Feeling Flats

I hate flat-hunting. But as I only have to go through the hellish process once or twice a year, I forget this. When the time comes to find a new place to live I get excited at the prospect of moving. I set out truly believing that I will be able to find a wonderful flat, located moments from a tube station and a big Sainsbury’s, with huge rooms, a lounge with patio doors leading a roof garden overlooking Hampstead Heath with a hot tub with gold plated taps and a butler. It then comes as a shocking blow to me every year that this flat doesn’t exist, or if it does I would have to win the lottery every week for the rest of my life to be able to afford it.

The Beloved Foxtons Mini (Photo © Foxtons)After abandoning my dreams I will proceed to spend the next few weeks being laughed out of estate agents for thinking that there might be a flat in North London which I can afford to rent or being shown houses that can only be politely described as “shitholes”. I am currently in this rather depressing period.

Rather than having a list of things I want in my new flat I have started writing a list of things I won’t accept. As soon as all these criteria are met I will move in…

  • Rat poison in every room
  • A location directly above a “sauna” or “private gentleman’s club”
  • A serving hatch separating the two “bedrooms”
  • Rooms smaller than the lift
  • Holes in the windows patched up with old Sugar Puffs boxes
  • A broken door
  • A large hole in the floor
  • Holes in the ceiling

I’ve seen all of these things whilst looking for flats.

I also have a dislike / hatred for the lettings negotiators who show me these poor excuses for living quarters. The term “lettings negotiators” is bollocks in itself. No negotiation occurs.

“Do you want this flat?”
“Will you fix the front door so it can’t be blown open by an asthmatic beetle, with a cold?”
“Can you reduce the rent?”
“I don’t think it’s what were looking for.”
“Well, to be honest with you mate, you won’t find anything better in this area within your price range.”
“Would we be able to find anywhere with a ceiling?”
“I doubt it mate. We’ve had a lot of interest in this place already so I’ll need to know yesterday if you want it.”

Holy crap! What if someone puts an offer in before me and I lose possibly the only chance I’ll get to move into this flat with no door, no ceiling and only one wall? What if this is the best flat I can get and next week I end up accepting something ten times worse? It could happen. No, it will happen. I then take the flat, hand the estate agent ten million pounds in payment for whatever service he had provided and twenty pounds to cover the complimentary bottle of mineral water I got when I first entered his office.

A week later I realise that I’ve rented a wall.

And a man with no shoes and a trolley full of cider is claiming squatters rights.

Its an obscure reference but all estate agents remind me of the cockney estate agent in the opening scene of Woody Allen’s ‘Match Point’…

“Do you like cooking? Have you got a wok?”
“Well the last tenants left one in the kitchen. That’s yours. If you take the flat.”

Whilst looking at one property, an estate agent pointed out that there was a small shop just across the road.

“That’ll be useful if you need to get milk on the weekends, you won’t have to go asking the neighbours.”

Does anybody do that these days? Ever? I’ve never asked my neighbours for any foodstuffs at any point in my life and no neighbour has requested foodstuff from me, at the weekend or otherwise. Maybe it’s different if you’re not in walking distance of a 24 hour Tesco.

Legalise Foxtons hunting. If you see a branded Mini, let down the tyres.


  1. Oh! The ‘sauna’ … you remembered!!!
    I wish I could say its easier in NY… but sadly, it’s literally WORSE. Glad you found somewhere, but wish your heating worked better (from what I hear).

  2. Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and
    tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just
    so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she
    has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

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