What I Rent: Florence and Ben, £1,350 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Herne Hill, London

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  • August 11, 2020
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Our weekly series What I Rent aims to take a look at the reality of renting and how people turn rented flats and houses into their homes.

Each week we take you inside a different rented property and chat to the tenants about their experiences.

Today we’re hanging out with primary school teacher Florence, 29, her husband Ben, and their two cats, Hazel and Maple.

They live in a one-bedroom flat in Herne Hill, south east London, and we chatted with Florence to find out what that’s like.

Hey, Florence! How much do you and Ben pay to live here?

We pay £1,350 in rent and then about another £300 in bills, including council tax and a really good sustainable energy company called Ecotricity we moved over to last year.

And what do you get for what you pay?

We have one quite large open plan reception room, a bedroom and a bathroom. We also have a cellar and a little courtyard.

Do you think you have a good deal?

We think so! The rooms are big and spacious, we have outside space and our own front door.

Also, we love the area so much, it’s so great for travel, really near a station, near Brockwell Park and has lots of lovely places to go!

How did you find this property?

When we were looking for a home in London, we saw a really similar property advertised just up the road but we couldn’t move until the summer and it was available right away. We emailed the letting agent to say we were really interested and if it was still available in the few months we would love to have it.

About a week later, they messaged us about another similar place that was available from the end of July! It was like fate and we saw it and agreed to take it the next day.

How have you made the flat feel like home?

Honestly, getting the cats was a huge part of making it feel like home, they have their own little house/box in the corner and their own water fountain. They give the place a lot of life and joy, especially when they climb the curtains!

Also, we try to make sure everything we choose to decorate has some kind of meaning: we have maps of the local area as a table or on the wall; we have all of our books out on display because we love reading and we have prints of our favourite things, like books we love, cartoons we find funny or things we are interested in up on the walls.

Most of our furniture has a story behind it too, like the bureau we found in the charity shop before we got married for £20 or the reading bench we LOVED but thought we could never justify spending a lot of money on, which we then miraculously managed to buy with a refund from Thameslink rail!

We keep lots of photos of friends and family, lots of candles to make things feel cosy and Ben is growing lots of herbs and chillis in our little courtyard.

Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting?

Our landlord is fantastic. We are nervous of some things, like hanging some pretty brass frames we have got above our bed incase we do it wrong and they fall!

We also thought about painting it near the beginning but the ceilings are so high we decided to try and just lean into the whole cream walls thing!

Do you feel like you have enough space?

At the moment yes,. Although, I definitely dream of the cats having a grassy garden to play in and maybe having another bedroom one day.

The absolute dream would be to convert the cellar space into a workable second bedroom or something, but that would be huge and probably not possible!

Are there any problems with the home you have to deal with?

Not really. We would love to be able to utilise the cellar space more but it’s too damp, apart from that we have been so lucky with our first place in London.

Do you have plans to move again any time soon?

At some point we will probably have to move for more space but we are reluctant and want to stay here as long as we possibly can.

Do you want to own a place some day or are you happy to rent?

Further in the future, we would like to have our own place but we both agree that we don’t want to live for years saving, scrimping and not enjoying our first years of marriage just to be able to own a property as soon as possible.

We have had a really good experience of renting and so buying is a goal for a few years time at the moment.

Fair play. Shall we have a look around?

What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am.

Check back next week to have another nose around a rented property.

How to get involved in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what’s normal and how much we should be paying.

If you fancy taking part, please email [email protected]. You’ll need to take pictures of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your bedroom or living area.

Make sure you get permission from your housemates! You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.

We’re not just after the prettiest places out there, by the way. We want the reality of renting, so if you’re currently renting a place you hate, we’d love to see that too (and sympathise greatly!).

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