Here are some things I was not told and, unfortunately, had to experience for myself. If you are flat hunting here, make sure you check the following:
1. The shower head
Turn on the shower and make sure that it works like a shower should. I failed to do this before I rented my previous room and ended up with a dribbly tap for a shower. Due to dated boilers, shitty shower heads, low water pressure, old building works or other reasons unknown, a lot of the flats in London have dribbly showers which will take you 15 minutes just to get your hair wet enough to wash. When it’s cold and you’re naked, you definitely do not want to be standing under a slow dribble of water.
2. Ask to speak to the landlord/agent directly
Very often the responsibility of renting out a room is given to another tenant in the flat, who will tell you everything you need to know. Presumably.
I’ve never had a problem with this since it’s the norm here, until I moved into my current room. I’d put my deposit down because who is now my flatmate told me that there is no minimum stay period, and only after I’ve moved in and the landlady came to collect the rent am I told that I must stay at least 6 months. Pisses me off, unnecessary haggling ensues, and you end up hating your flatmate.
3. Do not take people’s word for things to come
“We will get a TV, but we just have to wait till everyone moves in first so we can decide what we wanna get.”
“This wall here will be tiled on Saturday.”
“The bathroom light will be fixed tomorrow, we just have to wait till the landlord gets here.”
“We will get internet once you move in and we can all decide what contract we want. Yeah, I’m sure it’ll take just a week coz we have a phone line and everything is in place already.”
This is how I’ve come to have no internet access coz we don’t actually have a phone line. They may be wonderful people, and they may genuinely mean what they said. But works get delayed, disagreements happen, people are desperate for someone to move in, and idiots naturally don’t realize they’re idiots. If it’s not there, assume it either won’t be there for the next month, or that it’ll never be there.
4. No smokers, period
(If you’re a non-smoker and don’t like the smell of smoke.) They say they only smoke outside in the garden and that no smoking is allowed in the house. But really, “in the garden” means feet in the house, head poked outside, door wide open. They say they only smoke in their rooms with the windows open. But really, it gets everywhere.
5. Check your phone reception
Phone reception is taken for granted. What are we? Living in the third world?! Looking at a room one night, I wasn’t told that no one in the house had reception on their phones whatsoever (except for this one girl), until I took out my phone to use the calculator. Imagine if I’d actually taken the room. Ever since then, I’ve experienced different levels of reception in different flats. In one, I couldn’t really hold a conversation unless I step outside the house.
So there you go. Be ruthless. I’m was not.