As I arrive for work there is a real buzz of autumnal activity in the air. The phones are ringing constantly and we receive three offers on renting a three-bedroom maisonette with a spectacular roof terrace in Ladbroke Gardens. I’m not surprised as it’s on one of the most sought-after streets in Notting Hill and comes with access to a beautiful communal garden. We ask all parties to put forward their best and final offers by 5pm. We hit the deadline.
Both negotiators are on the edge of their seats, keen to know who has submitted the best offer. They are all very close in price; however, one party offers to take the property for two years, which clinches the deal. The landlord is thrilled — they have never rented out a property before and are pleasantly surprised at how stress-free the process has been.
A lady walks into our office after noticing that we are advertising in our window a large house in Holland Park for £10,000 a week. It grabbed her attention because she is currently renovating a similar property and would like to know how much she could rent it out for. After discussing her plans for the house, it transpires that her property is much larger than the one we currently have. I give her a rough estimate of how much I think it would be worth and she agrees to get back in touch in about six months’ time, when building works should be nearly complete.
I receive a call first thing from a relocation agent. They have a client from the US with a big budget who is looking for a house in Holland Park with a minimum size of 7,000 sq ft. Immediately the lady who came into the office yesterday pops into my head. I give her a call and she tells me that I am crazy to think someone will rent a property that is currently just bricks and mortar but agrees to a viewing.
Later that day, we slowly make our way around the vast property. Wearing high heels on a building site is totally inappropriate, especially when walking across a narrow wooden plank from one room to the next where the floor is missing. I’m pleased to see the client seems undaunted. It becomes clear that they have a great imagination and can recognise the house’s potential when they declare: “I’ll take it!”
In a market where there is very little stock available at the high end, it is quite often the case that houses of this calibre will be rented off-market. But I can’t say I’ve ever rented one six months before it is due to be finished. I update the landlord, who is completely stunned. Not such a crazy proposal of mine after all…
I make my way to my first appointment — a viewing with a lovely couple in their 60s who are “empty nesters”. They have decided to sell their family house in Notting Hill to spend more time in their Cotswolds home, but after 30 years in west London they have decided that they can’t leave the city altogether, so would like to rent a two-bedroom property in the area. I show them around a pretty mews house in Ladbroke Mews. They love its large garden but feel the rooms are a little too small. It’s a common theme for people who are downsizing and we arrange to look at some more options next week.
Everyone in the office has that Friday feeling. After a successful week we decide that it is only right that we reward ourselves with lunch at Pizza East — a firm favourite. Then my mobile rings — it’s a call from a contact of mine in the film industry. They have an A-list male celebrity who needs to rent a four-bedroom house. It just so happens that we have one that I think fits the bill, so we book in a viewing straight away. They are unable to reveal who their client is but my mind is going into overdrive. Am I finally going to meet... Johnny Depp?!
I immediately cancel my lunch plans for pizza; I need to be looking super-slim for this encounter. I arrive at the house early, and just as I am turning on the lights the doorbell rings. I take a deep breath to compose myself, the door opens and I desperately try to hide my disappointment when it’s not Johnny waiting on the step. But the viewing goes well and they are keen to take a second look next week. Right now I don’t need to be super-slim any more — back to the pizza.
- Emilie Beard is an associate partner and head of Notting Hill lettings for Strutt & Parker (020 7221 1111)