Surveillance cameras, kitchen-cupboard toilets and unscrupulous landlords: for millennials looking for affordable rents in the UK’s cities, farcical living conditions are becoming the norm

It’s New Year’s Eve. My flatmate and I are standing at the foot of Alexandra Palace in north London, waiting for the fireworks about to illuminate the capital. We are looking forward to a cheerful night, until we both receive a text from our landlord telling us our flat is being sold and we have a month to find new accommodation. I’ve had better starts to the new year.

That was only the beginning of the drama that would unfold over January. As well as being put out by the abrupt, poorly timed and not-exactly-legitimate eviction text, my flatmates and I then found out that our “landlord” was merely a tenant subletting the rooms in our Islington high-rise to the rest of us. Before we left he threatened to withhold our deposits if we didn’t remove the mould – which had been there when we moved in – from the walls. We argued this was a structural problem and presumably one of the reasons why the real owner wanted to refurbish the place before they sold it. After much wrangling – and scrubbing – we managed to leave with most of our deposits intact.

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