Telling myself, while I was still very angry, that it would all seem funny one day, I pulled together some of the facts of the case. First of all, some background: the rental market in Oxford, England, is stressful, to say the least. It is entirely possible to pay $1000 a week for a studio or one bedroom apartment. Such prices tend to be for short term rentals, and I decided to try for a more reasonable long term rental. Buying one of the one million-plus tiny Victorian houses in the area near my college didn’t seem a good idea.
So I found online a Great flat in exactly the right area and with a bonus view over the Oxford canal. And I used the online site to write to the letting agency, a distinguished and established one. In effect, I sent them an inquiry connected to a female name from a person in Houston, TX.
The next thing I know, I received a fairly long list of questions, including ones about visas, pets and children. I do wish I had stopped there. I should have just said, let’s decide on the details of the lease and I can answer these later before everything is finalized.
Foolishly, I answered them. Clearly not a careful reader, the realtor misunderstood my response and concluded that I wasn’t really interested in renting. And a week after my inquiry he tells me that someone else has made an offer that they are accepting.
So what happened? Despite my experience as a feminist in philosophy, I was at first inclined to think he just was a not very bright young man. But suddenly I remembered what can be the point of introducing a list of distractors. At the very least, it delays things so that the candidate doesn’t get full treatment and some ‘more acceptable’ alternative can be found. It also takes the proceedings more or less out of the control of the candidate.
Who knows what was really going on? At least, it could have been much, much worse. As the Guardian has pointed out, some London landlords are demanding sex for a lease.