Growing Roots

being rooted, growing roots, S.C Rhyne, starting over, new life

I’m marking the end of my third month in London by placing a holding deposit on a flat. This was a tough decision for me overall since the system is very different, and I had to not let the estate agent’s high pressure tactics, distract me from thinking through my options carefully.

For the last week I had two apartments in mind, in the same neighborhood with similar features except with a monthly difference of 25 GBP. I fell in love with the second flat since its layout was unique, and on the first impression was presented very well. (It is common to show an apartment or home in the U.K that hasn’t been cleaned. So imagine my surprise walking into a bathroom with a grayish bathtub inside). I placed offers on both places, and spent the week negotiating, the first one — the hungrier agent came back to me with a 10% markdown and asked for the deposit right away. The second one, the landlord (according to the agent) was a little wary about renting to someone without a history in the U.K and so the agent was spending a little more time negotiating with her.

I spent the last two or three days sending emails back and forth asking very specific questions about my deposit, when the cleaning will take place, and how it will be cleaned, my eligibility–since I have been in the U.K less than three months, etc…before I decided on Friday night to send my holding deposit and go through the referencing check. Heck, I was as open and forthcoming as possible — so if I fail referencing they will have to give my deposit back, right?

This wasn’t the apartment I “fell in love” with, but its still a great apartment! I have optimism about redecorating the space to make it my own.

The second agent came back with a positive acceptance on my dream home, but I will wait a couple days before telling her I will withdraw. Who knows what Monday or Tuesday will bring with these other guys?

So, you’d think that last night I went to bed all calm and peaceful with my decision, but I still had many scenarios running through my head. I haven’t seen the lease or tenancy agreement yet of course, but I kept wondering about what if certain key items are not stipulated?

The agency manages the flat, so what if they don’t make repairs in a timely manner? Is it legal in this country to go without heat and hot water for months, because the landlord “can’t afford to fix it”? This is what my landlady’s daughter said, although it sounds rubbish to me. It is a legitimate agency that’s based all over the U.K with a few overseas offices, so it makes me calm but yet suspicious that I will be treated like a number. What if the building burns down or becomes inhabitable for another reason — will the agency provide me with a place to stay temporarily and reimburse my deposit and the couple months that I put down in advance?

One always hopes for the best, but we need to be prepared for the worst case scenario; so I want to be sure that I have protection or recourse. But I have to admit, this worrying may stem from another place. Up until now, I still considered my situation here in the U.K temporary. It really seems like a long vacation, I think about my time in weeks and have a hard time picturing where or what I’ll be in a month or two. My room– in a quaint part of northern London was temporary, my job — collecting data for the finance sector in Central London was temporary and suppose to end next week, and I always joked that I’m just giving this “postgrad thing” a shot, but somewhere in the last week or two that has all changed.

My housing will not be temporary, as I asked for a 2 year lease. My HR person at work acted like I was crazy when I asked her to verify that my 8 weeks are up, “You have a temporary rolling contract, some of these employees have been here a year and only had two weeks off”. And I submitted my literature review which received positive feedback and am now networking with people who are working in the field that I want to be in, and are commending me for taking on this project.

Everything is taking place, in fact even in the beginning of this post I wrote “neighbourhood” automatically, but my American spellchecker caught it and I changed it quickly. It’s a strange panicky feeling in the pit of my gut as I think about how all this is routine now. Waking up, tea and porridge, read a little, shower, hop on the tube – not the subway, my slow computer at work,  grab a few things at Tesco or Sainsbury, come home type up some notes on the computer, check emails…, shower, another cup of tea, see what’s on the American news, text my friends on Facebook, and fall asleep before they can respond because many are on their way home from work.

And while I’m ranting, I could mention I’m almost through with a great novel called, Half of the Yellow Sun, that has been occupying my reading time this week, instead of dry academic writings for my project.

I’m not even looking forward to my Sunday softball game in a couple hours. My shoulder aches and I don’t understand how the temperature is reading higher than yesterday, but its cold and cloudy.

I’m growing roots, but I’m afraid I’ll be stuck again.

 

37 thoughts on “Growing Roots

  1. It’s absolutely illegal for a Landlord not to sort out the heat and hot water promptly in the UK. However many bad landlords don’t and hope that their tenants will be too frightened of being evicted to report them. Lack of hot water and heat is something you can withhold rent for if it doesn’t work. My parents let out two properties. There is a vast gap between decent Landlords and the ghastly ones.

    I hope you end up loving London as much as I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sorting this out. Again, I couldn’t believe it when my friend told me this. She was like it happens when landlords don’t have the money to fix it. I hope she wasn’t defending those property owners, because most landlords take out insurance (in the U.S) in case things like that happen. So being broke is no excuse!

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  2. Hi. If you have a shorthold assured tenancy then there are standard clauses that should be included with regards to your rights and the landlord’s rights. This is the most common form of rental agreement and the one I’ve used in numerous rentals – however landlords and their agents will omit / add things according to what they want.

    A good place to start is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/model-agreement-for-a-shorthold-assured-tenancy – this gives you an example agreement and what to look for. This is used for agreements up to 2 years so you may have a different one / want to negotiate around some things due to the longer tenancy (as it’s beneficial to the landlord so I would ask for rent to be held without review, etc).

    There are always landlord obligations (such as fixing things) and tenant obligations (such as notifying the landlord of things to be fixed and keeping the property in a habitable condition). In my experience, landlords are variable but generally you have their contact details so can chase them up. If an agent will be managing the rental (they may just be managing the initial selection and not the tenancy – check) then you have their contact details easily.

    Clauses to watch out for in my experience:
    – Stuff that doesn’t apply (eg maintaining garden or common areas in a block of flats – you shouldn’t have to do this)
    – Keeping certain things in the flat such as bicycles – you may want to do this as they can be prone to theft.
    – Break clauses – a shorthold assured tenancy usually has a 6 month break clause but runs for a year. Your proposed 2 years is quite a tie in. If you think your circumstances might change then you might want to use the standard agreement and if you go over a year then it runs on at same terms so you’re still protected (the notice period changes to 1-2 months after the initial 6 month period). That means you won’t have to pay a year’s rent if you move out after a year! Plus you may end up wanting to move areas if your job changes. Usually landlords want you to stay more often than not – it is a pain finding new tenants so you’re really in a decent position if you find a place you like.
    – Deposit protection – this is now regulated so you should get your landlord to provide you a scheme number. In the old days unscrupulous landlords could take your deposit and you wouldn’t get it back / they would deduct stupid things. It’s much better now as they can’t spend it.

    Hope you enjoy London – it’s great!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I meant remove rent reviews which are usually written into your contract, if you are going to be renting for two years. As that’s quite unusual (at least in my experience) so if you’re giving them the benefit of tying yourself into a lover contract then I would make sure they hold the rent at the same level rather than giving you a rent increase each year!

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      2. Another thing that doesn’t apply to you I’m guessing is a standard clause around pets. I have a dog so I had that clause banning pets removed from my contract. Basically, question everything. I got told last time “I never had anyone question this contract before!” and I said, well that’s my job (contracts) so I am going to question it! They often try and say things like “oh this is just standard but it won’t apply to you” – it does apply to you if it’s in a contract you’ve signed. Most landlords are okay I think, but just be on your guard and look after your interests!

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      3. Great, I was thinking about the pets, although I do not have one now. But wanted an open option. I think they already know that I will have questions, as I went back and forth about paying extra months up front and where that money will be held and having the apartment cleaned before I move in. So I’ll make sure that those conditions are on the lease too.

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  3. Hi there, I am happy to hear you are growing roots in London. It is an amazing city. What might distinguish it in terms of urban and social life from New York City, that one can not call it a city that never sleeps. It has times and places of wild life and vivid activities, for instance when all the theaters are spitting the audience out after the shows, or at Saturday nights. But it also has moments of tranquility and rest, when one can feel almost alone on the streets, in parks and gardens or along the river.

    I hope you make the best choice with the appartment. I would not draw to much attention to the age of a bathing tube. It might already be National Trust listed as a part of a historical heritage interior !!! Building things can be very special in the UK. The water piping system seems to be designed to confuse intruding enimies. It took me some month to understand how to take a shower with two separate tabs: one burning hot, one freezing cold.
    But all these things can be dealt with. But what is really important on the long term (and usually not obvious at a single visit) is the location (neighbourhood). Not just for buying a property, but equally if you just want to rent for a limitted time: Location, location, location. I even would go as far to accept a slightly smaller apartment in a neighbourhood that is safe and pleasant, as the opposite.

    best regards,
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael. Thanks so much for your feedback, I really appreciate it. I realize this all just a learning curve for me; so I hope that I can ease off enough to relax and enjoy the ride that this opportunity of living in another country brings with, and not get too hung up on “this moment”. Anyway, things have been looking up for me so far, so as long as I keep heading in that direction.

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  4. Sounds exciting! Great for you. I wanna do a stint in London and or Paris at some point so I like reading about it. I’ve found Parisian bloggers who blog all in French! (Naturally I guess.) And I’ve been meaning to pick up Half a Yellow Sun. I watched the movie on Netflix.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi MaysOriginalSelf, Thank you for your kind words, I never thought of myself as this, and I always try to keep it honest without sounding that I’m rambling/ranting, so I hope I found the right balance.

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