Those flat hunting blues

When you first meet the landlord he seems avuncular and tries to convince you that he cares about his tenants and picks them with care and discernment (after all, he picked you, right?). Wrong. This man has a problem: an empty room with no rent coming in and he doesn’t much care about your personal habits or mental history as long as you’ve got the rent and deposit available in ready cash.

He may not be a Rachman, but he probably is a Rigsby (aka Leonard Rossiter in Rising Damp), so oleaginous that your palm drips after you’ve shaken hands on the lease agreement.

The first tenant you meet will be the Landlord’s Mole – easy to spot, difficult to avoid. She lives on the ground floor, at the front so she can pounce on you the second she hears your key in the latch. She will then proceed to tell you her life story, the tittle tattle on the other tenants and all about her cat (or hamster or budgie). The Landlord’s Mole has lived in the same house for ten years and thinks the landlord is a saint, which is why she’ll never move (“well, who else would take pets?”).

The next tenant is the Music Freak. It doesn’t matter whether their preference is soul, rap or funk, they live under the misguided notion that everyone else should share their exquisite taste. They normally occupy the front of the house, either first or top floor so that even when you’re in the street you won’t escape their non-stop music festival. Everything they do is noisy and you have to know about it – they bang the doors, thump the walls and have clamorous orgasms. And, believe me, you’ll definitely know when they have a party!

The Impoverished Artist, on the other hand, often loves music but can’t afford a collection as big as the Music Freak. Impoverished Artists imagine themselves as the next Jean Michel Jarre or Michelangelo. In reality they are on the dole, moonlighting in restaurants and living a fantasy. They listen to jazz, talk incessantly about Paris (which they once visited five years ago) and think that their bedsit in Bromley is actually a garret. These people appear attractive at first – warm, open, dynamic – but beware: everything (including that trip to Paris) is paid for by other people.

The Eternal Student is easy to identify. Having failed their “A” Levels they began a long, laborious “building block” process to get an HNC or HND and eventually a third class degree. Now they don’t know what to do – conditioned to life as a student and used to the DSS paying their rent, they think they might stick around and try American Studies, Women’s Studies or Politics and Economics. They have no direction in life but are always talking about where they’re going.

But you’re not one of the above, are you? You’re just another underpaid worker who can’t afford a flat of your own yet, right?