Monday, 13 May 2013

Cult of Insecurity.

The new insecurity began in the Private Rental Sector, with its six month tenancies, LHA (private housing’s bedroom tax, introduced by kindly Labour) and notice to quit issued on a whim. Now it’s creeping into social housing.

The new proposals were drawn up by people drinking vats of Chablis on their verandah, who own homes and enjoy the confidence that stems from not having worry about little things like food or bills. People who do not understand that poverty is caused by a lack of money, not a dearth of aspiration. Rich people who believe that shooing stinking plebs out of council housing will ‘nudge’ them into becoming company directors. Corrupt people who let their rich friends buy housing stock and rent it out to richer people (as you might call anyone lucky enough to have a job) which happened after right-to-buy.

People like National Idiot Boy In Chief – Grant Shapps, who is still peachy-keen to end tenancies for life (presumably, errant owner-occupiers might soon face being forcibly moved out of Esher when they are naughty.)

Amazingly, the often enlightened Scottish government has raised the spectre of probationary tenancies, where tenants have a year to prove they are lovely. So let’s look to America, where a maximum income ceiling already blights life in their council housing aka ‘projects.’ Anyone who by means of luck, education, business-skill, or promotion earns more money, subsequently loses not just their home, but their neighbourhood, thereby undermining a sense of community. Destabilising cohesion mimics the unsettling nature of the PRS, where many tenants live constantly on edge.

Then we have the housing association behaving like a Victorian mill-owner, by insisting that new tenants sign up to be good citizens. This means accepting ‘lifestyle goals’ like exercise, healthy living and contributing to the community, but tenants who don’t wish to sign are advised that they might wish to live elsewhere. So much for freedom of choice. My advice is to sign, then present their own similarly worded document for housing officers, insisting they renounce Prosecco by the crate, on pain of losing their job.

Then there’s the bedroom tax, where social tenants face losing their beloved two-bed flat, even when one of those ‘spare’ bedrooms is just a box-room used for storage (the clue is in the name – box rooms, that is storage, ie for boxes.)

It used to be accepted that a secure home was not just desirable, or a treat for good little citizens, but an absolute right. PRS tenants can currently be forced to move every six months. This happens far too often, and the problem is that even if private landlords choose not to turf people out on a whim, they can if they want to.

Don’t let this happen to social housing too – don’t mess up people’s lives. In the bad old days, bad old men would ‘joke,’ boasting about keeping women ‘barefoot and pregnant,’ so as to maintain masculine power and control. Perhaps working people are being kept ‘insecure, hungry and poor,’ so as better to maintain corporate control.


Dazzla said...

"Then we have the housing association behaving like a Victorian mill-owner, by insisting that new tenants sign up to be good citizens. This means accepting ‘lifestyle goals’ like exercise, healthy living and contributing to the community, but tenants who don’t wish to sign are advised that they might wish to live elsewhere."

It's another symptom of encroaching fascism. Anyone who thinks this is in any way hysterical or hyperbolic would do well to acquaint themselves with the history of the interbellum period in Europe.

space cadet said...

Dazzla's right. As for me, I'm starting to feel so very helpless, i'm even losing the hope, I once had, that things would get better soon. But when? Really, when?

Barney from Newington said...

I think the probationery tenancies are long overdue.

You currently have some council tenants demanding the earth, causing anti-social behaviour and not paying their rent.

Under the current system these tenants are untouchable and they know it.

It would be much better for them to know that the council had real power and if they don't play by the rules then the council will take the property off them and rent it to someone who will.

RenterGirl said...

Dazzla and Space Cadet - it is terrifying.

Barney - I'd like to say good to have you back. But it isn't. Social tenants can already be evicted for anti social behaviour/non-payment of rent - so if they then 'misbehave' after one year , then can still be evicted. As usual - miss the point of the blog - which is about insecurity, not bigotry.

Dazzla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dazzla said...

Wait, Barney: are you saying that you'd like the state to be given powers to evict people from their homes if they get tired of hearing their demands and complaints?

You don't think that sounds a tiny bit troubling, do you?

Barney from newington said...

No Dazzla that is not what I am saying.

Perhaps you think that not paying rent and anti-social behaviour is acceptable I don't.

Renter Girl

The tenants can be evicted but then they become homeless and the council has a duty to rehouse them.

Dazzla said...

The council doesn't have a duty to house the homeless. I know this from personal experience.

Go away, trolling child.

RenterGirl said...

Dazzla - it's true and they have limited duty to house homeless people. But councils often try hard not to render tenants homeless

Anonymous said...

I thought you might be interested to see this BBC video about how an actor was ripped off by a letting agent in Manchester. Unfortunately, they make absolutely no mention of the fact that this was an illegal eviction (evicted him after 5 months, despite a 6 month fixed term). If only he'd taken legal advice at the time!

RenterGirl said...

His rent was outrageous. And yep - illegal eviction. Mind - now, like his fellow sufferers, he's playing find the agent.

space cadet said...

Oh, if only Nigel had left a sarcastic message for Adnan Ali to pass onto himself. I wonder when the Govt will start caring about the mass extortion taking place on our high streets. You know, I mean: caring enough to stop it. Now.

Barney from Newington said...

If you watch carefully Nigel Havers did not rent the property, it was rented by Haverstock Limited (presumably as a tax dodge).

As a limited company he would not have the same protection as an individual.

As Renter Girl likes to tell landlords "Its a business", so chin up Nigel it's not the end of the world you can write it off against tax and you have twenty years to enforce your court judgement.

RenterGirl said...

Nope, Barney - it's not the same.

Matt W(ardman) said...

No, it is not unlawful eviction, for a whole quiver of reasons.

1 - He agreed to leave. A 2 minute call to a solicitor would establish that he did not have to leave.
2 - It's a "serviced apartment", and it isn't his residence. Though he probably gets a maid service. Unlawful eviction does not apply to hotels and similar.
3 - The contracts for these places usually includes a clause to end a stay if required.
4 - It couldn't even be an AST if he *was* renting it, as it is not his main home, with repaid fees.
5 - It is a business tenancy, and businesses do not count as "residential occupiers".
6 - The only personal occupier would be Nige Ltd renting it to Nige, and he would be unlawfully evicting himself. Err.

The only dispute is a failure to return £1300.

The story is actually about the difficulty of tracing debtors.

And about NH being a wombat.

Matt W(ardman) said...

Point 4.

" with repaid fees" left in by mistake.