How are people still falling for the fake hysteria about renting in London?

Of course nobody’s going to rent a tent in a living room


Don’t listen to Richard Dawkins or Brendan O’Neill: there really are people out there who deserve no-platforming. Who are these unrepentant, gratuitously hurtful people? They’re the hyperventilating bores writing about the wacky side of London’s protection racket of a rental market: the mattresses in sheds, the tents in the living rooms, the sleeping bags under the stairs.

The capital – for the benefit of anyone still living in 1987 or clinging to teenage fantasies of owning property inside the M25 – is now a sad city of precarious renters, and unhappy renters at that. A proper room in a proper flatshare will likely cost you upwards of £600 a month, which, according to the Guardian, is substantially more than you’d pay a month for a whole house somewhere in North Lanarkshire or County Antrim.

A savage indictment of late period capitalism? Boris fiddling while London burns? Time for another 800 word farewell dirge from a museli mum en route to Brighton? Erm, no, not really. The reason our landlords are more Norman Bates than Alfie Moon is because so many people are desperate to live here – and nobody with pretensions to some degree of adulthood can claim legitimate surprise that London’s born-again slum oligarchs are willing to exploit it.

Believe it or not, people aren't this desperate

Believe it or not, people aren’t this desperate

Everyone, even the docile would-be tenants strung along by the sleep-under-the-sink ruses, is in on it: happy-go-lucky Joe Peduzzi, who went to view the bed in a shed in Bethnal Green, said he “laughed all the way to the tube” after his brief stint staring into the rental abyss. But try telling that to the click-farmers who rise to Shit London bait every time it’s dangled as a PR stunt by some ham-faced social media executive at a letting agency.

Three months ago, some men old enough to have once downloaded porn via a dial-up connection gave a big old kick to the gut of the starving, comatose husk of what was once satire, advertising a £550-a-month berth in a tent in their living room. About as newsworthy as the jokes in your Whatsapp group, and still less interesting. Unsurprising, then, that a LadBible article about it racked up almost 9,000 shares.

With the skill of someone whose only experience of the English language is Russell Howard moralising to camera, they write: “If there’s one thing that highlights the absurdity of housing prices in the capital then this is surely it. WHAT A F*CKING DEAL!! I just wish I worked my ass off in London so I could earn enough to live in a tent in someone’s front room like some sort of fully grown human house cat.”

Views like this will cost you. Lots

Views like this will cost you. Lots

Sorry, lads, but if there’s one thing that highlights the absurdity of housing prices in the capital then this isn’t it. Report after report after report on fake listing after fake listing after fake listing isn’t the same as engaging with the very real issue of the cost of living in London, but the exact opposite. All it does is provide another excuse for those so lazy they use London as a catch-all shortcut for “bad” to keep on hating the city that makes their lives interesting.

In the media circus which pops up every time another ridiculous obviously-fake rental situation appears online, there’s no effort anymore, no attempt to answer any questions or tackle some of the wider (more genuine) problems our city faces. Instead, sites like the LadBible and even national newspapers are happy to join a sleepless procession of redrafted whining travelling in ever decreasing circles towards a Twitter beef with itself. But don’t worry – there’s a tent in somebody’s front room they can stop at on the way.