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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Katie Strick

OPINION - Frogs are literally falling into my flat, why must Londoners put up with renting hell?

No offence to my current flatmates, but when I used to picture my life at 30 it wasn’t living with two 25-year-olds in a cold basement flat where we’re too afraid to open the windows because it’s raining cats and frogs.

No, that’s not a typo. Thanks to my upstairs neighbours’ pond, there are adult frogs and, as of recent weeks, their little offspring are quite literally falling in through our skylights. First-world-leafy-south-west-London problems, you might say, but you try emptying your trainer to find that pebble is actually the carcass of a poor baby frog.

My strange amphibious invasion might be an unusual one for London renters but our landlord’s casual response towards the whole thing (would she still find it “cute” if they were rats?) certainly feels like a sign of the tragic stage we’ve got to here on the capital’s renting frontline.

While several friends are rapidly approaching their second rung on the property ladder (don’t go to Durham University if you want to feel good about your salary), stories of rat-infested kitchens, guerrilla room-finding tactics (yes, SpareRoom dating is apparently a thing now) and £1,000-a-month price hikes are exchanged among my fellow renters like they are a normal part of life in the capital — and we’re the ones lucky enough to afford to live here in the first place. Recent months have seen friends priced out of Brixton and Shoreditch for the likes of Brighton and Somerset, and a SpareRoomer from Kent actually cried at our latest set of flat viewings. “You’re the first people to get back to me in four months,” she told us weepily at the door.

Rejecting said SpareRoomer and her fellow queue of unsuccessful candidates might have felt like a strange series of micro-break-ups (one still messages once a week), but it was an important lesson in gratitude. Frog-ageddon it might be in our flat, but we’re the lucky ones in this sorry tale: we have landlords who (mostly) listen, a boiler that actually works and rent that hasn’t gone up in two years (I’m gambling on them not reading this). I might not be able to see the horizon from my bedroom (”hey Google, what’s the weather doing right now?”), but a scroll through SpareRoom tells me that’s a small price to pay to be safe from the hellscape that is trying to find a room in our crazy capital.

Yet somehow we Londoners continue to put up with all of this. Sure, leaving our windows closed might help us to save on our heating bills this spring, but I can’t help but feel that unwonted amphibians are a rather sorry indictment of a renting market that has gone a little, well, hopping mad.

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