London is the worst place in Europe to rent a flat. Unless you are a millionaire in which case, it is pretty easy to rent a mansion anywhere in London or anywhere in the world. But this is not about that small percentage of the population, this is about you and I . That is the commuters who go to work every morning in packed tubes and buses. This is about working mums, dads, single people, couples, married people, elderly people, you name it. So Having lived and rented in the city for over a decade -mostly in North West London-here are my reasons why I’m positive this city sucks when it comes to housing:
- NO VALUE FOR MONEY
In London, you will pay an extortionate amount of money to rent a small flat. Not only small but probably old, with the occasional visit from the local mouse if not rat and of course no lift. This is no business where customer service is at the heart of what they do, customer service is at the bottom . In fact, you feel as if you were doing a favour to the landlord and State Agent by renting their flat.Currently, market places for a one bedroom flat in say NW3 or NW6 are in the region of £350 per week for the cheaper/smaller places and £550 p/w for a two bed flat.
- FLATS ARE THE SIZE OF A PIG’S STABLE
If you are a working person on an average salary, London is not the place to rent. You will feel claustrophobic in the small space you will only be able to afford. If you work in Central London and live in zones 1, 2 or 3 get ready to spend more than 60% of your salary on rent plus 20% on the commute and you do the maths: Basic living in London is pretty much turning into a luxury. Yes, the city of opportunity but at what cost? Do people really want to be chasing opportunities forever while stuck in a small confinement?
- STATE AGENTS ARE PRETTY MUCH SMOKE SELLERS
Majority of them that’s it.Of course there are exceptions to the rule and I’ve come across a few nice ones. The others, were pushy and showed no shame in showing you a damp ,old and claustrophobic flat not even a rat would wanna live in and pretend the flat is a five star luxury suite.They would justify the shame by saying ; It’s in Hampstead. And then you look and yes it is in Hampstead on top of some little shop by the High street. Wow London, so classy!. Also, and this is something I have come across lately, if you have a baby, they will discriminate you and think you are either living on benefits or not the right tenant as you have a baby and you know, you are a mum and that is not the right profile. Bankers are their favourite people.They admire them as that is what they would have liked to do if they were not state agents. Did I mention this is a ghetto-cultural city at all levels not just cultural ones?
- HOMES WERE OKAY FOR VICTORIAN TIMES BUT NOT FOR THE XXI CENTURY
These rip off homes you will rent are stuck in Victorian times so if you have a pram which you need to get in and out the flat every day a few times a day, and carry your shopping bags because ,you know, not all working mothers have a nanny and a cleaner and a cook. So if you are an average woking mother, it is not practical, neither it is practical if you have reduced mobility or are in a wheelchair. As a greedy landlady told me when showing a top floor flat with a lift that had no door but a gate that didn’t close properly: “Well at least if you get stuck, you can see through the gate and you won’t feel claustrophobic”. Do they think the rest of Europe lives in Fabela style apartments? have no lifts, no light, no water? Do they think we are lucky paying some crazy money for their old, damp, prison like flats?
- LANDLORDS WILL ONLY CONTACT YOU TO INCREASE RENT.
Again there are exceptions to the rule but the majority of London landlords are speculators, auctioneers,ruthless and pretty basic people. Considering all the money they have,you would think they would be a bit more cultivated and worldly.Not so. These are property people who live off renting properties they bought years ago, then renovated as cheaply as they could and now they call themselves “Property developers”. The reality is they are a bunch of fantasists who admire Donald Trump property portfolio and anyone with a big house that has been renovated. What they lack is empathy or consideration for the people who move into their ugly looking homes. If you need to repair something in the flat , you will be chasing your landlord for weeks. Majority try to do as little as possible to the homes they rent to make a good profit to go on holiday somewhere warmer . They will ignore your pleas for a new fridge or a boiler repair or as it happened to me, you will be in hospital about to give birth and that is the day the landlord will call non stop and insist on coming over to deliver the fridge you have been asking for the last year (That’s the egg right in his face) . Also, they will always make up something to try and keep your deposit or part of it. They will always find faults, or just lie and tell you something is broken which of course you didn’t break .Money is what they love, what they breath and what they dream at night together with Ikea or cheaper stores to “renovate” (paint and decorate) their damp smelling homes.
- YOU PAY AGENCY FEES AND INVENTORY FEES TO RENT
On top of your 6 to 8 week’s deposit plus one month’s rent you pay before moving into a new flat, you will also pay agency fees, inventory fees and referencing fees. Frankly my dear, it is all bullshit to rip you off a bit more. It also gives state agents something to do in the mornings before they go on viewings in the afternoon. Inventory fees for flats that are unfurnished or that have furniture you can count with one hand sounds ridiculous but this is a ridiculous business so you better laugh than cry. Agency fees is because they need to pay the fancy agency and I guess the car of the state agent when he/she takes you on viewings, and referencing fees because bank statements or payslips are not good enough so they insist on paying an external company to do the credit check for them. In other words, hidden costs to get as much money from you as possible.The law is about to change but it seems the House of Commons is taking forever to pass on this law and stop once and for all charging agency fees to tenants. For now, they still do and even if dubious and ridiculous, completely legal. Let’s also be clear, majority of the people in the House of Lords and many in the Tory government and House of Commons are landlords themselves, so not in their interest to change the awful situation with the housing market.
London is definitely a city loosing its charm due to greediness, the awful housing market,the high levels of pollution and the ridiculous prices you pay to afford basic living. If a man and a woman is tired of London, they are tired of being ripped off.