Wednesday, September 26The Voice of London

London Rent: Flat Share Horror Stories

A flat share in hell or a cuboard under the stairs for £500 a month? As London rent prices skyrocket, young professionals are forced into extreme living conditions.

Words: Toni Hart, Natalia Brancho, Yasmin Harding, Yeganeh Ameri
Video: Alex Hurd, Alina Kay

“The house was cold and dark. The only sound was that of a steady drip… drip… drip coming from somewhere by the street door. She treaded carefully towards the noise and to her horror… there were the contents of her flatmates toilet dripping through the ceiling…” Like all great horror stories which crop up around Halloween, this is a true story.

The idea of living in London conjures all sorts of glamorous fantasies; mingling with the wealthy, dining in fancy restaurants, living a life of luxury. But unless you’re the offspring of some rich tycoon, this is simply a fantasy. If you want to live in London, chances are you will have to face flat sharing at some point.

Eight million people live in London and it’s becoming increasingly popular. The capital is the place for big job opportunities, attracting 370 thousand people in 2013. London has never really needed a plug to get people to visit – it’s a self-advertising city. It is proud of its variety of people, colours and shapes.

Areas that before you may not want to walk down on a Saturday night are now becoming the hubs of the city, with East London being the most go-to place among the younger generations. With this increased demand for housing comes a shortage of supply, and a continuous rise in house prices.

The cost of living in London is now becoming so unaffordable that more people are now opting to move to the outskirts and live in the rural areas of Essex and Kent. However commuting into the city day in day out is just not an option for many people and flat sharing becomes the solution.

Many of us have been unfortunate enough to have to survive in hell pits of houses and battle with the devil himself, posing in the form of a dodgy landlord.

This is just a small price to pay to live in the big city as even a cupboard under the stairs will cost you £500 a month nowadays .



The housing crisis is affecting certain parts of London more than others. Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster are home to the elite and carry with them the house prices to match. Other boroughs such as Newham and Hackney are the most deprived in the city. Ten years ago these would have been places you threatened to send your naughty children to, but are slowly becoming the places to be. The average price of renting a property in parts of Newham is just £92 cheaper than Camden Town, at £1384.

So if you’re still undeterred about flat sharing after hearing our horror stories and crazy house prices, here is our “what to expect” guide to understanding the burdens of some popular spots in the capital.


East – Dalston/Hackney

– Nearest station – Dalston Kingsland (zone 2)

Photo By: Yeganeh Ameri, Yasmin Harding

– Rough distance from central London – 20 mins commute

– Average rent per week (one room in a house share) – £350

– Entertainment around the area

  • Student friendly clubs
  • Coffee shops
  • Independent bookstores
  • Art shops, galleries
  • Rio cinema, Arthouse cinema
  • Pound shops

– Possible nightmares of living here

  • A lot of open markets and butchers – could attract rats and mice
  • Young man cutting wrist on the bus.


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North – Camden/ Kentish Town

– Nearest station – Camden Town, Kentish Town, Mornington Crescent, Chalk Farm (zone 2)

Photo By: Yeganeh Ameri and Yasmin Harding

– Rough distance from central London – 15 mins commute

– Average rent per week (on the high street) – £550

– Entertainment around the area

  • Pubs, coffee shops, vegan restaurants, bars, sushi
  • Market, fresh food and produce
  • Buffet, shisha bars
  • Student friendly clubs
  • Street performers, street art
  • Tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Gay friendly area

– Possible nightmares of living here

  • Loud music from the bars around
  • A lot of sirens and ambulances
  • Drunk people usually around
  • Big music scene – your roomie could end up blasting music every night.
  • Living with creative people could lead to a lot of mess like paint and instruments everywhere.
  • You could end up being peer pressured into getting tattoos and piercings that you don’t need.
  • So many cheap bars around that you and your flatmates could end up spending your month’s wages on becoming alcoholics.


West – Shepherds Bush

– Nearest station – White City, Shepherds Bush, Shepherds Bush Market (zone 2)

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Photo By: Yeganeh Ameri and Yasmin Harding

– Rough distance from central London – 10 mins commute

– Average rent per week – £324

– Entertainment around the area

  • Westfield Shopping Centre
  • Chicken shops
  • Supermarkets
  • Cinemas
  • Gym
  • Halal friendly
  • Market, fabric stores
  • Coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and bars
  • O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

– Possible nightmares of living here

  • Entertainment is slightly pricier and therefore you may be holding more flat parties than going out, you could end up becoming a shop-a-holic considering how close you live to one of the largest shopping centres in Europe
  • Food poisoning from the chicken shops.
  • Spitman

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Central – Knightsbridge

– Nearest station– Knightsbridge (zone 1)

Photo By: Yeganeh Ameri and Yasmin Harding

– Rough distance from central London – Mate, walk around. You ARE in central.

– Average rent per week– £1,195 hahaha *cries inside*

Entertainment around the area

  • Harrods, luxurious high end stores, window shopping, a few high street stores such as H&M and Zara
  • Restaurants
  • Shisha lounges
  • Coffee shops
  • National geography café
  • National History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Hyde park
  • Hotels

– Possible nightmares of living here

  • Surviving on pot noodle because you pay so much for rent
  • Living with snobs
  • Living off your parents money and never understanding something known as ‘financial issues’
  • Being in denial that you’re not a rich Arab
  • Spending a lot of money just to ‘fit in’
  • Flatmate loses diamond earrings.


South – Richmond

– Nearest station – Richmond Overground (zone 4)

Photo By: Yeganeh Ameri and Yasmin Harding

– Rough distance from central London – 35 mins commute

– Average rent per week – £691- £2,995

– Entertainment around the area

  • Coffee shops
  • Restaurants
  • Fancy bars, pubs
  • Shops
  • Richmond park
  • Laughing at old people

– Possible nightmares of living here

  • There are hardly any nightmares since it’s such a family friendly area therefore your nightmare could be boredom from lack of students around.
  • However if you live around Croydon, we can’t guarantee the happy life.

Mould, falling ceilings, dodgy landlords and sewage are all almost unavoidable components of the London flat sharing experience. The likelihood of young professionals encountering something similar whilst renting in the capital is very high. But it’s take it or leave it, quite literally; flat sharing is a necessary of evil if you want to live in this Great British city.