I’ve written previously about the device I use which shows the keywords used to find this blog. Apart from the usual queries involving rubber gloves (still strikingly popular) recently, I’ve noticed a disturbing development.
There’s been a notably increased amount of phrases such as: “I’m afraid of my landlord.” Or “…my landlord comes round unannounced.” Worst of all was “My landlord threatens me.” Along with “Is my landlord entitled to go through my underwear drawer.”
This might sound crassly obvious – but it’s horrible to live in fear. For most tenants, the next few years will be lived under a palpable sense of nervousness, as we ponder the perennial question: whatever will become of us? With increasing reliance on private rented housing, the regulation of agents and landlords has been ruled out, and – judging from some of the comments/keywords/comments I’ve seen, the other measures supposed to protect us simply do not work.
People are scared. Large scale private investors are looking to do what those individual buy-to-let investors did: build loads of news homes, and then decide who lives in them. Occupants (i.e. tenants) are not now, and never will be consulted about their needs, or even what they’d like from a home. And landlords…ah landlords…
They argue on a loop claiming to endure restrictions so tight they can barely breathe, let alone their sacred right to evict renters randomly at will and throw their belongings out on the street…(Oh, I’m being bad I know, but it’s a right they cling to.)
It is a paradox – most tenants like the freedom of renting a house: not feeling so tied down, living a life of short term contracts matched by short term living arrangements. But the downside is a life of insecurity: wilfully encouraged by landlords and letting agents, who delight in undermining any hard-won semblance of security.
But this philosophy is pernicious. It seeps and infects your life: tenants never know when they will have to move and are treated like mould in the bathroom – tolerated briefly and then eradicated.
And now we are scared. Some of us are terrified. Landlords are flexing their muscles, and in certain distressing cases - are behaving badly. Judging by the recent onslaught of questions about personal safety reaching me, it’s only a matter of time before something really bad happens.
So please: if you land here because you are being threatened and/or intimidated – please use more the helpful sites on the blogroll to the right of the page, especially the wonderful Shelter.
And remember this: you have rights. You are not vermin. You are a human being, paying rent to live in a building which is a home (not the physical embodiment of another person’s luxurious retirement bungalow dream) and you should not live in fear. Remember this when you are being terrorised: slipping away and not making a fuss is tempting, but if we don’t fight back, it’s going to get worse, and worse.