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The Rules of Flat Hunting

28/01/2011

So in the last few weeks I have unexpectedly ended up on both sides of the flat hunting divide: looking for a room, and now I’m advertising a room. It seems to me that basic flat hunting skills are non-existent in many quarters. So this is my thinking of the…

…Rules of flat hunting:

When you are looking for a room:

If you are looking for a room in an already occupied flat, start looking about a month before you need to move in or have things sorted. I think that’s when people advertise. If you are looking at agencies, start looking far more in advance. They tend to have things a couple of months earlier.

Read the advert carefully. Work out if the room and flat will be suitable for you, and if you are suitable for them. If it says they would like a female, and you’re a guy, you might want to cut your losses. Same if your working status doesn’t match with their ideal.

Does the rental price match the room? If it’s a fancy looking room with a rental price half of normal, it’s a scam. Don’t go there. Gumtree is full of this. It also has a lot of genuine adverts, so you have to work out the wheat from the chaff.

If you do decide to write to them remember this is their first impression of you. Write in proper English, i.e. with sentence structure and grammar. While I understand that for some foreigners, putting the words in the right order is not always easy and there can be slippages, but surely capitals at the beginning of sentences and full stops at the end is a basic thing you could remember?

Be polite. Think of it like an audition. Would you let a rude person who obviously hasn’t read the advert properly into your flat? No, I didn’t think so.

Put in a bit of information about you. I found that when I started doing this I got a lot more proper responses. How old you are, why you need to move, whether you are a student or professional and a BRIEF statement on how you live, like are you sociable, out a lot, introvert, keep yourself to yourself? I don’t think interests are that important, especially as people always tend to put the same stuff like, “I’m happy to be in with a book”, or “I’m an active sporty person”. That’s great, but it doesn’t really affect me.

Pictures. A picture of you in a room wanted advert is a hard thing to do well. I’ve seen people in outdoors, obviously being all healthy, pictures of you in a club, gurning, taken on a phone and possibly with friends (actually those are the ones I mind the least), and my favourite disaster so far, a picture of a would-be flatmate and Ross Kemp. Sorry, but no. He was unsuitable anyway, being male, 39  and with bad spelling, but that just put the icing on the cake.

Lastly, when you do write, proof read! It’s unlikely your enquiry is long (if it is, that’s not good) so just give it a quick look over and get the spellings right. When I was flat hunting, I ended up creating a standard enquiry email with my personal details and when I was available for flat viewings. That way I knew it was already fine, and then I would add in any specific information or questions I felt relevant, in particular stating I was willing to pay council tax if the flat was currently occupied otherwise by students.

And now for a quick P.S on this: the Ross Kemp guy has just sent me a very rude reply to my refusal. I didn’t get a good impression of you before. What the hell do you think that’s going to achieve?

When viewing the flat: take your time. Have a look round the RELEVANT rooms (i.e. the room advertised for you, and shared areas but not anyone else’s bedrooms.) Speak to the host, who should ideally be the person(s) you will live with. Ask questions about anything you are not sure of, such as who owns the flat, is it a private landlord or letting agency? Also try and see if you can have a more random chat with the host about something not directly related to the flat building. I know this is strange advice, but it’s probably the easiest way to figure out if you’ll get on with them. This can be what they do for work or study, whether you maybe have friends or a situation in common.

Be fairly honest about what impression you have and how interested you are. Don’t say to them you hate the place, no way I’m going to live here, even if that’s what you’re thinking. If that’s you’re thinking, just say “thank you for showing me round, I’ll let you know” (and when you are likely to let them know).

After doing all your flat viewings, weigh up your options. There should hopefully be ones you like, ones you really don’t and middling ones that might do. Realise that generally it’s time sensitive, you need to be the first one in the door if you want somewhere. Get in touch with every viewing you did so they know where they stand (if they don’t get in touch with you first). To those you don’t want, just text or email saying you won’t be taking it, and that you hope they find someone soon. To those you want, express how keen you are by stating you can get the deposit and rent together as soon as needed. Then wait. If you haven’t heard anything in a day, try again, preferably by another method of communication in case the first didn’t work for some reason (if you texted first time, then email, or vice versa). If they politely refuse or say someone else has taken the room, then reply thanking them for their time and move on to the next option. If they say yes, then well done, and you can start discussing procedures to secure the room.

 

If you are advertising a room:

Be detailed about certain things. I’ve seen random things put in adverts such as detail about the sofa, such as it sits 3 people. I don’t really need to know that. Pertinent details include: what the actual room you’re getting is like, and picture if possible (unfortunately I’ve failed to produce a picture yet, as I can’t til I move in). Details about shared areas such as the kitchen, lounge and bathroom. I personally would like to know how modern the fittings are, what the shower situation is and an impression of the size of the place. Who currently occupies the flat, as in ages, occupations (including if it’s 9-5 or shift work) and possibly where you are from? Is the room available full time, or Mon-Fri only? Are bills included in the rent? If not, how much are bills roughly, and what is it comprised of? What council tax band are you? (Students don’t tend to know this for obvious reasons.) Is there internet? What kind of flatmate you would like: Whether you’re expecting to socialise a lot with your flatmates, or whether you’ll stay in your room, do they have to be a certain sex, age, occupation and how flexible are you about this? I’ve seen adverts where people say they are happy to have almost anybody, but in reality they’re not, so be honest from the start.

Write it in proper English as much as possible. Text speak is definitely a no-no. Try to be friendly in tone, but still business like in terms of details. Don’t be brusque. One advert I saw had in capital letters (the rest was normal) something along the lines of DON’T BE OFFENDED IF I DON’T REPLY QUICKLY, I’M A VERY BUSY PERSON. Not a great impression. I understand why she wrote that, but still, you do want people to live with you.

When people reply to your advert, be polite and let them know when you’re doing viewings. Actually that’s a point, only advertise if you know when you can do viewings, and that it is in the next week  ideally. Otherwise you’ll probably lose people’s interest. Try and space the viewings out and have one person or couple at a time. It can intimidating otherwise, for both you and the viewer.

Tidy the flat for viewings. Obvious maybe, but still. When someone arrives, shake their hand, give good eye contact and ask how they are and if they found it ok.

When showing someone round the flat, don’t rush them round. Make sure they’ve happily seen each room before moving on to the next place. I for one will be appreciating that it is hard to say much about rooms sometimes. At one point I saw four places in one day, and there really isn’t much variation on “that’s nice” or “it’s a good size” before you start going nuts.

Ask them if they’re happy they’ve seen everything, and whether they have any other questions. Answer questions as honestly as possible. They’ll probably head off after this, so ask them to let you know whether they’ll take it or not, and escort them out the door.

Take a breather, and start again.

I’m doing flat viewings on Tuesday, so I’ll try to bear my rules in mind.

Political Ramble

26/09/2010

So the Labour Party have now got Ed Miliband as their leader. Note I do not say the Labour Party has elected Ed Miliband as their leader, because I’m not entirely convinced they have. The vote went down to the wire and Ed won over his brother David by 1.3% in the last round. David had been ahead every round before, and the stats show that Ed won over his brother on trade union votes. Those folks in trade unions are not necessarily members of the labour party themselves. They could even be members of another political party. It seems absurd to me that a member of the Liberal Democrats could be able to vote for the Labour Party leader. Also, if you are a member of a trade union, and a member of the Labour Party (and many are), then you get two votes, at least. I’m not against trade unions in the slightest, and I think they get an awful lot of bad press these days which partly cannot be helped because generally they come to public attention when they strike, or threaten to, a move which isn’t popular with the general public understandably for the inconvenience it causes, but it is a last resort and is most certainly not the only work a TU does. They do a lot of individual representation in employment tribunals and ensure that workers can understand their way round employment and health & safety law, as well as being a collective group that can bargain with the employer on a bigger platform, and hopefully ensure at the very least safe working conditions and fair pay. Those who work in the public sector (and are thus employed by the government somehow) are more likely to be in a TU than those working in the private sector, which means that the government’s own workers are petitioning the government, and have perhaps some undue influence there. I think that there should be more TUs representing private sector workers, as there is no reason they shouldn’t expect the same standards of work and pay. Sometimes private sector workplaces are better than public sector, but the private sector employee is not usually as secure in their job as a public sector one, which has pros and cons I’m not going into here, as I’m getting completely off point.
So first issue with EM’s election: it’s not a members win, it’s a trade union win, and the vote is distorted by the fact that many people have more than one vote. So the obvious reform here is to change this to 1 member = 1 vote. You can include TU members in this, and just ensure that each name only returns one paper.
Second issue: I just can’t see him as the next prime minister. He doesn’t have a media friendly way somehow, his face is plain weird, which I know is the oddest statement to make, but this ain’t the age of radio anymore. How you look on TV, in the papers and on the internet counts for a lot these days. I’m not saying I can’t be changed on this point, and later think that Ed might well have a chance. I particularly look forward to seeing how he does at PMQs. After the result was announced, Ladbrokes put the odds of the Conservatives winning the 2005 election up, and I’d have agree with them just now. Had David Miliband won, my feeling would have been otherwise. That guy to me had that X factor of what makes a PM, and a media friendly face.
The problem with all this? We’re at the beginning of a long road, it’s another four years and 7 months until the next general election, and all manner of things could happen and will happen in that time. On the other side from Labour is a coalition government which is still finding it’s feet and to some extent always will be. It’s a big experiment in democracy bringing together Conservatives and Liberal Democrats during peace time. Last time we had a coalition government, it was a pragmatic decision where the sides put down their differences in order to come together to win a war. This time it’s a pragmatic decision made to reduce a huge deficit and get round a difficult election result. Or at least I hope it is. I’m a member of the Liberal Democrats, so I’ve had a part to play in this coalition, and now, nearly 5 months later and despite Nick Clegg’s speech in Liverpool, I still have fundamental ideological problems with the fact that my party has helped bring the Tories back into power, because the one thing I’m definitely not, and never could be, is a Conservative. And now in some ways, we are heartbeat away from them.
Bear in mind I’m not a politics student, I really don’t think I’m any kind of expert on political matters and so most of what I’ve just said really isn’t that great. But it’s my two cents anyway.

New site

31/08/2010

I should probably start writing for mashable, the number of social network type sites I’m on these days is shameful. There is new one now, tumblr, and I can be found at http://ketisfolk.tumblr.com, though I’m having a hard time working out the exact purpose of it, it does look more friendly for specific posts about a video or song or even a conversation that you want to put up on a whim, which I wouldn’t really bother with here, where I’m more wordy. Don’t worry, I’ll still be posting here from time to time, as regularly as I ever do anyway, and posts put up here will go over to tumblr as well. I’ve also started a blog on tumblr about Unitarianism, but I’m not sure it’s really the most suitable format, so that might be doing a bunk soon. It’s at http://iamuu.tumblr.com, just in case you want to sneak a peak.

What now?

15/07/2010

How do you pick up the threads of an old
life? How do you go on, when in your heart
you begin to understand. There is no going
back. There are some things that time
cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep.
That have taken hold.

While I am certainly not going over to the Grey Havens, this is a time of enormous change.

I failed to be elected for the sabbatical position I so craved, a role which I realised recently was the closest I had felt to a vocational calling than anything else I have ever considered. So I was heartbroken the night that the result was announced, worried because my dissertation was non-existent and due in 4 weeks, and so I got more pissed than I have in quite some time and went home with a friend, shall we say? Although I’m still annoyed I lost, I’m no longer that fussed. I don’t think the person who won will be any great shakes, but then I’m not convinced I would have been either.

The other consequence of losing; moving back to Edinburgh. I can’t afford to stay on in Aberdeen without a definite source of income, as it would mean eating into my precious savings, which are for something better than hanging around in a place I no longer really need to be. I think this is my time for a rumspringa of sorts, to try and determine where I want to be and what I want to be doing. After 4 years at university, I’m not really any wiser. Kathryn and I were having a conversation just now about how we have changed. I’m not sure I’ve changed that much, other than that I fiercely value my independence now, hence why moving back is something I’m not looking forward to. I love my mum, but she nags and wants to know everything. Being 135 miles away and only speaking on the phone means I can limit what she knows. For instance, right now, I could bring somebody home and although it would be the subject of gossip, it wouldn’t be subject to the scrutiny of my mum.

Most people I know are staying on at university for another year, for whatever reason. I have to discover the big bad world now, and I don’t feel that ready for it. I suppose most people probably feel like this.

N.B. I wrote this ages ago, still a bit apprehensive about the move but it’s not forever, and little things help, like knowing I’ve had enough of this bloody flat and that my room in my Dad’s house is shaping up to be somewhere I’d want to live.

These are real things in the world.

16/04/2010

Recently I’ve been finding more stuff on the internet where I think I’d quite like to share that.

Share #1

First off is a funny one, and possibly an April’s fool given the date it was put up but it’s the Episcopal Church, which is pretty ‘anything goes’ so who knows? (This church has ordained women and gay people in the States for instance).  Basically, Barbie has been ordained people. That’s right! It was the pictures I noticed, thought it was quite amusing. Thanks go to Religion News Service for that one.

Share #2

Since I started using Google Reader I’ve been keeping up with a few feminism blogs. Feminism seems to be a controversial topic (even just amongst friends), as in whether it is a valid viewpoint and whether it is the right viewpoint. Well, I think that while women still earn less on average than men, take on the bulk of the childcare, and abortion remains a taboo that you can’t generally talk about from a personal level and , then yes, feminism is still relevant. While 2 women every week are killed by their partner or former partner, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse and the rape conviction rate remains stupidly low, and women are still often made to think it’s their fault, then yes, feminism is still relevant. And that’s just in the UK, never mind how bad it can be for women abroad. This may not surprise you, but I’m a feminist.

Anyway, I think it was through one of the feminist blogs that I came across the ‘ladies against feminism’, a group of mostly conservative home schooled Christians who are promoting being a woman, i.e being feminine, a homemaker, subordinate to your husband etc. In this particular blog, which is kind of long, I got a bit riled because she actually put ‘Women are not designed to be independent or unprotected.’, and criticised those who teach women to be independent because it will bring emotional baggage into a marriage. *thump, thump, thump* sorry, that’s my head against the table. I’m a feminist for the world, because I think that any woman, anywhere, should be allowed and able to live an independent life as she chooses if that is what she so wishes. It’s not rocket science. The whole thing often quotes bible passages, and she is basically stating her reasons for staying at home while going to college, which seems to be entirely religious and anti-feminism reasons. This struck me as odd anyway, because I know plenty people in the UK stay at home for university, generally for practical financial reasons, they were just attached to home, or the local university is world class anyway, why bother going elsewhere?

As a slight point, I think you can definately be feminine and a feminist, but this means you do get into an argument about what feminine is, because it is a social construct. I’ve got one friend who actually doesn’t like to define their gender, because that doesn’t make them who they are. They are female, but that’s their sex, not gender. She firmly believes she would be the same person were she a man. I’m not entirely sure about that one, but it’s certainly an intriguing concept.

Share #3

People are ignorant about contraception. This is not a revelation to me, I’m not convinced I could say what all 11 types of female contraception are off the top of my head. Yes, that’s right, 11! For men, there are only 2, condoms and the snip. This article, which I think I stumbled upon, shows how men don’t understand their girlfriends contraception. Y’know, I don’t think this is the world’s biggest issue as the girls seem to have their heads screwed on and are using their contraception properly, who cares if the partner doesn’t understand how it works, as long as it does. But still, it might be quite nice if people knew about all the different kinds, and roughly how it works (especially that 2 condoms together will only make the situation worse, not better). Even just with the different kinds of condoms. People constantly pick the same blue ones at work and I keep wanting to say, the yellow ones are the same, or for them to try the black one that says ‘extra’, which isn’t actually larger, it has extra lube, which might be quite nice, I don’t know because I haven’t tried it. Also, I can honestly say that taking the pill has actually liberated me.  All this has been giving me ideas for the future, and this time next week there will be at least one thing determined regarding my future, but I can’t actually say anything about it here just now. Those of you who know me will know what I’m on about, and if you don’t then I’ll try and remember to write something here about it, so that sentence doesn’t remain a mystery.

Anyway, this got long and serious, sorry about that. I have head off cause I have a lot to get sorted for next week, which I’m getting incredibly excited and a bit nervous about. Toodle pip!

Would the world be better without religion?

11/03/2010

I meant to put this up ages ago, but I never got round to finishing it til now.

This question managed to turn up on the facebook poll thing called ‘Your Say’ which I usually ignore because the questions are generally aimed at Americans, but this time I made the mistake of answering it and thus looking at the comments. Some of them were reasonable, people who had a grasp of the fact there are more issues in religion than religion itself, and others that were just idiotic quite frankly.

A sampling of comments, and the answers I would put if I could be bothered.

I said NO right away. If you don’t agree that is your problem, you will be judged by the eternal God of Heaven for your choice. And once you find out that there really is a God and it is too late, you will be wishing you had listened to all the people who tried to turn you away from the world and towards God. And if you DON’T believe it is true, then what is your purpose here on Earth?! If you think that you are right and that there is NO God, then what will it hurt if you believe anyway?! Because one day you WILL be judged and you will be sorry you didn’t listen. If you still don’t listen after this there is not much else to do. I have tried, and my Heavenly Father will reward me for that!

Ahh, the old ‘what have you got to lose by believing?’ argument, well, you can just lose your head, like this woman seems to have.

religion just creates division and war. languages do too

Well, to be honest it’s a hell of a lot more complicated than that. The rough division of the middle east into states that didn’t make that much sense didn’t help matters…and the British are to blame for that.

It would appear that religious countries are often the poorest and uneducated countries.

Ahem…UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! (although it is perhaps a it of an exception to the rule.)

If your religion says you are better or deserve more rewards than another because of the way you believe then yes, the world is better without your religion. If your religion says it is the only way to God then yes, the world is better without your religion. If your religion says it is okay to kill another because they do not believe the way you do then yes, the world is better without your religion. If your religion sets you above another human being then the world is better without your religion. If your religion is uplifting to all human beings then your religion is better for the world. If it doesn’t segregate. If it doesn’t abuse. If it allows all human beings the right to believe any way that they choose then the world is a better place with your religion.

Well, I think all religions have a spectrum starting  from the whole’ we are the only way, we’re better than everyone else’ over to ‘I believe this, he believes something else, that’s okay, in fact that’s pretty cool’. You cannot generalise one religion and say, they ALL believe X. We’re human beings, we all differ in our thoughts. I can’t make out if this person wants religion or not, cause they’re living slightly coo-coo land if they think their perfect situation is going to happen.

I wish there was a choice of ‘irrelevant’ because the question is moot. Human beings will always create some sort of theism to rationalize the mysterious and the vast majority of humans feel the need to believe there is a purpose in their lives, that destiny and fate exist. The idea that there is an order to things gives them comfort. In regards to laws and ‘moral codes,’ many of the laws of God, no matter what religion we are speaking of, originated in small family or tribal communities to maintain order and public safety. Later, these laws were hijacked by local religions and cults.

I quite liked this one, not far from my own way of thinking.

I meant to vote YES for better without religion, because Christianity is not a religion. It is your relationship with God that matters. A world without HIM would not be better!!!

There were numerous ones like this who had voted to say the world would be better without religion because Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship with God. Ahem, can it not be both? Can religion not be a word meaning’ the collective term for people’s relationship with God’? See one of my previous posts for the difficulties in defining ‘religion’.

A general point often made: that religion isn’t the problem, it’s organised religion.

People naturally seek out others who believe in the same thing as them. Hence political parties, scientific endeavour, families, and all manner of other groups. I really don’t think you are going to stop people talking to each other. Organisation is natural.

There wouldn’t be any world without religion!

Nah there would be, it just wouldn’t be anything like this. Religious ideas have brought us to this point today (along with many other ideas).

There was numerous people putting up bible quotes and only those like it was really relevant and made an argument by itself, and then one guy put up this link, which I did have fun with: http://www.jesusdressup.com/.

New Moon: digested

09/02/2010

Bella: It’s my birthday, I don’t want presents…stop giving me presents!

Change me Edward, I don’t care about my soul, change me, please, change me.

On no, I’ve cut my finger, and now my boyfriend is away to Italy, and says he doesn’t want me.

I will now mope in this chair for 3 months. And have screaming nightmares.

Oh, bad guys on motorbikes, let’s go speak to them and get a backie. Oh, I can see Edward when I do these risky things!

Jacob, can you fix these bikes for me? Yeah? Yay, you fixed them, and we’re falling for each other, and you help my nightmares. Oops, hurt my head there, and the blood is obviously fake.

Hey Jacob, come on my date with my school mate.

Jacob: Sure Bella, y’know I’ll never hurt you. Oh I’m getting hot, gotta run.

Bella: I’ve left you millions of messages, where the hell you been, how you get so buff and why have you got a tattoo?

Jacob: Go away, I don’t want to hurt you.

Bella: No.

Jacob: Oh, bugger, I’m a werewolf, and so are all my brothers. We run around everywhere with no top on and cut off trousers. We’re trying to kill that vampire that’s after you.

Big chase scene, involving the vampire, werewolves, police and bella, who cliff dives into what I would imagine is bloody cold water. Gets rescued by Jacob.

Jacob: Bella, go out with me.

Bella: Umm….

Jacob: I can smell a vampire. Grrr.

Alice (Edward’s sister): Bella! You’re alive, how? No, we haven’t heard from Edward really.

Wait, Edward thinks you’re dead, he’s going to kill himself! We better go to Italy, really super quick.

Bella: Edward, don’t kill yourself, I’m alive!

Edward: Actually I want you. Come meet the vampire royal family. We all have powers.

Oh look, Bella is resistant to all their powers, how odd.

Vampire king: Edward, she knows too much, change or kill her soon (Inside Bella’s head: YESSS!)

Edward: I don’t want to change you.

Bella: Let’s put it to a vote. Look, your family all want me! Change me, change me!

Jacob (out of nowhere): No, don’t you dare change her!

Bella: Jacob, I love you, but I love him more.

Edward: Okay, I’ll change you…if you marry me.

That all took 2 hours…….. The first twilight was alright, this was just silly, the constant drooling over Bella by at least 3 different guys when she is just really annoying and needs a good slap. Quite probably the worst protagonist ever.

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