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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.

Hullygully Tue 05-Feb-13 13:32:05


PureQuintessence Tue 05-Feb-13 13:39:05

Really Manic Theatre. grin
You could have fooled me, with your swearing an' all.

Seriously OP, look at the links for the studio flats in Turnham Green and Hammersmith. They are pretty central, and on the tube in towards Bloomsbury.

It is shit when you feel there is nothing you can do to improve your situation. I know the feeling (mine is not housing related though, but work)

fridgepants Tue 05-Feb-13 13:44:09

It seems an odd way to 'improve your lot' by taking a duller, worse paying job.

When I lived in a different part fo the country and my contract ended (the advice I was constantly given was 'you should move to London as there's more of the industry there') the only things going were admin. Not only am the worlds' worst admin person, but I was constantly being told I was over-qualified for positions. Where I grew up, one would be exceptionally lucky to be earning £13k a year - and again, they don't tend to employ those with degrees even fresh out of study as 'we don't think you'll stay'.

I'm in a well-paying job, doing somethign which interests me, which has regular hours and a strong work-life balance ethos, and with management who understand my condition (the amount of temp jobs I lost after confiding in supervisors that I'd changed meds and might be a bit slower for a week or two as a result was astonishing) - it's given me a sense of stability which was lacking in my life for a very long time. I'm not seeing how giving this up is going to solve the problem.

PQ - I've looked at flatshares where a whole family with a baby rented a single room next to me. I don't imagine it's fun at all, and I don't envy those who have children, or who feel they have to wait to buy to start a family. I can complain about how I feel while also recognising how it would be worse, but I don't think discomfort or unhappiness is a zero-sum game, so I'm not sure how that helps.

fridgepants Tue 05-Feb-13 13:45:40

PQ - thanks for the links, I will take a look.

I've just started a new position and am earning a little bit more for a while and improving my CV a bit while I do maternity cover- I have a couple of friends having a shite time with work at the moment and I feel very lucky. Hope it improves soon.

PureQuintessence Tue 05-Feb-13 13:48:27

To be honest, I know that not everyone agree. But when I feel particularly down in the dumps, it sort of helps to realize that my situation could be worse. That there are people worse off than me. It does not help on a practical level, but it helps my perspective, and it is a comfort to know that at least it is not as bad as living in a swamp/tent etc.

What infuriates me though, is competitve "oh I have it so bad," "oh, no I have it much worse" that really get on my tits.

Sorry if you did not find my posts helpful.

Mosman Tue 05-Feb-13 13:51:24

I'm in a well-paying job, doing somethign which interests me, which has regular hours and a strong work-life balance ethos, and with management who understand my condition (the amount of temp jobs I lost after confiding in supervisors that I'd changed meds and might be a bit slower for a week or two as a result was astonishing) - it's given me a sense of stability which was lacking in my life for a very long time. I'm not seeing how giving this up is going to solve the problem.

Quite honestly i don't know what you're fucking moaning about then grin

PureQuintessence Tue 05-Feb-13 13:51:29

What grates me a bit is when I think about my parents, for example, when they were my age, they were really sorted. Stable jobs, good home, etc.

People the same age today dont have that. It seems to me we all struggle in different way. 30, 40 still not being "comfortable" still not having a stable life with good jobs and decent homes.

How many years shall we work, and how old must we be to become "comfortable"? When will this happen?

PureQuintessence Tue 05-Feb-13 13:51:56

You just need to get out of that flatshare with that crazy landlord!

fridgepants Tue 05-Feb-13 13:55:45

I think I'm just a bit touchy about that as I had an ex who would dismiss me with 'well, you're not homeless, so you can't really be depressed...' Which is true on one level, but....sigh. I'd just feel guilty because, well, are you allowed to be depressed if you're not homeless/unemployed/dying from nose cancer?

I've spoken a lot to DP over the past couple of days and if things fall into place, we may be able to start looking for somewhere together a lot sooner than planned. I tend to hide a lot of what I'm feeling as we don't live in the same city and I don't want him to worry about how I'm doing too much - I've said little about it on here as it sounds awfully melodramatic and, well, mental written down, and even more so spoken out loud on the phone. He is not keen to rush into the first place we see, though, so it also depends on what's out there at the time - looking at SE places is a great suggestion but we need to work out commutes, and when it will happen, and whether I can stay put in the meantime and stick it out or should move sooner rather than later.

MechanicalTheatre Tue 05-Feb-13 13:57:16

Yes, I don't know what you're fucking moaning about OP hmm

How dare you have a decent job? It doesn't matter if you're puking up in your room every night because you feel so bad, let's all just have a big joke, shall we?

It was in the Evening Standard a bit ago that the average age to buy a house in London these days was 50-odd. Depressing shit.

MechanicalTheatre Tue 05-Feb-13 13:58:32

Average age to buy your first house, I mean.

fridgepants Tue 05-Feb-13 14:01:17

Mosman - I'm massively lucky workwise, I know! But my living situation is stressing me to the point where it affects my work, which isn't helpful. (And 'well-paying' probably wouldn't seem so to many on here - it's not enough to rent a one-bed grin but I am so lucky now compared with a few years ago.)

PQ - my parents bought their home in cash in 1980. Admittedly in what's now a poor area, but they never had mortgage or rent to worry about, even when my dad was out of work at times. Neither of them had help from family and my mum didn't work for a few years when I was born which would have been more difficult for someone to do today. However, my dad was astonishingly bad with money - he had a professional job, but we never seemed to have any left at the end of the month (we went on one family holiday in his lifetime, rented our TV and didn't have Sky or a computer, my mum's clothing was rarely new) and he died owing a big loan due to some tax situation which means my mum had to sell her house to a buy and rent back place. I feel pretty angry about that, not because it would have made a difference to me if things had been different, but because my rent or a mortgage payment is the biggest expense for most people month to month and my mum could be a lot more comfortable than she is now if they'd taken advantage of that early.

Mosman Tue 05-Feb-13 14:04:43

My experience of life as an older person than many, younger than some is that it tends to come in waves. Work is shit, home is great, home is great work is shit.
Very few people manage to get all the ducks in a row and everything right at the same time. If I had to choose at the moment which i'd want to be going well it would be work.

LessMissAbs Tue 05-Feb-13 14:05:06

Your landlord likes to use his own living room, and once disagreed with your flatmate over watching Coronation Street. Thats basically what it boils down to. Its not his fault you don't own your own place, property prices are high, London is an expensive city. You have MH issues. It is possible that you could also be quite difficult to live with.

You sound depressed and as if you are interpreting everything as being gloom and doom when its not that bad. You have a good job, which is fortunate, a DP, whom you might move in with soon. You have prospects. You could, if you wanted, give a months notice and find somewhere better. But clearly you landlord, although you think he is taking the piss, is not as bad as to make you take any alternative course of action. It could of course be out of the frying pan and into the fire.

FWIW I don't think you are that badly off, but you probably think you are worse off than you are. That said, I own my own place, but I'd rather have a house with several acres of land, and at times, if I compare myself against some very wealthy friends, I can get myself to believe I'm badly off when I'm not. Its all relative.

If it really is all that bad, do something about it though and find somewhere else. I lived in a flatshare in Forrest Hill for a while which was fab in all ways and actually in hindsight I should have stayed there instead of getting my own place and privacy in Lewisham. Often in cities, there is a trade off of privacy for space, proximity to commuter links for some things wrong with the property that you might choose to live with, and so on.

fridgepants Tue 05-Feb-13 14:15:09

I'm not the easiest person to live with, no. But I was fine in a previous flatshare when there was just two of us in a flat, because we got on as friends. I'm well aware of the issues which helps a lot - DP and I discussed moving in together a lot and what we need to work on as this is something that can be an issue.

In the place where I'm living now, both the lodgers stay in their rooms to watch TV/eat because the rest of the house isn't welcoming. It's basically the landlord's bedroom/home office. Sitting there is like sitting in someone's private space (he leaves his post all over the table so just sitting on the sofa means I see what he earns etc. without touching anything) and more so when someone is working on a computer in the corner with back to you while watching the TV through the mirror, or watching box sets with the light off all night every night. (I came home and said, politely 'Oh, you're getting through [programme you said you didn't like] then...' to the reply 'Well, that's generally what happens when you keep watching something. Otherwise you'd watch the same DVD over and over again.' This is pretty much what any conversation with him is like, making him awkward to talk to.)

It's clean and it's safe and the rent is cheap - meaning I've managed to save so that DP and I can move in together (I earn twice his salary) but living there has a Chinese water torture effect that's hard to describe. It's not his fault, it's his house, but the place is set up for a bachelor and not for sharing with others, and that seems abundantly clear as time goes on. I noticed it acutely last September, when I had the termination then decided moving as well would add extra stress when I was feeling rough, and I've felt it more acutely since starting my new role as it's a bit less sociable than the old.

The out of the frying pan thing is what's giving me pause for thought at the moment.

QueenofWhatever Tue 05-Feb-13 15:00:33

OP what I don't understand is why you and your DP aren't looking for a place together now. IIRC he is moving to London when his job relocates from Reading. You like Reading and would be happy to live there. He has a really nice house share with friends. His new office will be near Paddington but he thinks the trains are too busy.

if he wants what is best for you, why are the two of you not looking for somewhere now either in Reading or an affordable part of London?

fridgepants Tue 05-Feb-13 15:09:16

We've had this discussion a lot! It's the busiest time of year for his job so he won't leave work until 9 most nights, and as he doesn't live here (and I am doing overtime two weekends this month) we have at least a month that's lost. He also doesn't want to live in Reading and have to do the commute every day (I#ve done it and totally understand this - it's expensive and insanely busy so you're stressed before you get in the office.)

The absolute earliest we could start, we realised today after a chat on the phone as this thread has made me think a lot, was the beginning of March. It's not long away, but he also doesn't want to rush into getting somewhere and end up having to take somewhere unsuitable or pay excessive fees (neither of us have rented a flat in London before; I've never dealt with an estate agent and the fees scare me a bit so I'm trying to work out a baseline for 'normal' and 'rip off').

CelticPromise Tue 05-Feb-13 15:18:46

I haven't read the whole thread.

Try Harrow/Bushey/Watford. You could definitely get something better for that money. It's 15 mins to Euston from Harrow & Wealdstone, easy walk to Bloomsbury.

Greenford is alright, so is Manor House really (lived there as a student). I do feel your pain though, I looked at some bedsits before I moved in with DH that I wouldn't have kept a dog in. Unfortunately it's a seller's market in London.

This is nice:

CelticPromise Tue 05-Feb-13 15:21:10

Must be something wrong with it for that money mind!

MechanicalTheatre Tue 05-Feb-13 15:23:34

That is nice, Celtic , and also £2000 a month. A seller's market indeed.

Manor House is ok and I find you get a lot for your money in Finsbury Park, which is weird cos it's quite nice.

OP, I would be tempted to hang on and look with your partner. You could start looking now, without him, get an idea about what's out there. It'd get you out of the house in the evenings too, so you'd get away from your landlord.

CelticPromise Tue 05-Feb-13 15:28:24

Sorry read it wrong.blush

QueenofWhatever Tue 05-Feb-13 15:41:01

I think I can see why you're getting some harsh responses on this thread tbh. On the one hand you're saying that your current living situation is making you so unhappy but then anytime a suggestion is made, there's a reason why you can't do anything.

Moving in with your DP should be a happy and joyful time but your language is all about stress and difficulty. More importantly, the two of you don"t seem to have discussed this and come up with a plan.

If you don't even know when or where you're moving, how are you going to sort out the inevitable friction that comes with living together such as putting out the recycling and hoovering under the sofa.

It seems to be about the things he doesn't want and his concern about your well being isn't really shining through tbh.

AndBingoWasHisNameOh Tue 05-Feb-13 17:47:35

Radical as this sounds, have you actually considered discussing the situation with your landlord? Not in an aggressive manner but with carefully chosen words saying how you'd like to stay however you'd like to be able to use the living room more but get unwelcoming vibes from him. He may not realise how his actions are being percieved.

GinandJag Tue 05-Feb-13 17:52:43

My son pays £500 PCM for a room in a shared house in Zone 2.

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