The first was Flat 7, a very similar Flat 7 from the original, in that it was up top in an enormous converted Victorian terrace, and on the same street. It had been cut in half though, with the other half made into a Flat 8. It was a box. A very clean and polished box with a cooker in the corner and a small window onto City Skyline Views, but a box nonetheless. There were two shared bathrooms and a “communal area”. The rent was well over $200/week.
Flat 1 was on the ground floor of an old terrace a few streets over. The terrace appeared to be owned by the eighty-something woman who lived next door and spent a lot of time obsessing over the leaves out front. The flat was a very large room with some grimy furniture, a cooker, and garish yellow carpet. The other dwellings in the terrace were, I think, boarding house rooms; a couple were apparently occupied by several frail aged people living on their own and sharing a bathroom, which the putative landlady stressed was “very clean.” The real estate agent managing the tenancy, a man of maybe 22, enthused about is convenient location (is this a thing in real estate agencies – you get to manage a few dives, learn how to call them Cosy Convenient Studios and then move up into Actual Studios?). By this time the soupy odour that rather screams “aged ‘care’ home” had overtaken my brain so I backed out the door as the agent handed me a rental application form. Rent per week was also over $200.
Flat 19 was in a formerly palatial property, sprawled across an overgrown block about a ten-minute walk from a local waterway. It consisted of another large room with portable cooker in the corner and a shared bathroom. Rent per week? You guessed it. The tenant-lodgers milling around seemed younger than those around Flat 1, student types perhaps; though the place had a similar air of internalised isolation.
Flat 3 is out back of a boarding house and will constitute something of an experiment in microliving. The real estate agent, thrilled at the opportunity given to them by the owner to lease the dwelling, twitched slightly as he assured me there were “no junkies” living there. As the building’s sole tenant, I will have a private entrance.
I paid a “holding fee” – one week’s rent, somewhat less than $300 – by money order at the agency. Reading the receipt as I stepped onto the bus to be ferried back to the inner west, I realised my new mediators are auspiced by a certain property group.