An Englishman’s home is his castle


I bought flowers today. I don’t recall when I last bought flowers. Years ago. There are more viewings of the flat tomorrow so I’m trying to make an effort.

The psychological state of mind you need to adopt, when renting out your home of the past 7.5 years, is one that I’ve yet to find myself in. I don’t much like the idea of strangers traipsing around my home.

It was never my intention to rent out my flat. It was my intention to sell it. But due to leaseholder/freeholder issues which are going to take quite some time to resolve (including the renewal of the lease, something I need to do before I sell) – I’m now biting the bullet. If I want that elusive ‘change’ that I have craved and talked about for so long – I need to stop vacillating and take action.

It’s hard to know what kind of people will rent the flat. It’s a nice area. I would go so far as to say a very nice area. But I’m right on the very edge of that area. I’m a little too far from the station for the yuppy set who work long hours. The building is a bit too big (versus Victorian conversion flats which most young professionals want). And the current clientèle within the building is… too mixed. When I bought the flat, way back at the end of 2002 – I experienced it as ‘bohemian’. It had that ‘solid but could do with a lick of paint’ feel to it. There were arty types living here. The couple I bought from had just had a baby (he was a graphic designer). The neighbour on one side worked for a film distribution company. There were two young women living in the flat on the other side. Possibly students. The building has now had that lick of paint (and a lot more) and actually looks really good. But ironically, this isn’t reflected in the tenants.

A university friend rented my (small) second bedroom those first three years. It was great, that was half the mortgage paid. During the early years I was comparatively happy here. But I never, ever expected to stay this long. This is – in my eyes – a ‘starter flat’. A foothold on the ladder. And to that end it’s been great. But it was never somewhere I would have, in a million years, thought to still be 7.5 years after buying it. Everyone else has moved on. Most of my peers have moved 2-3 times since I’ve been here. I’ve always felt… left behind, somehow. And I wouldn’t buy a leasehold property again. Too many problems. Most freeholders are total swines and the complexity of leaseholder/freeholder dealings (far too complex to go into on this blog) I couldn’t face dealing with again.

Of course it’s not all been bad. Compared to today’s prices, the flat was comparatively cheap. The mortgage – especially in my current job – is very affordable. It’s so affordable that I’ve over-paid on the mortgage for much of the past 4-5 years (this is one of the most efficient ways of saving money). I’ve paid a large chunk off. This is all good. But it’s prudent and safe and boring, too.

So anyway. The plan is to rent it out. For about a year. I don’t know what type of person will rent it. My ex-neighbours were both accountants in the City. Professional types. The guy in there now… is not what I’d call a professional type. I don’t know what he does. He certainly doesn’t appear to work. The resident make up here has… changed over the past few years. Changed and not in a good way. I won’t elaborate on how and why because it is complex, subjective and unlikely to be sympathised with by the politically correct – and invariably hypocritical – set. I just want to live with people like me. Who have jobs like mine and interests like mine. That isn’t snobbishness or arrogance; it’s human nature.

Tulips on my ‘starter’ dining table.

And don’t even ask about where I’m moving to. I have no idea. That’s part B and comes after part A which is to find a tenant. I am extremely lucky to have a close friend who lives up the road who has offered to put me up whilst I’m flat hunting so that’s a big weight off my mind.

3 thoughts on “An Englishman’s home is his castle

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  1. I’d want to vet anyone who wanted to rent my home. I’d be far too picky.
    Hope you get someone soon.
    Would love to be able to make extra payments but I never have any spare cash these days. I should definitely give up the fags and use that money.

  2. When Campbell and I rented out our respective properties last year, to fund a third property to move in to, the complexity of the transactions nearly undid the deal.

    Both of our places needed a little work, the financials seemed complex and the move seemed a massive job.

    Like you, I was surprised to count the years to find I had been in my house for 15 years!!! Where had the time gone. Several friends had (sequentially) rented a room which was great for the mortgage early on. But 15 years acquires a lot of rubbish.

    In the end, I have rented my house to one of my nephews. He is 22 and was looking for a place to start life with his girlfriend. A brave move for them both, and it is good to know he can focus on his relationship rather than worry about the property. How long do first loves last these days???

    Now, months later, I am amazed at the little pleasant changes that appear as a consequence of moving. Little mindless routines have altered or disappeared. And this place feels like the right place to be. My obsession about the state of the house I own has abated considerably. Even if the young ones damage the house, it can easily be repaired for re-rental or sale.

    So, good luck with the renting, the packing and move, and I hope you enjoy the hunting for a new place to call home.

  3. Mancais – the reason I can make extra payments is because it’s my ‘first flat’. If I was living on flat 2 or 3 (which I should be), the mortgage payments would be such that I wouldn’t then be doing overpayments.

    Paul – yeh, so much read tape isn’t there?! Is a nightmare. Doubly annoying as I’m not good with red tape. Even in 7.5 years I acquired a lot of junk. Have managed to jettison some of it. I can’t WAIT to move! Not at that point yet though.

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