I’m leaving Dovecot Towers, but am keen to avoid letting agencies, as are many landlords. The best flats are often found through word of mouth.
A little luck is what I need. In the past, informal contacts have led to my happiest rental experiences, namely the flat I pine for: my little nest in Glasgow, which was perfect. I found it when someone knew someone, who knew someone with an empty flat. This usually arises when people move in together and they’re unsure about committing, so one partner lets their flat. It’s also common when relationships break down, and the couple sit out negative equity by renting the conjugal residence. I’m not hoping any of my friends split up, but if a couple with a really nice flat decide on an amicable separation, then here I am. Choose me!
I bumped into S, who has split up with her partner, and even as a homeowner finds herself letting the home she can’t sell in this economic climate, and is consequently renting a flat from a friend in a similar situation. Word of mouth again; it leads to some welcome informality, and no ties, but usually in a good way.
Renting from acquaintances and friends has pros and cons: it’s usually slighter cheaper (no commission) and also much easier; there’s just more give and take. It’s seems less complicated; there’s altogether less pressure on everyone: you don’t mind a little slowness with non urgent repairs, and are more willing to help out, even chipping in or sorting minor snags out yourself.
The cons are insurmountable; it’s hard to be assertive when the owner is your mate, or best buddies with a mutual friend. A in Glasgow was a sweetheart, but had the hoarding habits of a magpie or a more hygienic Mr Trebus, and insisted on storing his finds, like string, bits of various contraptions, spare parts and ‘stuff’ in my flat, which deprived me of the cupboard (and regular readers know how I feel about cupboards; I covet them as much as other women value jewellery.) But it was lovely apart from that one niggle.
There is sometimes a lack of will to formalise arrangements, but tenants, and indeed landlords really do benefit from a legal written agreement, as both have a rare tendency to turn bad. If you are made to feel awkward about needing a proper agreement, or receipts for rent paid, then it’s maybe not a good idea, unless you are house-sitting. It’s harder for the landlord to let go of the property, as they sometimes cling to the comforting notion that they can move back in, if need be.
It’s obvious really. I’m playing for time because I dread flat-hunting and moving, with the accompanying hassles of viewings, credit checks, references, deposits, guarantors and removal companies.
I need a fairy godmother, with a magic pumpkin to turn into my dream flat. Nothing fancy: just a utility room, cupboards and friendly, well-behaved neighbours.
I closed my eyes, clicked my heels and made a wish.
It didn’t work. I’m still here.