Being lost, and about to be homeless is the sad and inevitable consequence of the housing catastrophe we live in. Many people are googling, and even asking me as a last resort about a simple problem: they have nowhere left to go.
These unfortunates are not roofless (the unofficial reality is that to be accepted as homeless, and therefore housed, applicants must be at the very least sofa-surfing to count, such is the demand.) No – these people are desperate and close to disaster.
The reasons are quite straightforward. Because of benefit cuts and the bedroom tax, tenants are being forced to leave their home and are looking for a new place.
But they are flat-hunting whilst in limited poorly paid employment or claiming, and face referencing, extreme vetting and the need for guarantors. Letting agents, certain landlords and even a few housing associations now require spotless reputations, despite the fact that life is messy and human beings make mistakes.
As Tenancy Relations Officer Ben Reeves-Lewis has said hereabouts, even Sir Alan Sugar went bankrupt a few times before becoming ‘Suralun of You’re Fired Towers.’ And as I’ve said here, people lose money when holding fees are swallowed after non-pristine credit checks, and then…well then where do they go? Find a guarantor, except guarantors are increasingly asked to earn disproportionately high levels of pay.
Next up: prices. Agents and owners conspire to ramp up prices where demand is high, leaving claimants and the low paid struggling to cover their rent, and punished by homelessness for their inability to afford the buttock-clenchingly large sums required in certain areas of the country.
The next reason for the precarious nature of housing is supply, and competition for a limited number of suitable houses. This is getting worse with housing benefit cuts, as many people are in desperate need of one bedroom flats under the cruel and ridiculous bedroom tax (don’t tax the bankers – punish the poor.)
The next spectre pushing tenants into the abyss is that of adverse personal circumstances. Being unemployed, or even on low pay makes for an undesirable tenant, and such people face being turned down everywhere they go: letting agents avoid them, and landlords spurn them – despite there being a depression. As I wrote about previously, having kids is also a no-no. As are pets. And just not looking right.
Something is very wrong in housing land. It’s strange how often these fatal flaws are surmountable by cash: pay six months rent in advance, and all flaws are ignored.
In Manchester, and other areas where there was an oversupply of urban Dovecots, prejudices were immediately and strangely overcome when agents and owners endured a lengthy void. They found their homophobia, loathing of the jobless and kids overcame by need and greed. Elsewhere, the perfect tenant (professional – often arriving as a couple even for a one bed) are welcomed in.
Meanwhile, the gathering storm is swirling in the distance: homeless figures are spiralling. I wrote while back I write that something very bad is going to happen. Well, now it’s begun. Brace yourselves: it’s going to get ugly.