Recently, it has been suggested that a register of landlords might control their worst excesses. Naturally, owners are against the proposal on the basis of ‘human rights,’ even though they ask a lot - bank statements, credit references - from their tenants. A register of landlords might at least prevent rogue repeat offenders scaring tenants away, and then starting anew with a fresh batch of victims.
But we shouldn’t need a register. We need a house. You have a house. You need our rent. We pay the rent. I have an inkling that this bargain goes wrong partly because landlords have unrealistic expectations of tenants, like their behaviour, the impact they will have and the time consumed by managing property. They have genuinely forgotten that there are warm-blooded, sentient humans living in their investment. Owners want tenants who have taken a vow of perfection.
Landlords want sanctified, holy, winged tenants with halos, who will pay over the odds, two years in advance. These dream tenants pester the landlord pleading with them: “Please sir, can I pay you some more?”
Tenants must never ask for repairs. They accept the squalor, conceding: “It’s exactly what we deserve; it is our destiny - so it was written.”
In fact, they replace all appliances with top-end luxury substitutes on moving, out of devotion to, senseless love of their master.
Either that, or owners will settle for virtual tenants, holograms, or spectral beings that waft around the property without landing (I expect they’d still find a way to make deductions for wear and tear.)
Landlords want a signed personal guarantee from god/your chosen imaginary deity, who will rumble assurances from on high that rent will be paid. In credit checks, tenants must also be divine and superhuman, undertaking a solemn vow: “I swear on my firstborn’s life I have never, ever, ever, paid bills on a red final demand.”
Landlords hate being scared. The following is scary: tenants. They would actually quite like it if we paid rent without living in the property, to save all the nasty, disruptive business of having us contaminating the flat with our presence (even though we pay to live in it.)
Landlords also want the power to dismiss us instantly by snapping their fingers and intoning: “I evict you, I evict you, I evict you,” because it’s Wednesday, or because they stood in a crack in the pavement, or because their astrologer advised against Scorpios, and men (or women) with moustaches.
Robot tenants are the future. Perhaps the National Landlords Association has constructed a clone of us all which they keep in a pod at the Masonic Lodge. Stepford renters leave no messy residue, and are highly obedient. Landlords want armies of cloned mechanical tenants, marching in step like the workers in Metropolis: “Master, we obey and will sign the S.21 notice, just as you order us to.”
Meanwhile, we remain defiantly and flamboyantly human. Landlords must deal with us as we are now, but still operate as if tenants are drones and good for one thing only, and that’s money.