Renting is in the news, at long last. According to the latest census results, home-ownership is in decline, and renters are increasing (figures don’t seem to include how many owners possess more than one home ie buy-to let, but we’ll ignore that, shall we?)
Do I feel validated? Or peeved about the people who commented ‘why not buy a flat/it’s not that bad’? I’m trying to be generous, but some of the news agencies now so very angry (or at least vocal) about the existence and state of renting have been whining about house prices falling as if that’s a bad thing.
Now, somebody in Parliament reads rentergirl regularly. Unless Camoron is reading this blog before sloping of to howl at the moon and drink the blood of helpless kittens, I’m thinking it’s Labour enjoying my lyrical insights hereabouts.
And recently, Labour issued a document – having realised that there are votes to grab, with renters growing in number and anger mounting. One policy solution is predictably safe: longer tenancies, therefore mirroring Shelter’s recently proposed Stable Renting Contract and my own much re-stated hatred of Assured Short Term Tenancies (Accursed Short-Term Travesties.)
Labour knows of the evil done by spiralling rents, so I’m suggesting two reasons for their recent embracing of no-higher-than-inflation rent rises: it’s popular with tenants (less so with profiteering landlords). It will also save billions (and I mean billions) in the housing benefits paid over to scrounging, sponging, shirking landlords (sorry, but they reap the rewards of housing benefit/LHA, not tenants, and that’s the language used on claimants.) Rents must rise no more than inflation. All very well and good, but what if inflation rises again (which will happen at some point.)
In stressing the harm caused by insecurity, Labour repeatedly use a phrase that makes me scream: ‘hard working families.’ What about singles/childless couples… etc? I’ve written before about the effect of transience and insecurity on communities, schools and health. So longer tenancies are official policy, which is good, but moving every six months is detrimental to everyone affected, even (or especially?) those without paid work.
There was no mention of restraining feral letting-agents, although the heroic Jeremy Corbyn MP tried his luck with an early day motion. Sad thing is, this is the one thing popular with both landlords and tenants (everyone hates letting agents and they don’t care) but it’s doomed, unless the Libdems agree. Nobody in power seems to have grasped that letting agents are the prime movers for private rented profiteering. It’s not even landlords: letting agents place an inherent above inflation rent rise in many contracts.
So we all agree. Renting must change, and soon. If we all shout together, will parliament hear us? Follow the Scottish model, and ban letting agents from charging tenants: landlords can pay instead.
If you do this, we will love you forever. We will wash your car. We’ll even let the odd little expenses thing slip by. We might even vote for you.
And finally, to MP’s, commentators, pressure groups and think-tanks. Sorry. I can’t resist it.
I TOLD YOU SO!!!!
(I did though. I really did.)