London: renting a flat on a budget #1


As a student in London, I had the privilege of staying in some of the filthiest places known to man.

It was a baptism with fire and fully expected back Then. No one had heard of gas safety certificates, (if they had, no one bothered to enforce them) no electrical safety checks and no landlord licensing schemes. Fire regulations were for sissies and a source of mirth for the landlord, who, in any case was probably fully insured against your accidental death, due to negligence.

I just handed them my cash and hoped for the best. For my final year, I shared a 2 bed flat with two male students from college. Standard practice was to turn the living room, into a bedroom, and – wait for it: There was only ONE bathroom, which the three of us shared not just with each other, but with a guy couple, who lived in the flat above. Yes – the ONE bathroom was communal for TWO flats. Hot water and electricity worked with some sort of bizarre meter thing, where we put coins in. There were inevitable arguments with the other sharers as to whose turn it was to feed the beast. I do believe, we also shared with a family of rather large mice – not sure, they may have been rats, or they may have been related to the landlord. Nonetheless – the flat was cheap and it was central, so that’s all I cared for those days.

I had my own little room with an exceptionally filthy carpet, think a giant petri dish. The building itself, was so dilapidated, that the window came off. Yes- just before my final exams, when I tried to open the window, it came off, right in my hands, frame and all.

Up until that point, it never crossed my mind, to complain to anyone. Deposits were viewed as a kind of a largesse gift to the landlord, no matter what. Come to think of it, I do not believe I ever saw my deposit back, in any of the places I ever rented. Ah those were the days, where landlords enjoyed absolute power.

In many ways, they still do. If you cross the ‘landlord’, or their dodgy managing agent, how are you going to get references for your next place?

© Ladysarahinlondon

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4 thoughts on “London: renting a flat on a budget #1

  1. dottoressa

    These adventures have really prepared you for real life battles (like with Borgias) 🙂
    Comparing to your stories,we (me and my friends), were spoilt-if you’ve lived and studied in the same city (and mine is a capital,with best universities)-you lived with your parents. Today it is almost the same story,although more people study and work (and there are a lot of universities where you have to pay study-mine was completely free)and some of them decide to rent
    There are good and bad landlords,as well as good and bad flats (and as well as perfect tenants and tenants from the hell)-we don’t have references for renting,but it would be good to have them for both parties (although there is an urban legend that sometimes landlords pay for a couple of months rent in a new apartement to get rid of tenants,so they would write best references,too).Even with the contract and renting agencies,both parties invoved could have problems)
    I could remember some of the horror stories from my friends who were from other cities and renting flats and rooms. One of my friends was paying alone two bed room in the centre for two years (waiting for her younger brother to come to study) and than got sacked etc
    Did you know your co-tennants before you rent an apartement?

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Thank you for the imput – I am very interested to know how the system works outside of London. My co – sharers in the above post, were friends from college, so I did know them pretty well in advance. I stayed in another place though where we did not know each other and that was a true nightmare… I did not stay long and forgot about it! Yes it s character building 😃 Did your son stay in a flat share when in London?

      1. dottoressa

        He was in students home. There were flats with 5 or 6 ensuite single rooms (own bathroom was a must for him),who shared kitchen and living room- actually a kind of flat share,with unfamiliar people
        Vienna has higher prices comparing to Zagreb,but it is more reasonable than in London

        1. lady sarah in london Post author

          Local council would no longer allow properties like the one I stayed as a student with the shared bathroom. HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupation) tend to have own bathrooms, (bed sits I think they are called.) and they have to meet certain standards and be licensed.


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