Yoo-Hoo! Jack Dromey!
Cooee-cooee…I can see you!
Technology is marvellous, and thanks to a mcguffin I can see who reads this blog, where they are and how long they linger over my fine words. Intriguingly, over the past few months, my work is being repeatedly read by persons unknown in the House of Commons.
Now, it might the cleaner, struggling to cover the rent on minimum wage. It might be newbie housing minister Prisk, reading about the trauma of renting, all the better to ignore our woes since he is, like all his accomplices, not keen on ‘regulation.’
Worse: it might be one of the 25% of Condem MP’s who are private landlords.
I am however hopeful that someone, perhaps even Jack Dromey the Shadow Housing Minister is paying attention. If so, I am going to spell it out. This is what tenants want. More to the point – this is what tenants genuinely need.
(1) Security. We want to know we can stay, and we want to know that tenants can only be given notice for a damn good reason, and not because it’s Wednesday, because the owner has thing about Librans, or you know… just because. Currently we can be given notice for whimsical and capricious reasons.
(2) Licence and register landlords. Yep. It must happen. Tattooists need a licence, as do café owners – contravening rules leads to losing the business. Currently even in violent wrongful evictions, landlords rarely suffer the full weight of the law, and police often collude in their actions.
(3) Follow Scottish model for banning letting agents ‘premiums’ ie the curious inventive fees charged without cause and with impunity (and no making them ‘transparent’ is NOT enough!) Landlords can pay. Oh – and agents must be trained to degree level and licensed.
(4) Rogue landlords are an attention grabbing minority. But anyone who herds tenants into a shed and or those letting dangerous buildings (ie faulty electrical wiring) should be barred for life whilst forfeiting their property, which then fortuitously passes into council ownership.
(5) Bring back rent controls. I know Shelter don’t agree, but the only real reason for rents to rise is spiralling interest rates (currently at their lowest ever level). It’s greed pure and simple: letting agents ramp up prices because they can and because they want to: there are no genuine reasons. Rent officers should again visit and forbid or allow rent increases.
We are many, we are unhappy and we are learning how to bite back. See the recent actions by Edinburgh Private Tenant’s Action (their marshals visited another letting agent recently) and Housing For The 99% who ‘inspected’ a London letting agents (caught rejecting claimants) in high-vis vests and carrying clipboards.
As long as renters can be moved on every six months for no clear reason, they cannot rest safe. Schools have uncertain numbers of pupils, and few tenants are registered to vote, as we move so much. Hey there Jack - we also feel that nobody represent us. Whoever listens and enables renting to improve might find we vote for them.