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HMOs and Emojis

We have a new housemate.

Unlike on TV where when one housemate is leaving, the others group up, advertise and perform interviews for a prospective new roomie in a montage of scenes to a soundtrack of funky cheesy music, unfortunately in our house there was none of that.

I heard his name as something sounding like “Emoji”

The housemate moving out, left in a flash and took on the first person to respond to the ad he’d put up on Gumtree. The rest of us didn’t even get to meet our new housemate until a few days after he’d moved in!  The night I met him, I’d just awoken from a nap (my new Epilepsy meds make me a little drowsy at times); it was just after 10pm on a Monday night and this dude comes bopping into the kitchen in a suit, introducing himself – quite abruptly and so I heard his name as something sounding like “Emoji” but of course it can’t be “Emoji”…. Surely not, and having already asked him to repeat his name, the embarrassed Britishness within me refused to ask him to say it again. Anyway, he was only making conversation to find out what the password for the WIFI was. After that I didn’t see him again for over a week.

Other than the new guy, there’s three of us in the house. We’re quite a sociable house; we like to hang out and watch offensive comedy, ponder over religion and philosophy over a few beers after a long week at work and laugh to the point of tears and stomach cramps as we listen to our housemate’s girlfriend loudly informing us how amazing her boyfriend is in bed. After a year of privately renting in London, and finding this place last August, I definitely know how rare this is to find – especially in London – a second family, and most importantly, a home.

With this new guy moving in, the balance is all wrong: there’s a weird tension in the house. You walk past his room and you can hear music and movements but when you don’t see the guy who actually lives in the room it all feels like the premise for a low budget horror film with the psycho housemate.

You’ll be thinking now that I’m a judgemental bitch; “what’s wrong with keeping yourself to yourself?” you’re thinking. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that – I can be the most anti-social bitch when I want to be. However, this guy also smokes in the house and didn’t clean up after himself until I had to post a letter of ‘House Rules’ under his door (every time he used the shower you needed wellies to go to the toilet! Gosh! On top of those skylight problems as well LOL).

Furthermore, last Sunday, lazing on the sofa watching Four In A Bed, I was approached by a stranger in my living room asking me for the WIFI password (remember I just said that I was in my LIVING ROOM). At first I thought that I’d forgotten what the new housemate looked like because I hadn’t seen him in so long after only meeting him once. It turned out this random stranger was a friend of our new housemate’s, who had just flown in from Pakistan and was crashing over until his own room in another house was ready. Justifiably outraged I demanded to speak to “Emoji” on the phone to inform him that this was not acceptable. Luckily at the time my boyfriend had been in the house with me, which meant that I wasn’t alone in the house with somebody I didn’t know.

A business function and not homes at all

And that’s what the majority of privately renting in London is: a load of randoms thrown together for the sake of money. Many of the houses I saw last summer before finding my current abode were isolated HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupation) – just a business function and not homes at all – with rooms split into three bedrooms with a sink and a fridge in the corner claiming to be studio flats. These houses have no function for which you can interact with the people you live with. That was never what I wanted when I moved to London, regardless of people telling me of this being the “standard expectations of privately renting in London”.

Luckily my homies feel the same and so there may be a mutiny in the house as we battle for our home back. It may be a s***hole (scaffolding’s still up as building work as mysteriously ground to a halt, and Barry’s still loud and proud) but it’s OUR HOME.

Perhaps we’ll finally get our cheesy interviewing new housemates montage too! I will of course, keep you all posted!


Note: This piece was recently rejected from HuffPostUK as being unsuitable 😦 Loved or hated it? Please let me know your thoughts!!!! Thanks! xoxo


I’m Cece Alexandra and I have Epilepsy. Since being diagnosed, my life has changed significantly. After studying and teaching Humanities and Literature for all of my adult life, I was bullied and lost my job a month before qualifying to become an English Teacher. Once you fail the Teacher Training course in England, you cannot ever retrain; I then became too sick to work because of my Epilepsy. I am now currently studying an MSc in Mental Health Psychology with the University of Liverpool. My disability provokes me into raising awareness for invisible disabilities, which I also actively partake in with Epilepsy Action. Part of that awareness is to help fight against invisible disability discrimination - I believe that this behaviour is not cognitively unconscious; modern society is actively partaking in a hierarchy of disabilities and I believe that there is not enough psychological research to prove this. I am also clinically interested in Cultural Psychology - particularly Collectivist Culture, and wish to pursue this further in my academic career.

One thought on “HMOs and Emojis

  1. It’s sad that this is what we must contend with while renting in London. We pay extortionate rent for this kinda crap. It’s on point. Huff Post can be …weird? I’ve assumed from the blogs they post that they publish posts that are applicable to others, and even when very personal show clear links to how it relates to the rest of the population. This relates to all of us but maybe that correlation would be clearer if you had something like stats saying ‘Acc to Shelter, 1 in 3 housemates encounters a stranger in their living room’… 🙂 But I might be wrong. Also, perhaps more family friendly language? lol (just kidding but you know what I mean?). Anyway it doesn’t matter (I squirm when I get rejections too) but the point is you’ve written from the heart, something that needs to be told. So good job! x

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