Londoners Tell Us Their Housing Horror Stories

By Jonn Last edited 58 months ago
Londoners Tell Us Their Housing Horror Stories

Who would live in a house like this? Well, not you, matey, you've got no chance.

Yesterday we ran an article speculating about quite how silly London's hilariously horrible housing market could ultimately become. It featured 10 made up property listings we expected to appear somewhere on the internet any day now.

The article inspired us to ask the followers of the @Londonist Twitter feed for their worst experiences of trying to find a place to call their own in this town and, within about four and a half minutes, it had become clear that our attempts to satirise the housing market had failed entirely. The reality is far, far more horrendous than anything we could have come up with ourselves.

Some of the property listings we'd made up as a joke turned out to be, basically, true.

  • @Judoon_Platoon: Room in shared flat: £350pcm. Was a bed mounted on a platform above the washing machine and tumble drier in a utility room.
  • @MegFitz: Viewed a "studio flat" in Chelsea. Agent warned me it was a bit small. It was a converted broom closet in the hall.
  • @C_A_R_O_caro: 2-bedroom flat in Finsbury Park with no windows - £220 a week "but it's ok, there's a ventilation system in the rooms"

Others reported landlords who've found really clever ways of maximising the number of bedrooms:

  • @kateweb: Viewed a room in a shared flat so small that a bed /just/ fitted & clothes storage was a row of hooks on the outside of the door.
  • @frnkgrms: "1 bed with mezzanine floor in lounge" Converted shop, bedroom wall a shuttered shop window, mez a 4ft wide shelf. £240pw
  • @Smiler2118: saw a flat in London where agent said there was space for an extra bed & opened the cupboard under the stairs!! #veryharrypotter
  • @SianySianySiany: Flat in Elverson Road. No living room. "We use one of the bedrooms as a living room." "Which one?" "Yours." £600 a month.
  • @AccidentalLDNr: Saw a flat advertised as having '3 split-level mezzanine bedrooms'. Turns out that's code for '3 built-in bunk-beds'.

Others, inventive places to put bathrooms:

  • @maggiebob: 1 bed in East Finchley - toilet in a living room cupboard, bath was in screened off corner of the bedroom.
  • @repetitivebeat: Viewed a flat share in Crouch End a few years ago that had a kitchen/bathroom combo divided by a curtain. Gave it a miss.
  • @dickdotcom: also flat-hunting in Darlo in 1987 I saw a flat that had a toilet on a trolley that you were supposed to push back under the sink
  • @callsignemily: Saw a house in Harrow where you had to climb through the shower to get to the bath, which was situated 10cms from the ceiling
  • @emsypickle: flat in Archway with shower in the kitchen behind a curtain. Agent said "Its space saving, and sociable".... It shouldn't be!

Still, they should probably think themselves lucky to have a bathroom at all.

  • @StopCityAirport: 15sqm Studio flat £100,000. No bathroom. how is it even possible in the 21st century?
  • @emmirick: The studio flat I saw in Kings Cross, which on asking where the bathing facilities were, I got told the kitchen sink... Not good!
  • @katie_brennan: FinsburyPark £540. Estate Agent:"It's quite basic." Me:"Well as long as there's a loo!" Estate Agent:"....." There was no loo.

Some flats are dirty:

  • @edgar_hoffmann: 3m2 box room with with huge patch of black mould on ceiling." I can give it a lick of paint if it really bothers you" £550pcm
  • @Selected_Poems: I once saw a house in Deptford, the kitchen was covered in black dust, the words 'help me' was clearly written in said grime...
  • @DanaeMercer: Dollis Hill flat. Box room. No window. 'So... um... there's only this bedframe. No bed.' 'No? Why?' 'We've got bedbugs.' £450
  • @lilleyjuice: I once looked at one with a trail of blood from Hackney rd to the front door.
  • @JonLYeomans: Once saw a flat with walls green with mould. A chicken carcass was in the middle of the patio. Neither me or agent mentioned it.

Some landlords positively filthy:

  • @tom_wein: Friend once saw flat whose bare living room featured only a computer desk, 1 plastic chair & a whip mounted above the mantelpiece
  • @SianySianySiany: But that's not as bad as the guy in Blackheath who looked me up and down, licked his lips and implied a 'discount' on the rent.
  • @jf2811: Oh yes, I got offered a 'bargain' flat in Islington once on the basis that the (male) landlord could borrow my underwear!!
  • @cjeleonard: on viewing a flat in Paddington I became aware there was no spare room and they'd got me in for a 3some. Made my excuses n left..

Some flats seem to unexpectedly blur the concepts of "inside" and "outside".

  • @Mauro_Murgi: Was shown a flat inside a kebab house once. You needed keys of the shop to get in/out outside opening hours.
  • @HelenCRobertson: I once viewed a room in Bethnal Green with a mere beaded curtain separating the kitchen from a family of 4 (in adjacent flat).
  • @MummyBarrow: had a landlord not see problem with extension having no roof. "There's a tarpaulin". Fuse box blew every time it rained

Others you could barely get inside at all.

  • @OliviaDean18: viewed a flat where front door lock was jammed so landlord climbed through kitchen window to let me in from the inside..
  • @hayleycampbelly: A flat in Vauxhall, 2008. Front door had to be jimmied open with a chef's knife, kept on top of the electrical box by the door.
  • @hayleycampbelly: The estate agent jimmied it himself but told us we'd get used to it. "It's all in the wrist," he joked. He actually joked.

Then there were those that were best described simply as "WTF?"

  • @heycos: Semi in Epsom with bizarre note "Due to the owners hobby, we are unable to take internal photographs"
  • @OhShaun: We went to view a conversion at Brixton Prison. Like, the flats were beyond the security gates...
  • @hello_liza: "Spacious" flat near Finsbury Park actually quite small but filled with tiny, kid-sized furniture. Felt like a giant.
  • @matt_hero: Once viewed a flat for sale in Colliers Wood; carpet had a trail of blood that led to the bedroom & a blood stained mattress
  • @sprint901: I thought the dope filled flat with heavily excrement stained mattress I was offered was bad
  • @KerryFlint: dark smelly flat in Greenwich, couldn't see room cos a girl had locked herself in there screaming 'leave me'. Hob was left on too
  • @jennyhalsey: viewing a flat in Brixton the owner said he'd show me photos of before renovation. they were mixed in with hardcore gay porn.

In the name of balance we should include this entry, from a landlord:

  • @claramolden: once had prospective tenant who insisted on getting into shower fully clothed & turning it on to check splashing.

Two conclusions present themselves from all this. One is that the market is utterly screwed and that the London Rental Standard has absolutely no chance of working whatsoever.

The other is best summed up by this, from @hatross: "Renting horror stories @Londonist is posting are bad but thank fuck grotty fields next to the M25 are safe from having houses built on them"

We couldn't have put it better ourselves.

Photo courtesy of Ed.ward, taken from the Londonist Flickr pool. View all (we think, there were a lot) of the tweets we received in this Storify.

Last Updated 22 August 2013


Try this blog about flats in NYC
Just to chill out a bit

iain carstairs

In 1979 I rented a Willsden Green flat in, I think, Brondesbury Park Lane. The landlord was a "Mr Van" who in fact was a Mr Van Der Molen, who looked like a Bond villain, and as if his face had been taken apart and stitched back together in a hurry.

The flat was about 1/5th of a house and comprised one bedroom and one living area, at £25 per week - the equivalent of about £225 per week now. In the winter I slept with longjohns, gloves and a woolly hat because it was actually colder indoors than outside. It was bitterly cold.

One day I noticed a Volkswagen van outside, with the wheels removed, and found he had rented it (in winter) as a flat, to two Norwegian students at £15 per week. And I actually remember considering if it would be wiser to get in line for that, and maybe save £10 per week.

That's about £140 these days. Top that!


Once ( 2008 ) I saw a room in a shared house in London, 5 pakistani men looking for a woman to share with, 420 a month, plus she had to cook, clean, iron and do shopping for all of them ( for free ). shocked, I said, so I have to pay rent and do all this? sorry I just want the room but they said they don't want me in unless I do all the things mentioned above. And not long ago I saw a shared room in a shared house for 550!!!!!!! a month. 6 rooms with 4 people in each.

Marks Out Of Tenancy

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Darren Anthony Atwood These are the conditions in which residents of Chaplin House currently live in on a daily basis and should not be allowed to continue!!! We have contacted our management agency on more then enough occasions and we are being constantly told the same poor excuses yet five years later we still have a severe rodent infestation its appalling!! Many of the residents, myself included have young children and we are becoming very worried about these issues as they are a serious health and safety risks and are clearly extremely hazardous to our health I myself have a 17 Month Daughter who is no longer able to play in her bedroom or on the floor at fear of contamination as weil's disease is extremely dangerous to a child!

Again, this is a on-going problem for the residents of Chaplin House and has started to become more than just a concern now! ,the on-going pest problems with rats and mice gaining access into the building and actually into our properties!! mine included, is a serious issue. I had to at my own expense pay for materials to finish off and fill in holes left by the shoddy and appalling standard of work carried out by Wilmott Dixon which quite frankly was an absolute disgrace...Not only has this left me and other residents out of pocket, it has also cost me my well as the distress of in fact having rodents in my home with young children. It is a bloody disgrace!!! Moreover, although Catalyst have had pest control inspect the property, to this day we can still hear rodents in our ceilings & walls; which is a further worry... that they will chew through the work we have had done to keep them out! This ongoing issue has been allowed to fester over the course of five consecutive years! All these issues, as far as I am concerned have not been addressed to a suitable or satisfactory standard but yet we are still expected to pay our maintenance fees to live in these dangerous and disgusting conditions!!

Please see the attached photographic evidence which has been taken by various residents. We are becoming increasingly frustrated by Catalyst responses and there excuses are becoming very tiresome.

We as residents actually part share these properties and pay rent and a maintenance therefore we in the eyes of the law would be considered tenants, to in fact Catalyst would have a legal obligation to ensure we live in suitable and safe accommodation failure to do so should clearly be in breach of contract and tenants well as being in breach of Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 as a matter of negligences......

Please also have a look at the below Facebook post in which I have had over 250 Comments and complaints on this issue and has been shared over 20 times now!!! please can you help me and comment on the below post!!!