Sunday, 26 January 2014
Because We Want To
Imagine this: being refused entry to an open supermarket because it’s Wednesday. Or being denied the use of a road because the council, without justification, feel like it – or because you’ve got funny hair. Or being thrown out of a restaurant halfway through a meal because you asked, politely, for a clean fork. Or thrown off a train for being poor, and in 2nd class.
Not wishing to harp on about those damn Wilsons, but for me the most shocking part of the whole sorry tale is the fact they could evict their tenants because they want to. Much is made by Shelter, the various housing ministers and media about rogue landlords, when for me, the worst problem in the whole rented sector is the sense of insecurity.
It works this way. Tenants move in, and letting agents insist on a six month, assured short-term tenancy. Some – the minority – renew with another contract of similar length. If you’re really fortunate, you’re allowed a whole twelve months. But for others, the contract is not renewed – instead it’s ‘rolled over’. This means you don’t endure the continuous renewal fees payable in England, but the other effect is that occupants need only be issued with two months notice when the urge to turf them out strikes.
No-fault evictions are the bain of every tenant’s life. Rentiers commonly chuck out perfectly fine tenants because they can, and because they want to. No need for a reason – even if the secret, hidden cause is owners thinking they can earn more money, or that tenants have insisted on essential repairs, which is known as retaliatory evictions.
Where demand is high and supply limited, I’ve heard of occupants guessing that their lord and effective master is looking elsewhere only when the front door opens and prospective new occupants are shooed hurriedly around. Oh – and they’ve been texted to explain their task is to clean up and ‘be nice.’
This is all perfectly lawful (if a bit stupid) and tenants must even keep their heads down and be nice to avoid their seigneur cursing them with a bad reference. Landlords keep one eye on making more money, and even issue notice to quit, which is withdrawn if they fail to get a better offer. Yep – this happens, especially in property hot-spots.
This highlights another inherent problem with renting – that of amateur rentiers, who thrive on making sure their tenants i.e. the saps who subsidise their pensions or business portfolio are permanently on tenterhooks.
Precarious life, seeped in insecurity makes people ill. No fault evictions are wrong. They’re helpful to nobody – even landlords suffer. They facilitate prejudice, enhance insecurity, and are curse on long term plans. Simply losing your private sector home is now one the main causes of homelessness, and local council must pick up the pieces from the shattered lives caused by short termist cruelty.
To evict a tenant, rentiers should, be forced by law to provide a damn good , evidenced reason.
Either that or letting renters to be empowered to vacate without prejudice because the owner of their home has bad taste in clothes.
Which brings me back, neatly, back to the Wilsons and their hideous Burberry.