London Calling

It’s been an interesting week… I’m sure I could have posted before now during the last eight days, but I guess time just slips away in the end.

I spent the last week trying desperately to find places to view in anticipation of my visit to London on Saturday. I planned to go visit these houses/flats with my friend who I’m going to be living with, and, with a bit of luck, we’d get something sorted out the same day. So much time was wasted on the internet trying to find something appropriate while staying reasonably cheap. One thing is for sure, this little jaunt next year is going to wipe out several thousands of pounds…

In the end, London appeared into my vision. The sight of it normally fills me with dread, and this time was no exception. It was made worse by the fact that I had picked the perfect weekend to go… numerous tube lines were closed for maintenance, meaning a scramble for the nearest working tube line, and having to go back on myself when I realised the station I was planning to change lines at was no good for me.

We toured three houses on the day, one in Custom House, one in Lewisham and one in Hither Green. The one in Lewisham was very depressing, so that was the end of that. I preferred the one in Custom House, but my housemate wanted the one in Hither Green. In the end, just because it would make things easier (as we were actually in the agent that showed us the Hither Green house) I just agreed to take it.

Having never done anything like this before, I didn’t realise just how many forms and paperwork were then required. Then they slipped on an extra cost – a “reference fee” just at the final part of the process, without giving me any warning. I think it’s ridiculous that I have to have my privacy invaded so thoroughly by providing them with three months of my bank statements, as does my dad, because they insisted on a guarantor as I’m not earning any money next year. Then the questions on the form were asking me to provide endless details of character references, previous employers, all the rest.

Unfortunately, I guess this is the way rental works. You can understand them not wanting to take on bad tenants, and doing everything they can to stop it, but you would have thought the fact they already want two grand as an upfront payment of rent and deposit to be enough to show that we’re serious about it and don’t intend to default any time soon. A quick credit reference check (costing them no more than ¬£2) would also show them I have a very good credit record.

The other problem was the fact that it was all taking so much time to do. I had a train to catch at 17:04, and it was now 16:10… and I was in Lewisham, a long way from where I needed to be to get my train home. This involved a mad dash across London, via underground, overground, and wombling free running up and down escalators. Then onto the wrong train platform, because there was also another train leaving at the same time, and I’d only looked at the time on the departure board. I figured there couldn’t be any other train leaving at the same time. But there was. So I had to run back, get the right train. I made it with 10 seconds to spare.

But I suffered for it the next day. I don’t think I’ve ever run so quickly in my whole life. When I was standing, waiting for an underground train to arrive, I had resigned myself to missing my train – which I had booked into in advance so if I’d missed it I’d have had to buy a new ticket. But when the train arrived at my station, I had four minutes to make the transfer. I had to chance it. So I ran as fast I could, feeling utterly hypocritical about the fact that I normally moan about the people who are constantly running up and down the escalators, because I was doing it myself. I guess I won’t complain about that again.

I don’t think I’ve ever run so quickly over such a long period of time. Non stop sprinting, running on adrenaline. When I made it with seconds to spare, I collapsed and fell asleep. But my muscles were killing by the time I moved again as I got off the train… and the next morning it was terrible. Headaches and stomach pains, so I only survived yesterday with the help of some paracetamol. The wonders of modern science.

So now I have a big rush to get everything finalised. Theoretically, the property isn’t mine yet until I get all this stuff back. But I’m still waiting for confirmation from my referees that they don’t mind me putting their names on my form. The longer it takes, I suppose the greater the chance the estate agent will show someone else around and offer it to them. And that would be disasterous. I couldn’t do all this again. I’ve already left it too late, and that’s the fault of the “friends” of mine who dropped me in this mess by going off by themselves and finding their own place to live.

Hopefully, it’s all over now. But I can’t help but feel that some other snag is going to emerge…

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