This blog has moved from writing about my previous, falling down home within the horror-scape of Dovecot Towers, on to the design of housing, to the nature of being a tenant, or rather the nightmare of renting, and dealing with letting agents, who are still the monstrous enemy at the door.
As for design, I’ve long thought that all homes should feature not just storage for, you know accumulated ‘stuff,’ but also sufficient space to keep a bike. Or bikes. Several bikes. Because, they’re cheap and green and cycling is the way forward.
Newbuilds should be mindful of this increased bike need. They’re often built just slightly too far away from city centres, and could even feature their own, special bike hire hub. Bike storage could be built into the entrance halls – or in basements, next to car parks.
Cycling keeps you fit and healthy – plus, it’s cheap. The only problem is finding somewhere to stash them, or to mend punctured tyres and paint them. It’s worse when visitors bring their own cycles when visiting you – especially if you live somewhere that’s not safe, and you must remove the wheels and lamps, etc.
*sighs, then weeps*
Oh, who I am kidding? I don’t care about bikes right now – there are so many more important problems and issues.
It shouldn’t be that social security cuts are affecting the housing situation as much as they are. But they are. And they’re hurting everybody. The benefit cap, then Local Housing Allowance which severely restricts where claimants can live – that is, right at the bottom of where it’s safe to live. By this I don’t mean ‘affordable’ – there’s no such thing.
I mean where it’s scary. Where CCTV points to the problem side of the road, where there are no bijou cafes, just tanning salons, ‘Turf accountants’ and pound shops. Where insurance costs are restrictive because crime is high. Nor do I mean edgy, trendy or arty.
Then there’s the whole of renting, of interminable references, credit checks, ‘affordability’ checks, one-off cleaning fees, fees to collect fees, all charged to both tenants and owners.
The previous post discusses the idea of intentional, vindictive inherent insecurity – of never really knowing how long you can stay.
The privately rented house is rarely a home. Why bother to unpack, when you can’t paint without knowing you must repaint possibly in six months time, and why buy nice household items when sooner rather than later they’ll be stored or dropped on the pavement by the kindly friend who’s helping you to move house again, for the umpteenth time in five years. If in London, you will be dreading rent rises, having no pension, keeping enough to one side, not for a deposit to buy a home but for the next deposit on renting one.
Yes, design matters. Storage is essential and bicycles are fantastic. Bike sheds outside, with safe secure areas to mend and keep them. But you know what, even with the mooted increase in private buy-to-let developments where these issues could be properly considered and catered for, right now there are so many other priorities.