Realtors have a new dirty trick
What is life like in London? Hell. Here is the proof, beyond any doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.
What is that? That’s a good question because I called the realtor and even they did not know.
Where is he? In Leeds, or actually more of a kind of Armley. Someone who knows Leeds will now send me a firm email saying ‘it’s not Leeds it’s Armley, CUNT’ and frankly I’ll deserve it.
What to do locally? To be fair to Leeds, I actually think it’s my favorite non-capital city in the UK, based on a few really good fuzzy weekends I’ve had there and the exceptionally great naan bread they do at Akbar. Leeds has a busy main street and great places to eat and drink and you can make every second adult man in the city cry just by saying, “Tell me what Marcelo Bielsa means to you”. That’s all a city could need. What was this good cafe called? I went to a really good cafe when I was there—
Was it Laynes? It wasn’t Laynes.
Looks like it was Laynes It wasn’t Laynes. There was a bit outside.
Laynes. Not Laynes. This is going to drive me crazy. This will piss me off.
People don’t say “pot” enough anymore They don’t. Is it a… awakened thing?
Thing awake? You know. For example, can you be “medically pot”?
How much are they asking? £535 per calendar month.
We’ll start with the Harvey Nichols dubai bags, and we’ll get to the fake wedding photo, then we’ll move on to the complete lack of evidence of any type of bed or room, and then conclude from there:
The Harvey Nichols Dubai bag thing is trending now, and I’d say this one sank from Airbnb: During the pandemic, many people who were speculative owners of grim little Airbnb apartments suddenly found them unoccupied, obviously, so tried to put them on the housing market instead.
You could tell when it was an Airbnb masquerading as an actual apartment by three major signifiers: the rooms were always neatly prepared with a pair of towels rolled up on the bed (so hotel-y! So chic! But also, the list owners a property for rent rather than “spending a weekend in town” just presenting the mattress to you as it is, raw and uncut), the advertisements always favor the short term rentals three months or so (a perfectly ordinary and normal way of renting apartments, of course), and they also hadn’t adjusted the rents from weekend peak rates to a fixed monthly rate, so these supposed Big-brained business geniuses who ran Airbnbs on the side were trying to rent studio apartments full of single beds for around two grand a month.
It was funny and I hope a lot of people lost a significant amount of money. Like, I hope they had to cancel vacations and pull their kids out of school. This is the level of loss I’m talking about.
The bags thing, however, is new. A few weeks ago, I found this particularly depressing example in a Yorkshire listing, where the visibly needed block of air freshener contrasts with a slightly battered Chanel bag to create a sight that inspires a particular gray liminal dread. It’s unclear what the bag is supposed to signify – that you come home from a shopping spree at Chanel, Victoria’s Secret and Harvey Nichols, then snuggle up in a single bed that’s also in your kitchen and warm some beans on both -hob?
But it gives a rare clue to the owner behind the photographs: that he is about someone who thinks shopping is an ambitious pastime, that he is so particularly disconnected from the daily reality of the people to whom he rents, that he is someone one who guards the shopping bags they received when buying something at the Chanel counter in Dubai airport as if it were a sacred relic. The Chanel bag is here to dazzle us: we, foolish non-owners that we are, will be easily distracted by the bag, and ignore the fact that the living room and the kitchen are only delimited by slightly different carpet textures because we we know the person who rents it to us has either a very nice card holder or an overpriced belt.
The staging in this property is particularly funny. If you look closely at the wedding photo on the mantel, you will see that it’s not actually in the frame, it’s just a picture in front of the frame, so presumably the owner bought his own raw wedding photo from the property so he could take a picture of it in there in a lived-in way. They also neglected to take a photo of the bed or bedroom, which most properties require, for someone to live in. There doesn’t seem to be any: the door to the right of the sofa opens into a double door that leads directly to the common hallway; the door to the left of the sofa can only lead to the bathroom.
If you look in the mirror on the opposite wall you can see a reflection of what may be a door that leads to the hallway, but if you sit down and draw up a floor plan based on the photos we have at our layout, then the only possible bedroom that could fit there is a dark, windowless room that has the exact dimensions of a single bed and nothing else. (An incredibly tiny bathroom could fit here too, but I don’t know what weird angles the bedroom would have to go to if it existed behind the other door: maybe that’s why there’s no photos of her, despite the fact that someone has taken such visible care to arrange a photo shoot here.)
There is no room or a room too embarrassing to photograph, and both of these options are, I think, “bad”. Here is the full list of properties: “Modern studio with furniture available to rent immediately. Would suit an active person. The room is equipped with its own kitchen/living room and separate bathroom, microwave /grill, a fridge-freezer and plenty of storage space”. You will of course note the total absence of the word “bedroom” or “bed”, and the presence of the word “studio”, which suggests a room. , yes, but: I don’t think this property has a bedroom I think there is a bedroom with a couch that they might change the bed into if you ask but they will try to get you sleeping on the couch first. Here’s a rough transcript of a phone call I had about it:
Me: Hey yeah: I’m just watching the Zoopla ad for the studio and just wanted to ask is that it? a play?
Realtor representative who didn’t know I was taking notes but taking notes is not illegal, the recording is: It’s more of an independent apartment, that one. It has its own entrance and exit door.
Me: OKAY. But… so it’s so much the main room, it’s the kitchen?
EARWDNKIWTNBTNINI, RI: He’s got his own bedroom, his own living room, his bedroom, his bathroom, and the only thing you’d have to share is the washing machine, on the–the washing machine with the other two tenants.
Me: OKAY. Where is the, where is the room?
EARWDNKIWTNBTNINI, RI: Ah… I haven’t personally been to this one. But I don’t think it’s a separate room. I think it’s a living room-bedroom in one. I have not personally been to this establishment.
Me: OK then… in the bedroom with the couch.
EARWDNKIWTNBTNINI, RI: I’m just trying to remember actually. I’m just going to look at the pictures because I haven’t been –
Me: No yeah no yeah no –
EARWDNKIWTNBTNINI, RI: [Audibly looking at the photos and not seeing a bed] Oh no it could be…it could be that there’s a separate bedroom or the bedroom…oh. I think there is a smaller room for the bedroom. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.
EARWDNKIWTNBTNINI, RI: Yeah, there’s definitely a separate bedroom, because it’s a – it’s a kitchen-living room in one.
Me: OKAY. And there are no pictures of this room?
EARWDNKIWTNBTNINI, RI: Not. Not on the system, no.
Me: Oh. OKAY.
EARWDNKIWTNBTNINI, RI: OKAY?
EARWDNKIWTNBTNINI, RI: So okay.
EARWDNKIWTNBTNINI, RI: Yeah OK. Thank you. Thank you. Goodbye.
I think we can all agree on two things: yes, it would have been more flattering to me if I at least made up a part of the transcript where I may have challenged the idea that he didn’t ‘there’s no room, instead of just saying ‘okay’ a hundred million times in a row; and also, almost certainly, the realtor rep I spoke to completely made up a room on the spot – in a rather primitive and instinctive way, in fact – when there was absolutely no evidence of it.
This is my theory: one door goes outside and one door goes to the bathroom. The third secret door leads to a closet which contains an ironing board, and there is no extra bedroom in this studio. Still, there’s a dustbag for someone else’s pair of shoes hanging over the handle of the dresser. Best not to think about how much of your £535 a month is paying for it, though.