Sharing beds with bugs, so agencies can make profit

Right underneath the door knocker, there was a drawing. A profanity known to Czechs and Slovaks, Symbol that refers to an English version of the word “c**t”.  A rhombus stood on one of its sharper points with a vertical line in the middle, painted with a black pencil. A stained door that used to be white reminds me of a bathtub in the cheap Frankfurt hotel I stayed in two months ago. On the left were two broken bells, with a thumb size spider hanging above them. The wooden flooring inside the house was made of three distinct shades of brown. Every piece of furniture was different and there were 5 fridges.

Bohemia World, Walthamstow

Bohemia World is renting 60 to 80 houses in East and North London. It provides housing to short and long-term tenants. Rent ranges from £75 per person per week in a double occupancy room. Libor Michna, who is a former employee of Bohemia world, describes what the agency offers for tenants. He said, “You would get a single or double room, there would be a bed, chest of drawers and a wardrobe, maybe a desk. It`s a simple accommodation, not as expensive as a hotel, you`re not given a service as in a hotel, but you get a home.”

Libor Michna


Shesan Adebowale from the Waltham Forest defines what a share house is, “These are properties occupied by at least 3 persons who are not from 1 household. Landlords are required to get a selective licence from the council`s licensing section. This section will administer any emanates housing issues from these properties if deficiencies are reported or if found, not license.” Licenses are issued for up to five years. Unless tenants raise a complaint to the council, they are not required to make follow up checks.

Lubomir lives in a house occupied by six people, formerly ten people. The number of tenants has gone down since the house was infested with pests including mice, cockroaches and bed bugs. But still, the

The fridges

se seven people can live with this fact. Lubomir, a tenant of five years, said, “I`m in a vicious circle. That doesn`t mean I like my current situation, but I got used to the circumstances.” If a shared house is infested with pests, all the furniture must be thrown away and replaced. This has never happened in Lubomir`s house. The infestation regularly reoccurs.

“There are different fees and legal norms on how many people can live in a house and if we were to follow these rules a hundred percent, the way it should be, no one would make money on this, they would be losing money. Some rules have to be bent so they can make profit,” says Michna.

The `smoking room`

There is no legal limit on how many people can live in a house if the rooms are occupied by a maximum of 2 people per room. Waltham Forest Council states that a minimum room size for a single room is 6 and a half square metres and 10.2 square metres for a double room. Three out of five rooms in this house don’t fulfill this requirement. “I remember a call from the agency two or three years  

ago, we were told to leave the house, someone was coming from the council. Before the visit, Bohemia world`s people came in the house and removed some of the beds, to pass the check” says Lapko. When questioned about this, Libor Michna, who was still working for the agency at the time, replies: “Certain things had to be adjusted to pass the council check, otherwise they would lose the license.”





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