Comment: the housing crisis has killed love
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Too close for comfort: eye wateringly small studios like those planned for Barnet House will breed nothing but contempt
Another day, another depressing press release lands in my inbox examining the housing crisis through the lens of the permanently broke and often single.
Three in five tenants find it easier to get a date than find a suitable f latmate, according to a survey by flatmate matchmaking service Ideal Flatmate.
Frankly, I’m surprised it wasn’t a full five out of five. Finding a date in London is easy. The ubiquity of dating apps means it’s a doddle to find someone who will be forced to listen to you talk about your idea for a novel / interesting rock collection / favourite conspiracy theory over overpriced cocktails in a Soho gin bar you chose because it sounded fancy and you’re hoping they’ll pay.
Finding a f latmate is clearly a task that requires a much more stringent vetting process. A date only has to see you for three or four hours, when you’ve (hopefully) had time to do your hair and put on clean clothes. A flatemate has to put up with you stumbling around in your underwear, hungover and in the pursuit of caffeine and carbs. A look I like to save until at least the third date.
I’ve had f latmate interviews where I’ve been subject to a full interrogation, or asked to compete in a series of tasks pitting me against another houseshare hopeful, Hunger Games style.
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I never tire of telling people how I found my current housemates. In a meet cute worthy of any romcom, I met them in a pub and my pint-downing skills impressed them so much they asked me to move in on the spot.
To be fair, I’ve had first dates where I’ve impressed with my ability to drink quickly, so at least my playbook is consistent.
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I don’t know if it says more about London’s dire housing situation or its dating economy that these press releases keep on coming. I expect an email blast any day now announcing a hybrid of Zoopla and Tinder.
Swipe right for bachelor number three and his two bedroom duplex in Belsize Park! Don’t mind the fact that he communicates solely in aubergine emojis, think of that prime property!
Not that I’m against taking the mercenary approach. The journalist Esther Walker is utterly honest about the fact she married fellow hack Giles Coren for his five bedroom home in north London. #RelationshipGoals.
If I’m honest though, the idea of cohabiting with a romantic partner out of necessity rather than desire fills me with horror, and never more so than with schemes like Barnet House.
Plans submitted for the former council offices reveal that 96 per cent of the 254 flats, will be tinier than 37 sq mt, the national minimum space standard.
The designs by HKR Architects, for the building’s leaseholder Meadow Partnership are entirely legal, thanks to the deregulation of converting empty offices into homes, in order to meet government set housebuilding targets.
If you and your beloved were to buy one of these f lats, you would essentially be signing up to cohabit in a space not much larger than your average prison cell. I know you might look at your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other and be filled with a warm glow at the thought of having a micro apartment to call your own, but nothing will murder your love faster than moving in to one of these glorified rabbit hutches.
I am not someone who cultivates pet peeves, but there are non negotiable deal breakers when it comes to sharing space with someone I let kiss me on the mouth, with tongues.
The one thing guaranteed to fill me with white hot rage is someone flopping down on a bed I have just made. I don’t care if you do it in a cute way, or even a come hither way. Muss up my freshly fluffed and straightened duvet and I completely lose it.
Examination of the Barnet House plans reveals there is no space to put a sofa, making the bed is the only option for sitting. The moment my beaux rumpled some recently smoothed sheets the relationship would be over.
In all seriousness, the fact these tiny homes made of actual old office cubicles are the best we can come up with in response to a crushing housing shortage is more depressing than my love life. Love is dead, and it’s the housing crisis that killed it.