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Nightmare search for a place to live in London

Carrie-Anne Taylor's housing experiences since moving to London two years ago could fairly be described as nightmarish. The 29-year-old English teacher was hassled by drug dealers in her first flat, burgled at another and had to move out of her boyfriend's home when their relationship ended.

After the break-up last year, a kindly colleague at Haverstock school in Camden took Ms Taylor in while she searched for a new flat. Neither of them expected she would end up staying in his box room for more than 11 months.

Ms Taylor said she had been excited when she first heard about key-worker housing initiatives, but did not realise how expensive they could be.

One scheme, which would have given her a 25 per cent share of a home in Kentish Town, required her to pay more than pound;1,000 a month. Of this, pound;500 was mortgage repayments, pound;400 rent, and pound;80 service charges. On top there were bills. Rental properties in other schemes were also expensive - one charged pound;840 a month.

Ms Taylor said that being single meant many properties were unaffordable. It had also reduced her chances of being selected for a flat, as couples had higher priority.

Her luck improved this month, when she was found a flat in Old Street by the Hyelm housing association. She now has a room with ensuite bathroom and a kitchen which she shares with two others.

"It's a bit like student halls, but I feel very fortunate," she said.

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