Strange days indeed. The sun’s turned blue, and in Norfolk, a three headed cow was born. Also: our busy politicians have condescended to (half-heartedly) spend some time discussing private rented housing.
Forgive me for not floating on a lilac cloud of joy, but I don’t believe anything will change. The current situation is labyrinthine and chaotic. We need a powerful agency to monitor and regulate renting, while standing up for tenants. Until then, in order of effectiveness, here’s who you can call now, for all the good it will do:
The landlord? Fine unless the problem is the landlord themselves (which it generally is.) Don’t worry if they’re based abroad - they’ll fly over on their private jet and fix the toilet themselves, pronto. Alternatively, they could ignore you, or commence possession proceedings immediately. Either, really.
The local council? Councils can refuse HMO licences and take action if property is unsafe. First they’ll say: “….keep a diary.” I wonder if this ever leads to housing officers confronted by the following:
“Day begins, as ever with a crafty Jodrell, but still the world seems dark, so very dark (dark!) Nobody understands me (except maybe The Smiths) so I’m running away from home.”
You’re supposed to be recording the misdemeanours of crooked proprietors, like leaking pipes, lack of HMO licences, dangerous appliances, and nefarious neighbourly fly-tipping and drug farms. But thanks for sharing.
Rent officers? In the old days, tenants could ask for a ruling on what was a fair rent. Such a lovely idea. Nowadays they spend their days finding the cheapest rent in any area in order to keep Local Housing Allowance at a permanent low, and they are mighty good at this.
The National Federation of Builders? Royal Institute Of British Architects? Planners? “Hello! This buy-to-let newbuild dovecot I am renting is crap. Please send round a squad to rebuild it and remodel the interior, at no extra cost.” Oh, wouldn’t it be nice…
The police? Horses for courses, obviously; don’t alert the persons in blue if your roof is leaking. They don’t care (and why should they?) The police are the bouncers, the door security-staff of the legal world. They don’t know the rules, they just do the arresting. So even if you are being threatened/harassed by neighbours and landlords, don’t expect too much.
Your spiritual advisor? By your side for all the unpleasant things in life, like exorcisms, funerals and weddings, or worse – when you finally go postal and kill your flatmates/landlord/letting agent. (NB – the last one? Don’t. It. Would. Be. Wrong.)
Relate? There should be some sort of support-group or mediation-service for house-sharers. The low number of flatmate-on-flatmate murder leads me to conclude that humanity is less warlike than previously feared. Isn’t that nice?
Random people on the streets? It doesn’t work. They look at you funny, and afterwards they run away. I know this.
The letting agent? Oh, perrr-leez… No; wait a minute - let’s have ourselves some fun. You could complain, for a laugh, and play letting-agent-repair-response-bingo, where you tick off their most inventive evasion. Big boys did it and ran away? The dog ate the deposit? Ask the landlord? And around we go…