Reklaw left this comment recently on quite an old post, so you might have missed it:
“We have been renting for the last three years and have had to move three times in that period. Two of the landlords decided to sell the property that we were living in, one after only three months into the tenancy - even through the property was advertised as "long term". Unfortunately the third move is now imminent. We have contacted our local council in the hope that they may be able to offer a solution only to be told that the wait for any property would be in excess of five years with no guarantee and at the most a one bedroomed flat may be offered. It would seem that we are destined to be nomads heading into retirement. Would be grateful for any comments/solution!!”
I don’t know much about Reklaw, but you know what; this comment really upset me.
Even though I try and put a positive spin on things, all renters, myself included, must accept that the genuine possibility that we might have to move every six months for the rest of our lives. What are we supposed to do? Move to Europe, where renting is the norm, and tenants are treated with respect, rather than as some freakish cash-cow/cockroach hybrid, to be milked dry and then eradicated?
It’s infuriating when people say: “…so move.” Do they imagine that magically, we beam our possessions from house to house like on Star Trek, and that the diligent flat-hunt is undertaken by the property fairy-grandmother?
Moving is always fraught and difficult, and letting agents still insist: of course it’s a long term let. Even my all time best ever landlord demanded assurances that I was in for the long haul, which I took to be two years. He gave me notice when he decided to sell after just eight months.
Moving is also inconvenient and unsettling. There are agency fees to be found, removal vans to hire and pay for, and the time-consuming task of multiple views. There’s overlapping deposits alongside rent in advance, and references to wheedle from lazy or reluctant landlords, who might be going bankrupt. That’s alongside the inevitable loss of internet, phone, and in extreme cases, water and power. Worse for me is the constant packing, unpacking and repacking, time after time after bloody time.
Social housing is scarce. We have no choice but to live this way, and successive governments have decided the private sector must build and then run rented housing. Tenants who stand up for themselves are portrayed as whining and belligerent.
You’d think we were demanding caviar, fresh flowers delivered daily, and stables for the miniature Shetland Ponies we’ve requested, all died pink, when all we want is security and fairness: things like repairs, and the freedom to remain unless there’s a genuine reason to turf us out. The right to vacant possession is regularly abused. When it is, landlords should be fined, and heavily. Owners shouldn’t invest in rental property unless they intend, and have the means for, long term lets, by which I mean decades, not months.
Tenants need a serious official body to protect our rights. The Health & Safety Executive (look upon their name and tremble) is regarded with respect, and a healthy measure of fear. Tribunals overseeing disputes in Employment, Disability and Equality are a proven, powerful and efficient way of making sure obligations are honoured.
But ultimately, what’s needed is a new law: “The Tenants Being Generally Maligned, Abused and Totally Shoved Around (Prevention) Act 2009.” I am aware this blog is regularly read in The House Of Commons. For the sake of people like Reklaw, can we get a sponsor? Because we’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.