Rental Listings

Being a gentlemen of ripening years, and having spent a lot of time travelling around recently – mainly in Spain – I have had occasion to make extensive use of apartment rental websites. It can be a frustrating but also an amusing experience. Unlike in the UK where estate agents and owners normally go to some effort to ‘big up’ the properties they are promoting, in Spain very often no such niceties are engaged, and the prospective tenant is expected to want to rent a property in spite of, not because of, the listing.

Firstly, the photographs. Now call me old-fashioned, but when searching through a list of possible places to live, two dark blurry photos of a brown sofa with closed blinds behind it and a mop next to it are not going to have me reaching for my wallet. Open the blinds, put the mop somewhere else, stand back and get the whole room in. Maybe show some other rooms too. Surely that isn’t too hard?

Also if you are going to the trouble of taking more than two photographs, please, do not make them all ‘artful’ close-ups of a red rose in a vase, or a couple of sparkling glasses nestled against a bottle of red wine. Worse still, a tap, or a curtain, or a teddy bear, or a saucepan. All of these things are of absolutely NO interest to me. I am looking to rent somewhere to live, not draw still lifes. All that an expensively photographed study of a jug of orange juice glistening in the sun on a table tells me is ‘pretentious or bandwagon-jumping owner, deflecting attention away from the flat itself.’ And if you are showing 20 photos, don’t make 14 of them the local streets and sights. Given that I am looking at your listing, and am doing so on the basis that I have worked out where it is and want to stay there, it is highly likely that I will already know what the location offers and will also have seen most those photos before, seeing as you just pasted most of them off the internet.

 Even though it is said that a picture speaks a thousand words, I still regularly come across a description waxing lyrical about the terrace with wonderful views only to find there are no photos of it. Why would you do that? As a result, I move on and look for something that does have a photo. Then I find that the owner has not discovered the joys of a wide-angle lens, so ‘the bedroom’ is just a picture of a large wardrobe with the edge of a bed in front of it. I know most Spaniards try to keep out the heat of the sun, but keeping the shutters down when you take the photos just makes it look dark, foreboding and miserable. Get some sunlight in! You can always close the blinds straight afterwards. So that’s photos.

Now I turn my attention to the descriptions which have accompanied them.

I will say right up front that some of these are just translation errors where the owner has made a valiant attempt at English, and for that I salute them. It is just that the results are often amusing, particularly where it is really hard to understand what they were even translating from, as in “the apartment is located in a building, two floors, accessible by elevator, without stairs to reach the elevator.” You don’t really know where you stand with that one. Or they could just be a subtlety of language, for example “The apartment consists of an entry; on the right a kitchen equipped delicately” which brings to mind the owner placing the cutlery in the drawer with little finger extended. I also liked the flat which proudly pointed out ‘no car needed’ but the next bullet point highlight was ‘underground parking’. On a similar theme: ‘Perfect for holidays, not need the car for nothing.’  And I dread to think what was meant by ‘if a special disposal is desired in the beds, it must be indicated at the time of booking.’

Typos can of course be amusing, as in this one I saw: ‘The complex has a communal poo which is heated in the winter.’ It’s bad enough to admit to having one but to heat it as well?

How about the enigmatic ‘you can also enjoy the night, where we find different places both in the center and on the beach’ – I won’t even begin to unpick that one. Although I was not taken by one listing that described itself as ‘fine apartment located in a puddle’, I was more intrigued by the one that introduced itself as ‘flirty apartment for rent’ and another that offered a ‘lovly housse with lovly lovers’. As this last one also stated that it had 10 beds but only 1 bedroom, perhaps they were just being upfront and honest. Talking of honesty, another one stated “You have the ceiling half-fallen”, but at least the floor was solid, whereas you can’t be too sure with this one: “Kitchen furnished with appliances and soil of parquet.” Some will even boast about features you would think would come as standard: “Upstairs HAVE ROOF, laundry ROOF, AND A ROOM.” Yaaay! Always wanted one of those.

I’ll wrap up with a few other selected favourites: “Historic house filled with wonderful corners, with many possibilities. It would be perfect for a rural settlement.” “The views overlook the typical street, through which we can delve into the city center.” “Direct access to the terrace, but separated by a great closure of glass.” So I may end up sifting through far more property details than I need to, but at least it is good entertainment!

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