What I Rent – Metro’s tenant diary series – is back.
It’s been a while but we are back in action and chatting to renters across the country.
This week we have a familiar face – it’s Metro Lifestyle’s very own Jessica Lindsay, who has appeared in the series before.
Jess is now living in Deptford with her boyfriend, Sean, after talking about her two previous flats with us. Here’s what she had to say…
Tell us about yourself, Jess.
I’m Jess! I’m 29 and a senior lifestyle reporter here at Metro, and I live with my boyfriend Sean, 31, a digital designer, and our cat, Fred, 15, in Deptford, South East London.
It’s my third go at What I Rent now, and our current flat is a one-bedroom in a newbuild development. We’ve been here for just over two years and split rent and bills equally.
How much do you pay to live here?
£1,400 a month at the moment. We initially paid £1,250pm when we moved in during the pandemic, then last year the landlord told us if we wanted to stay it’d be £1,750pm– a massive jump.
After finding somewhere new in our price range and putting down a deposit, he changed his mind and said the rise wouldn’t be so steep. It was a big hassle and super stressful, but we ultimately decided to stay put.
And what do you get for what you pay?
The flat is roughly 650 square feet, made up of an open-plan living/dining/kitchen area, a big double bedroom, and a bathroom with a bath. There’s also a wee balcony that’s lovely for sitting out in the evenings.
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Do you feel like you have a good deal?
When I speak to friends from home in Scotland, no, but in terms of London I think we’re doing okay. It’s definitely frustrating that prices keep going up when we’re not earning more or getting anything different for our money, but that’s the case everywhere right now and the flat itself is what we want for the moment.
Where is your home based? What do you think of the area?
If I’m living in London, I only want to be in Deptford or New Cross. It’s busy without feeling stifling, people are friendly, everything’s on our doorstep, and we’ve made a real home here. That said, this particular flat is further from the High Street than previous places, so I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with Deliveroo and Gorillas – it’s far too easy to never leave the house!
Our windows are also directly adjacent to a train track, and while there’s triple glazing and air filtering to make up for the pollution and noise, it is a bit weird when passengers peer right in on you.
How did you find this property?
I think it was OnTheMarket, but we’d been scouring property sites for ages after our previous landlord told us he was selling up. It was touch and go given the lockdowns, but I think the fact nobody wanted to move house at that point actually helped us.
How have you made this place feel like home?
Command strips and putting all sorts on the walls, really. I also love plants, cushions and colour (can you tell?) so try to incorporate that in the decor.
Getting a cat really changed things for us too – despite the back and forth trying to get permission initially. Our first rescue Frank passed away last year and it felt empty without him, so his ashes sit on the windowsill and we’ve vowed to be ‘those’ people who spoil their grizzled old cats like babies.
Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?
I think because we know it’ll never be our place, we’ve kept it renter-friendly and filled it with stuff we’ve collected over the years as a temporary workaround. Our landlord lives in Hong Kong and there’s nothing that needs doing urgently since it’s new, so it’d be too much faff to request any cosmetic changes.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Although it’s a one-bed we have more than enough space. The main room has a corner area where we’ve squeezed a sofa bed for when guests stay, plus there’s loads of built-in storage. Most importantly, there’s a balcony to retreat to when we’re feeling cooped up indoors.
Are there any problems with the home you have to deal with?
Aside from the rent rises, the main thing has been the energy bills. All the flats here are part of a Home Heat Network, which means we’re not subject to the Ofgem cap and can’t switch to a different provider. We don’t use too much energy to keep costs down – the buildings are thankfully good at retaining heat as well – but our gas unit price went up by 700% last winter, which was a shock to the system.
Do you have plans to move again any time soon? What about buying a place?
The dream was always to buy an old place round here and do it up, but that has remained a very distant dream for some time now. We pay so much of our incomes towards rent, saving for a deposit in London is like fighting a losing battle – winning the lottery seems more likely.
We’ll probably be priced out of London once our lease is over if the rental market continues as it has been, so who knows where we’ll end up. The joys of being a tenant. It’d be exciting if it wasn’t so soul-destroying.
Do you want to feature in What I Rent?
What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what’s normal and how much we should be paying.
If you fancy taking part, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll need to take pictures of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your bedroom or living area.
Make sure you get permission from your housemates! You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.
We’re not just after the prettiest places out there, by the way. We want the reality of renting, so if you’re currently renting a place you hate, we’d love to see that too (and sympathise greatly!).
How does this compare to other places you’ve rented?
I’ve spoken about my previous two rented flats on What I Rent.
The first one was a stopgap and had so many problems, from ant infestations to a locked-up thermostat, so I’m more than happy to be shot of it.
I really liked the location of our second place and have a lot of happy memories of the time there, but after the landlord kicked us out during a global pandemic, there’s no love lost.
Shall we take a look around?
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.