What I Rent: Hannah, £1,350 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Homerton, London

Welcome back to What I Rent.

For anyone not in the know, this is our series all about the ins and outs of renting in the UK and beyond.

Each week we have a nose around a different person’s rented property, and chat with them about their rental experiences.

Last week we were in Ealing Broadway with Lucy, who moved into her one-bedroom flat just before the pandemic hit.

This time we’re back in London, but this time in Homerton, with Hannah, 34, who works as a communications manager.

Hannah has lived in London for nearly 10 years, always north of the river,

She moved into her current one-bedroom flat in lockdown, when she was in need of a quiet place to work from home that was still close to the office.

Here’s what she rents.

Hey, Hannah! How much do you pay to live here?

I pay £1,350 per month. It was advertised for £1400 during the first lockdown, but I asked for £50 off and as the market was really quiet at that time, I got it knocked off straightaway. I should have asked for a bigger reduction!

With bills the total cost comes to about £1,600.

This includes £77 for council tax (with single person discount), approx. £40 for electricity, £30 for gas, £29 for internet and £30 for water.

I try to keep bills as low as possible; I’ve not watched terrestrial TV for about nine years because I could never be bothered sorting out the aerial and TV license (adverts are a foreign concept to me!) and I’m on something like an £8 data-only phone contract.

And what do you get for what you pay?

There’s a living room, large kitchen, bathroom, and a double bedroom, and a long hallway which doubles as my keyboard practising space/library.

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My flat is the lower ground floor, so I get all the front yard as well as the back garden.

I love gardening and having a space of my own outside, so the fact it has a back garden is great, and the sunny front yard is a bonus too.

Do you feel like you have a good deal?

I definitely do have a good deal for a one-person space, especially as it has a garden.

It’s large and everything works (there’s very little mould!) and the landlord has been quick to fix problems.

The living room faces south so it gets a lot of sunlight during the day, which is cheerful while I work.

I love how I am close to lots of green open spaces but can get into town quickly on the Overground too.

Something that wasn’t mentioned in the contract was how the flat comes with a free cat – Percy – he comes to visit regularly, though his main residence is next door.

What do you think of the area?

I’m on a quiet street very close to large green spaces – one being Victoria Park – and the canal, which is really lovely to walk around.

I especially enjoyed picking blackberries by the canal in the autumn and going to the food market in Victoria Park (which was open between lockdowns).

A couple of my favourite cafes are also in walking distance. Chatsworth Road, with all its restaurants and nearby pubs, is also very close, but sadly they’ve been closed for most of the time since I moved here.

Most of my neighbours seem to be artists or in the acting industry. The creative vibe from Hackney Wick definitely spills over into Homerton!

How did you find this property?

I found it on Rightmove. I can’t stand agencies so I’ve flirted with OpenRent, but the website isn’t as user-friendly and a lot of the properties seem really dreary and poorly-maintained. So I had to go with a letting agency after all.

I wasn’t sure what area to move to in order to find a quiet lockdown flat, but a friend of mine at the time was thinking of buying a flat in Homerton (and has since been forced to withdraw from the sale because it has bad cladding) and when I saw that there was a garden flat going for under £1,500 in the area, I snapped it up.

How have you made the flat feel like home?

I suck at furnishing, I don’t have the patience for it. No Instagram account to plug here for me (well I do have one, but I only follow Simpsons and dog accounts, which may not be in the spirit of this article).

I had a long roll of wallpaper left over from a present (long story) which I’ve stuck along the wall of the long hallway to brighten it up, because it was rather dark and plain before, and I didn’t want to risk painting.

I try to keep the nice original fireplace as clear as possible, and stuck my electric heater in there because it has a fire lighting effect, which has been super cosy this winter.

My one attempt at being arty was drying out some leaves that fell locally this autumn and putting them in the fireplace. I don’t think I quite achieved the intended effect but it makes me smile.

Did I mention I like plants? I’ve got a mix of houseplants and outdoor plants going on in my living room at the moment. I’m usually juggling my laptop around the plant pots for meetings while WFH.

My furniture is all a mishmash of nine-year old Ikea/Argos plywood slightly worn rubbish or free stuff I’ve grabbed over the years, so there’s been no attempt at making colour themes or whatever, which my boyfriend moans about often. I think he’s better at this stuff than me. He particularly wants me to get rid of my coffee table (which was free!) before I move out, which breaks my heart.

Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?

I haven’t even tried, apart from going round with a magnolia paintbrush and filling in any scuffs on the walls. I am so bored of magnolia though.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Yes – plenty. It’s going to be difficult to get used to sharing space again when I move out.

I have almost too much here, there are corners in this flat that aren’t even doing anything, and I’ve only explored the back of the bomb shelter at the bottom of the garden once (the bracken there ultimately defeated me).

Are there any problems with the flat?

This is where I get to rant. I think this place was advertised for a relatively cheap price because it’s a basement flat and they’re usually unpopular with tenants, but I’ve barely experienced any noise issues. I can occasionally hear my neighbour walking around upstairs but weirdly it’s only ever for five minutes or so between 10pm-11pm.

It’s also in a high-crime area and pretty much every time I go outside I’ll see some really unwell people and drug addicts just casually wandering around, which is quite depressing.

The worst is the temper tantrums from my next-door neighbour, when he throws stuff at the shared wall or fights loudly with his family every few weeks or so, and the smell of weed and cigarette smoke, which comes through pretty often. But I leave them alone and they leave me alone.

I was expecting my plants in the front yard to have been stolen by now, but they’re still there at the time of writing.

I asked the letting agency if there was anything that could be done to fix the windows, as they’re the property’s original sash ones with gaps and not only get draughty in winter, but let in more of the smell from next door too. Within a few weeks they sent round a couple of guys to do them up and it’s improved a lot since.

The boiler is old and broke down once – on a day when it was -1 degrees outside – but someone came over to fix it the same day which was great.

It is a cold flat as it’s a basement flat and has high ceilings etc. – I have heating on for most of the day in winter – but it warms up again quickly and bills haven’t actually been too bad.

Do you have plans to move any time soon?

Yes – next month! I’ve enjoyed my time here and it’s been nice and quiet for WFH, but I’m keen to make the most of a sunnier garden and a generally safer area to live in.

I currently rent alone but am moving in with my partner into another flat very soon, as this flat has one bedroom and we would like an extra bedroom to allow us to both work from home.

It doesn’t look like I’ll get called back to the office any time soon, so we’re moving a bit further out, while being able to travel into the centre easily to see friends.

And are you keen to buy a place?

It’ll take me a few years yet for me and my partner to save enough for a deposit, but it’s our goal. For now I’m happy living close to the centre, near friends, and fun stuff.

What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am.

Check back next week to have another nose around a rented property.

How to get involved 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 [email protected] 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!).

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