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School Run(In)

Letting agents with ideas above their station (floating below pond life – lower even than the slime at the bottom of the pond) have appropriated terminology from their fellow gargoyles – estate agents. Both speak a language known to earth people as ‘bollocks’ and an advert that might once have read: “Flat. One room. Furnished. Rent £450 pcm. On Street,” now reads: “Well appointed bijou residence with friendly, self-annointed drainers and front-loading entrance. Stylish splash-guards permeate widespread pavemented zone enjoying luxurious police presence and accessible chemical delivery operatives.”

Another selling point mentioned in rental-ads is a tempting variation on this: “Close to excellent school.” Here’s why. Many parents aspire to live next to the excellent St Misfits (Ofsted report: “Urchins walk in about as smart as one of Kasabian, but emerge as clever as Stephen Hawking.) This encourages parents to use the wily guiles of leaden-hearted politicians to ensure that little Bastard gets to a good school, where they will be taught to read poetry, and not how to write graffiti about gangs and crack on the walls of their own home.

Does anybody question why a family of three would live in a bedsit or even a studio flat described as: “Economically spaced – ideal for the smaller sized.” Or that they never seem to visit? But then, I’ve heard of families making an extravagant show of visiting their ‘home,’ you know – walking a dog, being seen coming and going (and then going again) with the big weekly shop, and sitting in the lounge etc.

Being in the same area as a good school ups the price of property, be it rented or owned. Admittedly, some naughty people have been caught in the act by vigilant councils using spies for covert surveillance, but many still get away with it. Remember the days when children walked to a local school, and if it wasn’t very good, or failing, then parents would unite to improve it, rather than organise a mass escape?

A friend is currently subsisting on a low income, and sensibly rents a home within her meagre budget, all the while gazing longingly at glowing Ofsted-approved schools on the other side of town, where you have to be affluent, if not actually loaded with bling to afford a home, rented or otherwise. She really wants to move, but can only afford a tiny one-bed flat with no garden – not much for her growing lad. Another friend stayed in a rented home next to the failing local school, and did her best to improve things via the PTA. She helped her child with homework, and eventually paid for a private tutor. Then she gave up entirely and moved (admittedly, being a tenant made this easier.)

Houses in the catchment areas of little genius factories are rocketing in price, and price tags on accommodation close to finishing schools for the prison system are plummeting. Wealthy articulate people will always subvert a system, even when obliged to ‘lower’ themselves to renting property to do so, and there’s no guarantee of a place. Even worse, they will join on this frantic, whirling, danse macabre of renting hell (albeit briefly…)


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