomping ground would drive off rather than go to my home address.

fridgepants Mon 04-Feb-13 12:46:01

A friend of mine lives in Manor House which always feels really dodgy to me. I went to look at a flat up there once and when I got out the tube someone had been stabbed at the exit opposite.

Greenford is supposed to be dodgy but I never felt as unsafe roudn there than in Manor House.

emsyj Mon 04-Feb-13 13:06:11

I only ever lived in SE London, but I have a friend who lived in Stockwell and I felt very unsafe there when walking up to her house from the tube - she loved it though and felt 101% safe there walking around at night. It's a personal thing I guess, somewhere that feels very dodgy to you might feel totally comfortable to someone else and vice versa. Another friend lived in Eltham and her place felt much safer to me in that it was more settled, mostly people who'd lived there for years and years/grown up in the area, she knew all her neighbours and I felt safe walking around there at night even though it is 'scruffier' and cheaper than the part of Stockwell that my other friend lived in. You would be best off finding some areas you could afford and just walking around them to see how you feel.

DivineInspiration Mon 04-Feb-13 13:09:28

OP, before I eventually bought in London, I house-shared with all kinds of people. Some I got on with, others I didn't. It sounds like your difficulties stem largely from your landlord being a bit of an arse rather than from living with somebody else per se. The arrangement you have, lodging with a live-in landlord, is entirely different to house-sharing with other tenants where the situation is vastly more equal because you all pay the same rent and nobody owns and thus feels entitled to monopolise communal areas: have you looked around for house-shares like that? If you work for a large organisation, particularly one where lots of graduates/younger people are employed, your colleagues might be able to advise of house share vacancies they know of. I found a couple of my house-shares this way.

If you genuinely feel that your mental health would improve if you could live alone (and I entirely know the feeling) then there are affordable flats to be had in London, as long as you're prepared to compromise a bit and be realistic about what it means to live in London. When I bought my first flat in London (the one in SE18 which I now rent out) I didn't have all the dosh in the world and had to make a decision about whether to continue renting somewhere small and cramped in an affluent part of Zone 2 or buy somewhere more spacious in a suburb I'd never considered living in before. I decided to go for the latter, and it did involve me confronting some of my prejudices about shabby areas and areas with high densities of council housing - it makes me blush a little now to think about that! Don't write off areas because you once went there and it felt a little bit dodgy near the station or because somebody has been stabbed there at some point. People have been stabbed in broad daylight in all parts of London - including Oxford Street and a number of affluent, fashionable places most people think of as safe like East Dulwich, Angel, Pimlico, Balham, Stoke Newington and Fulham.

DivineInspiration Mon 04-Feb-13 13:18:20

I totally agree with emsyj, by the way. I've lived in places like Elephant, Camberwell, Woolwich and Dalston which are quite built-up and can be quite grubby and down-at-heel in the town centres, and knew them to be totally safe and welcoming, so I tend to not really notice the things about those places which put others off. Yet I've visited friends in other parts of London and felt really uneasy on the walk from the station to their house, even though the friends who live there feel the same way about their patch as I did about mine.

Where do your friends/colleagues live? Is there anybody who could help reassure you that you only feel uneasy and unsafe because it feels unfamiliar?

fridgepants Mon 04-Feb-13 14:11:24

DI - thinking about it, I've pretty much had a live-in landlord in every 'house share' I've had. The worst by far was a place where the landlord kept a room but was away for months at a time, so nothing got fixed. A couple of friends of mine rented a place together, but found out later that the landlady kept a room there so that she had a place for people to stay when they needed it - as my friend has an anxiety disorder, it wasn't ideal for her to have strangers turnign up unannounced in the kitchen. I doubt it is for anyone, to be fair. My landlord occasionally invites a friend of his to stay who sleeps on a mat int he dining room (landlord#s bedroom is a single room with a double mattress on the floor - there are no spare rooms) and doesn't say hello to me, and that's rubbish enough.

I had a look at houseshares a while ago, and there wasn't a lot that suited - the ads I saw were crammed with rules about washing up rotas, were Polish or Italian households (no issue with those per se but I imagine it might be difficult to essentially make everyone speak English all the time when you're about and it could be a source of tension if you're the only non-[language] speaker) or were Antipodean bases for travelling (which, I know from househuntings passim, are cheap because they are absolute shitholes with ten or so short-term renters at once). I've houseshared for the eight years I've been in London, the first time I looked for a new place I ended up looking at seventeen flats before I found somewhere. 'Auditioning' to potential new housemates is tiring work. (I don't get to have any say in who else lives in our flat so I don't know how tiring the other side of things is.) I'm also in my 30s and a lot of people in the ads I looked at wanted younger people or were 'party houses'.

The best house-share I had was with two friends when I first moved to London, despite it being in the middle of nowhere and a single room - they've since married and moved on. I looked at that area again last night, but with it being a student area there's not a lot going. It's also very much not on the tube - I could get a bus to my job then but not to where I am now. My SO and I are looking to live together but for job-related reasons he can't move yet and I don't know how much longer I can stay where I am without sewing prawns into the curtains or something grin - it's not a good foundation for the start of co-habiting if I'm desperate to move out of where I am.

Almost all of my colleagues own their places as they bought in the late 90s. There are two who rent, and they live in Clapham which is £700-ish for a house share. My old manager lived in Dalston and got burgled about once a year, but perhaps that's par for the course and I've just been lucky. One of my friends lives in Chiswick (which is well expensive) and my other close friend just bought her first place with her partner.

fridgepants Mon 04-Feb-13 14:14:21

The last place I lived in, I was a lodger. I moved out as it was too small and expensive and her boyfriend wanted to move in, but we got on really well, would sit together in the living room chatting or watching TV; she would sometimes go out at the weekends or go away and, unlike the house I'm in now, the tenant didn't end up eating all their meals in their rooms, because it was a relaxing place just to hang out.

fridgepants Mon 04-Feb-13 14:14:45

Grammar fail. Sigh.

MechanicalTheatre Mon 04-Feb-13 14:37:44

I feel your pain, OP, I'm in a similar situation. People sort of act like you're being entitled because you want your own space - I suffer from anxiety and social panic, living with other people is hell for me.

fridgepants Mon 04-Feb-13 14:44:18

Thank you for understanding. My landlord might be an arse - and the constant sarcastic/'clever' comments he mistakes for conversation can really fuck with my head on a bad day - but it seems to have underlined how I don't want to live with other people unless I have some kind of relationship with them. I'm not asking for a pied-a-terre in Islington, just somewhere that's not a before photo for a house fire.

I honestly don't know what people do if they find out they are having a child, if the 'studio' barely fits one person. Mind you, I looked round a flat once and on asking who was living in the other room, was told it was a couple and a nine-month old baby. I can't see a lot of people wanting to share accommodation with children, their own or other people's (I didn't as I worked shifts at the time). Not everybody can go back and live with their mum and dad, y'know?

FlouncingMintyy Mon 04-Feb-13 14:44:57

this looks nice

or this

or a studio

DivineInspiration Mon 04-Feb-13 14:56:51

What about this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

You can travel from any of those to central London in less than an hour.

MechanicalTheatre Mon 04-Feb-13 15:00:34

Where do you work OP? Not exact location, just rough idea. A lot of people are posting links, but it's pointless if the place is in SE and you work somewhere with a shit connection to there.

SuzySuzSuz Mon 04-Feb-13 15:02:27

Hi OP,
What is your current contract? Can you give notice or are you tied in for a set period?
Have a look at your work tube / rail station then have a look outward and see what towns you know or have friends there. Research your train fare from that zone and work out what you can afford rent wise from your salary. It may be a straight cut 'no' for some areas, others may have done or lots of properties. Post on here for views on areas if you aren't sure as there'll be lots of different views and info.
The further out you go the more you will get for your rent, just need to check travel costs.
It's like a massive research project which will take lots of time and effort but is so worth it when you get somewhere that feels like home.
I moved down from the NW about 10yrs ago, completely on my own, have always worked in London and have lived in Sutton, Streatham, Croydon and now a bit further out in Surrey.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Mon 04-Feb-13 15:26:29

Greenford is not particularly dodgy, I lived in Northolt for a couple of years and had no problems and know people who live in Greenford. If you want more space for your money then you have to move out a bit.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Mon 04-Feb-13 15:29:07

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Mon 04-Feb-13 15:29:50

sorry link fail

CaurnieBred Mon 04-Feb-13 15:30:46

Looking at Sydenham - how about here. i used to own a property on this development - this one says bills are included at £180 per week for a one bedroom, ground floor flat:

Sazzle41 Mon 04-Feb-13 15:37:23

I am similar to you, moved to Lodon 5yrs back. I live on the edge of Zone 4 and its 30mins door to door to central London. I have a lovely victorian flat thats £800 a month. (you get c tax rebate if you are single if that helps?). I snapped it up - its only down side is quite a small kitchen but the rest is huge ! Unfurnished is slightly cheaper too ...

The admin fee was £75 & 1 month deposit. (I saved up for that bit as I hated sharing). Could you stretch to that? Might be worth it for peace of mind ? I would only share again if it was a huge house, everyone worked outside the house and i had a huge bedroom tbh ... like you i need quiet time to myself..... Hope you sort sharing is a nightmare if you are a quiet person I know...

fridgepants Mon 04-Feb-13 15:53:07

I don't have a written contract (no houseshare in London has ever asked me for one) - I can leave whenever, give or take a month's notice. I work near Bloomsbury so I can't quite work out how good SE is. I work with someone who lives in Crystal Palace (and hated Woolwich) so I guess it is doable. DP lives in Reading at the moment, and when his job does move to London and he's out of his lease, it will be near to Paddington. So if I found somewhere and then he moved in or we stayed in the area, I'd need to consider this. SE to Paddington isn't a great link but there may be one that is.

The problem with moving out of London is that I need to transfer my psychiatric care - between boroughs this is easy, outside of the city it could take months and I'd be stuck without urgent care fi I needed it - it's a worst case scenario, but it's what has kept me in my current area for a while as I've eben trying to get the right medicvation balance for me. The other issue is how much it will cost to get a man and van to move my stuff as I don't drive. Unfurnished means I'd need money to get basic furniture so I'd need to factor this in, but I can think about it.

My landlord does work outside the house - he just works from home when he's not in the office, in the evenigns and at weekends. He is 'using up' 20 days of holiday at the moment, and is spending it...working from home in his dressing gown.

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