The Nightmare of Renting in London

Let’s say you are looking for a 1 bedroom flat in London. You ask google and it tells you to go to or Cool, these sites offer quite intelligent search features, so it’s definitely a good starting point. Let’s do it!

  • How many bedrooms? One.
  • Where do you work? Warren street.
  • How long do you want to commute? Well, I would really hate commuting more than 30 minutes.

Tadaaadaa, a page with a lot of beautiful flats appears! What is pcm? Is this really the price per month? You unbelievingly stare at the numbers. You check the exchange rate for British pound – it’s really as much as you thought. You try reloading the page – still the same. You may try restarting the internet but the price is still the same…

“Hm, that’s not going to work..” you think, remove the limit of 30 min commute time and update you search criteria with the maximal price of £200 a week. Yay, there are still many flats! If only some of them were really in London so that you don’t have to spend more than 2 hours a day in public transport…

What now? You may put up with the prices in the city centre and call an agency to arrange for a viewing. Only then you find out that the flat is already gone and they haven’t updated the website yet. The tenth ad you try is luckily still available so you go to see the flat that looked so nice in the pictures and find yourself in a shady room that hardly fits a bed.
“Yes, I take this!” you say because there seems to be no other option.

(Ok, we haven’t seen anything this bad but only the fact that it exists is disturbing.)

The agent calls you the next morning and asks whether it’s OK if the landlord wants 6 months deposit.
“6 months?”
“Yes, it’s a bit unusual but he is asking for 6 months.”
“Sure, no problem, what else would I do with £15,000 I don’t have…” you say.
“Great!” says the agent and everything seems to be fine.

Sadly, the agent calls you at noon that the landlord decided to rent it to someone else.

Ok, to be fair, not all of this happened to me but that’s what I’ve heard from colleagues in similar situation. In fact, my story is quite different as I had an agency to help me with the relocation process. Let’s call it Agency A.

They are supposed to help with almost everything, which means that they mostly arrange for services of other agencies depending on what services I request. I wanted some help with flat-search, so they gave me Agency B, which organised two wonderful days full of flat viewings. We expressed interest in one of the flats, which Agency C was renting. We requested some additional furniture in the flat, so Agency C contacted the Landlord, who approved. However, to make sure that we are reliable, they needed references from our employers and previous landlords. Agency C uses Agency D to obtain these references. Further, Agency B highly recommended us to have a clerk for check-in inspection, who was from Agency E.

As you can imagine, it’s not as simple as it sounds. We were mostly in touch with Agency B, which had to communicate with Landlord through Agency C. The agencies had to agree on who was actually going to prepare our Tenancy Agreement and during the process, they managed to misspell all our names several times. Further, all this happened in just a few days and Agency D even tried to contact us on Sunday…

Having said that, we are now living in a very nice (but small) flat in Zone 3 for a reasonable price. The flat is newly refurbished and the owner is seemingly crazy about lights and blue diodes so we have about 20 light bulbs in the living area and built-in diodes almost everywhere.

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Come visit us! It’s about 75 minutes by Piccadilly line from Heathrow (direct) or about 60 mins from Stansted by train + bus.



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