I'm sitting at a cafe in Kentish Town in autopilot. Yet another day spent scrolling through the infinite pages of houses 'available' for sharing in London. The dreary background of lame music at Costa Coffee is the soundtrack to my struggle. It's been two weeks of constant hunting through the treacherous London rental market. The property managers are unsympathetically ruthless, leaving you empty handed and heavy hearted. My experience yesterday was just one small drop in the life of a share house hunter that is happening to victims all across the city.
Whitechapel. That's just in to zone 2. And the property was only 125 pound a week, that's a steal in this market! I fumbled for my phone to call the agent. He agreed to meet at 4.30pm on the same day and I made my way excitedly to the bus station. I told work I would be in late and embarked on the hour journey to the property. Should I have been searching for somewhere closer? No, it would be fine I thought. I'd come up with no properties so far, so I thought I should take this one because the location is fairly solid and the price was unbeatable.
A smartly dressed mid twenties man with an eastern european accent opened the door and invited me in. He led me up the stairs and explained that there were two rooms available for immediate move. He asked me a few questions about my current visa status and I mentioned that I have a polish passport. The man began speaking in Polish and I was unable to respond. I explained that I applied for an ancestral passport and was raised in Australia. I hoped that our Polish common ground would give me some pull in the situation. We were after all originally from the same homeland (even if I can't respond to "How are you?"). "I'll take the place!" I said enthusiastically. The gentleman informed me that he needs to show the property to a few other candidates, but there shouldn't be a reason why I couldn't have it. He said that he will be in contact around 8pm to finalise details. He remained upstairs as I headed down to find ten people outside waiting. My first thought was to pretend I was the agent and inform them that the appointment has been cancelled because we had already found tenants. It's a vicious market, but I don't think I could morally pull that off. Damn you morals.
8pm came around and I snuck out to the back section of the restaurant I work in to check my notifications. The screen displayed only the time.. Where was my "one new message"? I sent the agent a message asking what happened and finally received a response an hour later explaining that the property had been given to some people who arrived just after me. Damn. You. Morals.
These are the steps to the game.
1. Sift for hours through the potential properties online.
2. Form a shortlist of the properties that appeal to you.
3. Send texts or emails to the tenants or agents.
4. Organise a viewing time.
5. Take half the day off to commute and see the property.
6. Spend the rest of the day wondering if you were successful.
7. Receive message that you weren't successful
8. See step one.