Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Renting Getting Nasty.

I’ve been perusing my statcounter again, the widget that lets me check search terms used by yourselves to find me, and oh - what joy there is to be found. My favourite was this gem, ‘I fucking hate my whining tenants.’

The assault on social housing via the bedroom tax is just one example of the way tenants are viewed as lesser forms of life than richer, home or other property owning mortals.

But let’s be fair – some tenants, a minority, whine. They think rentiers can, and indeed must teleport over pronto to open sticky kitchen drawers. They are mercifully few and far between.

Meanwhile a few benighted tenants are being shot, unlawfully evicted, or housed on sheds. More commonly tenants endure constant insecurity. Worse still, they now face being evaluated on dubious cowboy referencing sites, appraised negatively for having the audacity to ‘smell of drink,’ be claimants or unemployed, for daring to ask for repairs, or have the misfortune to live under the jackboot of a rentier who frankly does not like the cut of their jib.

These sites are astonishing. They insist that tenants must list any ‘identifying marks,’ and state if they are disabled. Commentors share their intention to deny housing to various ethnic groups. It’s existence is legally and morally weak. Or just plain nasty.

But there are many people desperate or sufficiently ill-informed, and probably too scared, to refuse to hand over their personal details. How will this information be stored, how safely are details checked and kept, who will be allowed access? The answer it seems, is anyone who pays.

I do not like these ‘hate’ sites, for rentiers or tenants. They formalise and publicise grudges, with no right of reply: I prefer sites where rentiers and renters rate each other, with a mutual likelihood of respect and fairness, not charging rentiers for access to un-checked slurs.

Rentiers frequently forget that letting property is a business, with human beings at the heart - flawed organic beings, who grow old, get ill or have accidents. Tenants fondly imagine that they pay for a total service, not just the honour of insuring the rentier’s pension, so they can just sit still to watch the property bubble inflate and float away again.

Renters amble on with life, ducking some quite awful treatment. Some – mostly small-time, inexperienced - rentiers wish to avoid due process, so evict tenants by secret handshakes or telepathy, whenever they want, no matter how unfair. Then they laugh at tenants for their human foibles, like being mentally ill, or enduring low pay.

The other challenge faced in this increasing torrent of bile is dodgy bailiffs. They offer to circumvent proper solicitors, and their fees, but also – their expertise. They offer ‘fast action’ on ‘unwanted’ tenants, when they ‘fast-track’ vacant possession.’ Every cold euphemism hides a cruel illegal act.

Renting is already expensive, insecure and belittling for adults seeking an actual home. Police – unless properly trained and instructed, often take the side of the freehold owner during illegal evictions. It’s increasingly like dodge city. Occasionally with real bullets.





Alyson Macdonald said...

I had a bit of a run-in with the owner of Landlord Referencing last year. I wrote about a number of referencing sites for the EPTAG blog, and, having got a mention, he decided to start claiming that EPTAG had endorsed his grubby little enterprise. When I complained, he threatened to sue me for libel because I quoted something he said in a BBC radio documentary, and insisted that I had to interview him so that I could write a more positive article. The man is a bully.

RenterGirl said...

That doesn't surpise me. Keep in mind - the wheels of the law are turning right now. So many issues with these sites, like data protection, libel... etc. I hope you refused to interview him. Don't these people realise that when they post stuff online, people can - you know - see it?