What I Rent: Tim and Mathilde, who pay £2,000 a month for their Leamington Spa one-bed
Tom and Mathilde live in Royal Leamington Spa (Picture: Ana Frantz)

Welcome back to another instalment of Metro’s tenant diary series, What I Rent.

This week we’re chatting to Tim Johnson and Mathilde Rollin, who share a one-bedroom flat in Royal Leamington Spa with their cat Basil, paying £2,000 each month in rent and bills.

The couple are landlords of a home they own in Versailles, France, as well as tenants here in the UK, having lived in this property for the last three-and-a-half years.

Here’s what they had to say about their renting situation…

Tell us about yourselves.

We’re Tim Johnson, 44, and Mathilde Rollin, 38.

I’m Tim, the director of Cora + Spink, a design company where we focus on enhancing the image of plant based, natural materials in the world of backpacks and accessories. Mathilde is Lead Designer for Tata Motors, looking after the colour, materials and finishes of concept and production cars, including development of the brand’s electric vehicles.

How much do you pay to live here?

Our apartment here in Royal Leamington Spa costs us about £2,000 a month all in, but it varies depending on the time of year and the need for heating, as it’s in a conservation area and we rely on the original single glazing, and it’s quite draughty and cold in winter!

Our rent is £1,350 per month (including fees/service charge). Then our energy bills are around £280, council tax £100, water £50, insurance £20, and internet £25.

What I Rent: Tim and Mathilde, who pay £2,000 a month for their Leamington Spa one-bed
They share their flat with cat, Basil (Picture: Ana Frantz)

And what do you get for what you pay?

It’s a one-bed, duplex apartment of about 100 square metres. We have a beautiful main living room that has managed to retain its features from 1847, which besides my office in the converted basement is where we spend the majority of our time.

We have a courtyard terrace, where I’m trying to grow some vegetables, that gives us plenty of space to eat outside and BBQ when the weather permits! The good sized kitchen, also in the basement, is perfectly fine, although if it was possible we’d love to renovate.

We’re also lucky that there are a couple of bathrooms and an ensuite shower to the master bedroom.

Do you feel like you have a good deal?

Absolutely. Leamington is known for a mobile population and competitive rentals, but even so, good property gets snapped up so quickly, even in today’s climate, good rentals don’t stay on the market for long.

We’re happy with the price we pay, but the bills are very high in the winter due to the place being poorly insulated.

Where is your home based? What do you think of the area?

Our home is in Leamington Spa is a beautiful area, less than five minutes walk to the centre of town, known for its regency architecture, beautiful parks, and vibrant community. It’s a perfect blend of urban conveniences and natural beauty.

Our focus with finding the perfect house was always to be around people and things to do. Leamington brings us that, from the brilliant variety of independent shops to restaurants and businesses all on our doorstep.

What I Rent: Tim and Mathilde, who pay £2,000 a month for their Leamington Spa one-bed
Rent and bills come to around £2,000 each month (Picture: Ana Frantz)

How did you find this property?

It took us nearly a year to find this flat. We were looking in all the usual online places, from Facebook market place to Rightmove – the initial photos of the flat weren’t actually that appealing, they were quite old, and because the flat is quite dark downstairs the photos didn’t do it justice.

However we saw some of the original features straight away, and on our visit knew it was for us immediately.

Did you have to pay a deposit?

Yes, I think it was set at one-and-a-half months’ rent, something like that.

How have you made this place feel like home?

Both of us work in a creative field, and share a passion for collecting furniture and art. So for the three-and-a-half years we’ve been here our collections have really started to put our stamp on the place.

We have kept the place maintained rather than decorating too much, although we did remove the carpets in the living room to restore the original floorboards, and have done some decoration throughout.

Our cat, Basil, certainly adds a lively touch to the place too, with his fur and scratches atoning most surfaces.

What I Rent: Tim and Mathilde, who pay £2,000 a month for their Leamington Spa one-bed
The couple love the location (Picture: Ana Frantz)

Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?

We always communicate with our landlord before making any significant changes. So far, we’ve been fortunate to have an understanding landlord who appreciates our efforts to maintain and enhance the property.

We have a great relationship with him, and as owners of a property in Versailles, France that we rent out, we understand his position first hand.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Yes, our home is spacious enough for our needs, and it provides a cosy environment for us and Basil. Sometimes, because we like to collect so much stuff, we feel there’s a little too much space!

Are there any problems with the home you have to deal with?

Like any home there are occasional maintenance needs, but our landlord is really good, sending someone around or helping us fix it ourselves. He actually set this flat up as his own flat – so it doesn’t feel like a typical rental that you get a lot of around the area. We have suffered with a couple of leaks from overflowing baths from the flat upstairs though!

Feature in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what’s normal and how much we should be paying.

If you fancy taking part, please email whatirent@metro.co.uk. You’ll need to take pictures of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your bedroom or living area.

Make sure you get permission from your housemates! You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.

We’re not just after the prettiest places out there, by the way. We want the reality of renting, so if you’re currently renting a place you hate, we’d love to see that too (and sympathise greatly!).

Do you have plans to move again any time soon? What about buying a place?

We’re always keeping an eye on the property market. While we love our current home, we’re considering the possibility of buying a house, either here in Leamington Spa or in France, where my partner Mathilde is originally from.

There are so many benefits to living in a rented house though, so any move would have to be to something even more exciting and well located.

Shall we take a look around?

One of the home's main rooms
Let’s start the tour (Picture: Ana Frantz)
Basil the cat
But first, Basil (Picture: Ana Frantz)
The living room
Mathilde and Tom love the home’s unique features (Picture: Ana Frantz)
plants and a lamp in the living room
There are plenty of plants (Picture: Ana Frantz)
Details in the kitchen
But the property can get cold in the winter due to draughty windows (Picture: Ana Frantz)
A wicker chair and plants
They’ve made the place their own with art and unique decor (Picture: Ana Frantz)
The home's large kitchen diner
The kitchen (Picture: Ana Frantz)
The kitchen sink and shelving
Can you tell this pair love collecting antiques? (Picture: Ana Frantz)
The bedroom
Lovely high ceilings in the bedroom (Picture: Ana Frantz)
Basil the cat sitting on a bed in the bedroom
Basil is clearly a fan (Picture: Ana Frantz)
A wrought iron spiral staircase in the duplex
A spiral staircase adds extra character (Picture: Ana Frantz)
The main bathroom
The property’s main bathroom (Picture: Ana Frantz)
Tom and Mathilde reading in the smaller bathroom
There’s also a smaller loo (Picture: Ana Frantz)
Pictures and trinkets on a dresser
Artwork is mixed with sentimental pieces (Picture: Ana Frantz)
The couple on their terrace
The couple also have a terrace out the back (Picture: Ana Frantz)

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

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