How I discovered that being evicted can happen to anyone
Undoubtedly one of the biggest events to happen to me, my life and my business in the last 2 months has been my upcoming eviction from my Central London apartment. As such, I felt it deserved a special series of short blogs exploring this event. This is the first in that series where I explore why this happened, what it means for me and my business and how I am trying to overcome the challenge
It was a Monday afternoon and I was in the middle of running a virtual workshop for a client when I heard the familiar clunk and thud of a letter being pushed through my letterbox.
“That’s strange,” I thought, “the post already arrived earlier.”
Waiting for the coffee break during the workshop, I went to pick up the pristine A4 envelope now sitting on the wooden floor in my flat.
On the front of the envelope, all it had was my name written in blue biro; no address, no stamp. It had obviously been hand delivered.
Ripping it open, I found a letter dated that day addressed to me. It was a notice of eviction; my landlord had activated the minimum 2 months notice period and this was their letter informing me as was legally required.
I immediately messaged my estate agent to ask if this was a mistake:
“Unfortunately not,” she told me, “The landlord told me to do this today.”
This was less than ideal
The whole exchange took me completely by surprise. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t expecting it, it was the fact that 6 months earlier I had reached out to my landlord to inquire about extending my lease as I was enjoying living in the property. Our discussions had been amicable and I thought we were close to reaching an agreement.
Admittedly, over that 6 months, the landlord had been slow to respond to my messages (all conducted through the estate agent, usually taking 3–4 weeks to get a response each time) and a couple of small issues had begun to occur in the flat which I had raised (such as a broken fridge that took ages to be replaced and a rogue energy bill that I had asked for a contribution to) but still I never expected that we weren’t going to extend the lease.
The timing couldn’t have been worse; not only was I not anticipating the eviction but I had just finalised some work commitments that meant over the next 2 months I would be travelling for about half of it so having to kick off a flat search would be tricky.
I wasn’t prepared for the London rental market I was about to enter
2 years before when I had moved into my current flat, the market had been quite different. It was still the middle of Covid (in fact London was just coming out of it’s 3rd Lockdown), people hadn’t returned to the city centre as yet and so it was a renters’ market.
Landlords were desperate to get good tenants into their properties and so, as a single (slightly older) person who ran their own business, I was able to negotiate an amazing deal on my fantastic central London apartment on a 2 year deal.
Fast forward to early 2023 and competition was fierce for places as more tenants were suddenly in the market (not just because of the return-to-the -office but also because of the cost-of-living crisis meaning that more people couldn’t afford to buy or couldn’t rent what they had previously rented and were competing down the chain). Alongside this there were less properties to rent as rising interest rates had forced many landlords to sell their properties.
Combine this dual hit of increased demand with reduced supply and the inevitable happened: rents went skyrocketing. The price per square foot was almost double what I had paid almost 2 years ago so I would either have to accept paying double or getting something half the size if I kept my budget the same.
There was an added complication
This was not the only problem: because of the market dynamics, properties were being snapped up before they even came to market.
We have the perverse situation where if you can’t go and view on the day of release then you don’t have a hope. Many people often resorted to just renting without actually seeing the place in person.
If you did manage to see a place you liked then you were expected to put in an offer that day and were encouraged to get in a competitive auction to outbid other prospective renters.
Pretty much every flat was going above asking price, leaving about 10–15 disappointed renters who had missed out.
It was into this rental market that I stepped out woefully unprepared….
Join me in my next blog of this series where I explore how flat hunting is like a strategy project
Faris is the CEO and Founder of Shiageto Consulting, an innovative consultancy that helps firms and individuals sharpen their effectiveness.
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