One or two bedrooms, unfurnished, equipped to a modern standard and available now or within a few weeks. With those specifications and our budget, we didn’t have a wide selection of rental properties to choose from when we looked for a new home in south west London. There was that one monstrous afternoon with ten viewings with three different property agents.
The first property was a quirky pub conversion. If you’ve ever watched an episode of the Hoarders tv series about people with an obsessive need to collect things, even if the items are worthless, hazardous or unsanitary, you get the idea of the state of the flat. “The tenants are just moving out, so it’s a bit messy. Don’t worry, it’ll be professionally cleaned before you move in”. My husband looked like he was about to faint. He whispered to me in Swedish that he might have seen the yellow eyes of a rat beaming at us from underneath the kitchen cabinets. “It’s a possibility” I said to the agent and we moved on to the next viewing.
The third property was a in an impressive purpose-built block of flats. It was cold outside and we were met with a massive heatwave in the fully carpeted staircase. I tried to relax and breathe, just like in yoga. “Heating and hot water are included in the rent”, the agent cheerfully informed us. I was quickly reaching my tolerance point for heat absorption when we got to the cramped third floor flat. The current tenant met us in his underwear and was surprised, when we didn’t need to see the second bedroom and the living room.
The last four properties were all with the same agent. It was getting dark. We were grateful to be driven around in the agent’s tiny car instead of trying to catch buses and rely on the mobile GPS app. The young agent in his stripy suit was racing like a mad man from one place to another, picking up keys along the way. He explained that he was running late to his next customer appointment. And we had another three to view! We saved him time by not even going inside one of the properties and turning away at the entrance door of another. He was probably happy to get rid of us. I never received any follow-up calls from him.
We hit a jackpot with the fourth viewing of the day. It was advertised as a luxury modern one-bedroom flat, fully equipped with all the wires, sequrity and connections one can wish for. As far as we were concerned, it was perfect. The rent was a bit higher than we had budgeted for, but it came with a storage room, bike storage room and indoor parking. We moved in. We got our furniture and belongings delivered from Finland. All the boxes are unpacked. We have a home. Six weeks later, we only just got a broadband connection and my husband’s bicycle has been stolen from the locked bike storage room. Welcome to your new home!