What I Rent is a weekly series that takes you inside people’s homes, to get a realistic look at the world of renting.
Last week we were in Liverpool with Lauren, who pays £440 a month for a four-bedroom house.
This time we’re back in London – Leyton, specifically.
Aniqa, 38, is a senior lecturer in initial teacher education. She’s also a writer, and has discovered a love for DIY and home decor, now sharing how she decorates on a budget on her Instagram, Aniqas_attic.
Aniqa has lived in East London on and off for her entire life, and is back there in a two-bedroom house on the border of Leyton and Stratford, along with her husband and their two-year-old daughter.
Here’s what she rents.
Hey, Aniqa! how much do you pay to live here?
We currently pay per month £1,500 for rent, £130 for council tax, and about £70 for gas and electricity.
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And what do you get for what you pay?
We have two bedrooms, one downstairs bathroom, a living room, a large kitchen, which has enough space for a dining area too and a garage.
There is also built-in storage under the stairs, in one of the bedrooms, and two storage cupboards built outside the bathroom – one which has the boiler in it and shelving for toiletries etc, and another which has a washing machine and a dryer.
Do you feel like you have a good deal?
Compared to other rental properties we were searching for during 2020, this is a brilliant deal, especially as the rooms are all open and spacious.
We also get a lot of sunlight in all the rooms, aren’t overlooked, and have quiet neighbours, which makes this feel like a lovely street to live in.
The property was unfurnished, but came with a new fridge freezer, dishwasher, cooker, washing machine and a dryer.
How did you find the house?
We found this property on Rightmove, but had been searching for almost a year because of lockdown.
Whereabouts is your home based? What do you think of the area?
We are currently based on the border between Leyton and Stratford, and are in love with the mix of both quiet residential life in the streets surrounding us, but also the busier life off the High Road.
My husband was new to the area, having lived in Walthamstow for a short time, and then moving towards Hackney and Stamford Hill, but once we got married it didn’t take much to convince him to move to Leyton!
Having initially relocated here when I was just 12, I have seen the place develop over the years, and the addition of the Leyton Mills retail park, and subsequently the redevelopment before the 2012 Olympics, has meant that this area has improved significantly.
We also have the added bonus of being on the central line while also having access to the many transport links from Stratford Station, too.
How have you made this place feel like home?
Before we moved in, we had already decided that we would change the carpets, and we needed to buy furniture for one of the bedrooms as we were moving from a one-bed to a two-bed home.
At the same time, I set up my Instagram account and came across some home DIYers and renters, who shared so many ways of adding your own personal touch to a rented home, that I began to plan how each room would come together.
My only brief was ‘add colour’, because the previous flat was too dark and the colours I saw in peoples homes brought me so much joy.
My first coloured purchase was our teal blue velvet bed from Next, and then from there onwards I started experimenting with adding colour and pattern to each room.
I have kept the walls white, but added pictures and frames to add colour there too, once I learned about command strips!
I have also since carried out my own DIY projects, and updated our oak wood dining table by painting it and reupholstering the chairs, made a bench seat for my bedroom, and have upcycled the dark furniture in the second bedroom by using vinyl wallpaper.
There is still a lot more I want to do in terms of adding more colour and DIY projects, and the little one is always more than happy to help too, so I’m always looking for inspiration online and for affordable ways to make the house a home.
Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?
Our landlady has been wonderful ever since we moved in. We initially asked the agent on the day of our viewing whether the landlady would be okay with us changing the carpets upstairs, and the floor downstairs, and she agreed, with the wooden floor in the living room being the only exception.
Since then, we have always emailed the landlady for permission to update any part of the house, for example when I updated the kitchen worktops with vinyl paper, had to drill larger holes in the kitchen cabinets to put on new handles, update the bathroom tiles with self-adhesive vinyl and update and add wallpaper to the under-stair storage.
I also have permission to paint, add shelving, hang curtains, paint the fences and gate, but we just haven’t got around to that part yet!
Do you feel like you have enough space?
We currently have more than enough space, especially because there is a lot of storage space, and there is the garage/room at the end of the garden too.
We were also conscious of the fact that the little one loves to play and run around a lot, so we were glad that the living room and kitchen were both large enough for her to play in, but also for us to join her in her games. She does ride her scooter through both rooms too, and she’s always kicking her football around, too.
We are also so grateful for the garden space, as even during the winter she would happily come out to the garden to play, and now with the sunnier days ahead we are so appreciative that we are close to the parks too.
Our reason for wanting a second bedroom was so that part of it could be used as a home office, especially as I have the flexibility to work from home and the university.
We were lucky that both bedrooms were very large and well proportioned, and once we had moved in we saw that the home office corner didn’t end up taking too much of the space in the second bedroom anyway.
Are there any problems with the home you have to deal with?
The only issue we have had has been with the boiler a couple of times, but the agents and the landlady have been quick at fixing and updating the parts as needed. Apart from that, we haven’t had any other issues to deal with.
Do you have plans to move again any time soon?
We have moved twice in the last year and a half, and are in no rush to move again. We had a house purchase fall through at the last minute, three days before the Christmas closure in 2019, and so needed anything to rent as we had signed out of our one-bedroom flat at the time.
We then found a house conversion, and moved straight into that, but within about a month found that the place was infested with mice, rising damp appeared in every room (it seems the landlord had painted over the issues prior to putting it on the market), and there were problems with water, heating, and the windows and doors too.
We offered to sort out a lot of the issues ourselves, but the agents and landlord wouldn’t agree, and just said that this was what old Victorian houses in London were like.
Moving into this property has been such a relief, so, unless the prices around us dropped significantly and we could get something the same size in this area at a cheaper price, we are not currently looking to move again anytime soon.
This place is near my work, not too far from the station, and is also close to both the Olympic Parks and Drapers Field. My parents also live nearby, and the day we moved in we found out that our neighbours are actually my mum’s friend and her family, so that has been a positive bonus for us!
Do you want to own a place some day or are you happy to rent?
We would love to own our own place some day, and unfortunately have had three purchases fall through in the last six years.
For now we are not willing to compromise on the area, so we know that the search for our first bought home will probably take a bit longer.
That’s okay as we are more than happy to continue renting for the next few years or so.
Shall we take 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!).
This article contains placements with affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links on these placements.
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