FINDING somewhere to rent in Oxford has been exhausting.

I search Rightmove, Zoopla and On the Market daily and just this week alone I’ve had three house viewings.

But all have ended in misery, writes digital editor Fran Way.

It’s not that there aren’t properties available – there’s loads. But they all go so quickly, it’s as if people are panic renting.

To be transparent, I’ll list my criteria, but I’ll warn you: I’m a little fussy.

For under £1,000, I’m looking for a clean, non-damp ridden studio or one-bed property.

Every day (come rain or shine) I cycle or walk around the city – I find it’s much quicker than driving, saves money and is generally better for the planet.

So, my new-home-to-be needs to be a short walk or cycle away from the city centre.

Now here’s the problem - I also need a parking space.

Oxford Mail: My checklistMy checklist

Applying the above criteria into various property sites, I found 25 options which quickly were whittled down to five - and only two within the ring road.

Out of those, I found three I would be happy to live in.

Here’s my experience so far:

Flat 1: The One

The first property was a love story that was well-over before it even started. I found this place on Abingdon Road - a short walk into the city centre, a 10-minute cycle to work.

The listing even had a floor plan – a kitchen, toilet, bedroom, and a balcony. This is it.

But I check my phone, it’s 7pm and the estate agents has long closed.

That’s fine – I’ll call back in the morning.

“This property has already been let” – I’m shocked, it had only been uploaded not even 24 hours earlier. “They put a holding fee down this morning.”

Drat. Without a viewing? This is a wild rental market to be in.

Flat 2: The Catfish

This one checked all of the boxes and was still available. So I booked a slot.

When I arrived, the estate agent led me around the back of the houses, down a path and pointed up some metal stairs. “It’s up here,” she said.

“There is one thing I need to let you know...”

‘Oh no’, I thought.

“Somebody died in this property, I have to say,”

People die all the time; this isn’t a deal breaker.

So, we went on inside, after a few bashes of the door to get it to open.

It was pitch black, with no lights switches in sight. This isn’t helped by the darkness outside, and it’s only 4pm.

I turn on my phone light to have a search of the flat but with somebody’s stuff everywhere, I feel like an intruder.

Bingo – the light switch is found. But there’s one thing that I can’t see anywhere – a bed.

“Where do they sleep?” I ask the estate agent.

She points to a sofa bed set up in front of a TV, “I think they use that; it folds out.”

For a second, I contemplated it – but seriously, who can be bothered to put their bed away every single morning?

Flat 3: The Mystery

“Are you on your way to viewing? I’m outside the property waiting.” A text popped up on my phone.

Oh no. I had completely forgotten I’d booked this one. My mistake.

Luckily, I wasn’t too far away – if I get a taxi. I dialled for Royal Cars and arrived within 15 minutes, she was happy to wait.

As I pulled up outside the flat, the estate agent was in the arch of the doorway in what appeared to be a conversation with the current tenant.

She turned around: “I just went in, and he was asleep on the bed, he doesn’t want us to come inside, and I can’t force our way in. Sorry you’ve had a wasted trip but maybe you can book another viewing.”

I’m not sure whether to laugh, or cry. The search continues.

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