Diary of a London lettings agent

Instead of letting the light flood in, one wealthy French collector calls for darkened rooms to protect her art.
In our Clapham office, the week starts with a call from a relocation agent with yet another client who works for Google. Relocation agents used to deal mainly with bankers, but currently it’s employees of Google or Facebook.

Today’s agent is asking about The Old Printworks, an amazing five-bedroom house in SW4 that belongs to a film director and is on the rental market for £1,400 a week. It’s designed to look like an Ibiza nightclub and the Google client is wowed by the gold ceilings in the bathrooms and a kitchen set up to resemble a trendy bar —perfect for media types. 

We are dealing with eight duplex penthouses at Metropolitan Wharf in Wapping, five of which have already been let for the asking prices of up to £3,500 per week. They were designed by Tom Dixon and have a unique industrial look, with huge open spaces and features including fireplaces suspended from the ceiling, brass and steel Boffi kitchens and special heat-retaining lava tiles from Mount Etna.

These unusual spaces are perfect for bankers, or for directors from the fashion, media and tech industries, and they bring a new level of interior design to London rental properties. 

A wealthy French art collector calls this morning to say she would like to rent one, as the wall space is perfect to display her art collection. She specifically requests that special blinds are installed to darken the rooms to protect her art — somewhat ironic, as these penthouses were designed to let the light flood in. 

Our Tower Bridge office is one of our busiest for rentals at the moment, along with the Islington and Wapping branches. A new development in Bear Lane, next to Tate Modern, is so popular that a negotiator is blocking out two hours every day to do mass viewings of the nine apartments there, which are priced from £425 to £650 a week. The developer had intended to sell the flats but decided to hand over all nine to us for rental instead. It has turned out to be a good move, because half of them rented out within the first week, before the building was even finished. They are just what the South Bank market wants — clean, brand-new, high quality and with showroom-style kitchens and bathrooms. 

I am off to a launch this evening of a building in Sloane Street which property company Cadogan Estates, a client of ours, has redeveloped.
Cadogan has collaborated with the “design bible” Wallpaper* to create a pop-up apartment showcasing the ultimate in modern, stylish London living. 

Instead of the safe, blank-canvas neutral décor which rental properties often have, they have played with strong colours in one of the apartments. These are hues which  no one is usually brave enough to entertain, but everyone at the launch is thrilled at the sight of navy blue and burnt sienna on the walls. It’s so refreshing — perhaps not for everyone, but a taste of things to come, I think.

This morning starts with a seminar with one of the main property portals. We find out that they have played secret squirrel and sent fake enquiries to all lettings agents to see who replies first and most thoroughly, and we are the winners. Sally from our newest office in Blackheath beats all our rival agents. 

We also enjoy the swanky breakfast and can’t help wondering if it is an attempt to butter us up in light of the forthcoming launch of a new property portal.

Zoe innes is head of residential lettings at Cluttons (020 3641 0517)

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