Most recent studies about renting indicate that mostly – all is well. Tenants are happy. Renters stay as long as they choose then move on because they’ve found somewhere better or cheaper.
This blog is anecdotal (or more accurately: auto-ethnographic) but it’s still highly persuasive. Because of my past experiences and those of the people who contact me I know that many tenants endure a terrible time.
Accordingly, the statement ‘Oh come on – it’s not really that bad is?’ makes my blood boil.
The argument is that renting in the UK’s PRS can’t be so horrible, because otherwise, renters would move or buy somewhere, wouldn’t they?
These same idiots then add their own selective anecdotes – or rather urban myths: ‘Oh, my friends have lived in the same beautiful rented home for years/have an amazing to the point of angelic landlord/ pay peanuts to live in a mansion.’ So clearly I am making all this stuff up.
Well, no. Like nonagenarians who smoke eighty cigarettes per day, an idyllic renting life says nothing about those stuck living in a rented nightmare. The two situations of perfection and horror are not mutually exclusive; the perfection scenario is a statistical outrider.
Those surveys which purportedly revealed the blissful happiness of tenants are mostly discredited because of inadvertent bias, in that they seek to satisfy a desired outcome which influences how they were framed, the questions asked or chosen interviewees.
However, more recent surveys by serious official organisations reveal the many problems faced by tenants. At the bleaker end of renting there are some terrible conditions – from mould, damp, severe to minor disrepair such as broken heaters, leaking roofs, smashed windows and no insulation. In many places, this is everyday normality.
In renting purgatory, life is forever tenuous and insecure. Tenants exist with no idea of when they will be forced to move on with just two months notice since no-fault evictions are the reality.
There are also what I term ‘just in case notices.’ Letting agents issue notice to quit but try their luck when asking for a rent rise whilst advertising the property (which remember is the occupant’s home). If nobody bites, then they’ve covered all bases; if the renter refuses the increase, they could stay... or they could be forced to go. It’s horribly undermining.
We have revenge evictions, where even the most polite and diplomatic request for vital repairs is met with a notice to quit and no work done.
Then there’s wrecked furniture, broken locks, shoddy fittings and white goods, wrecked relics placed on the inventory, vermin and flooded ceilings. There are tenants who know if they attempt their own temporary or permanent fix, they could (and yes - oh ye cynics – this happens) face deposit deductions for mobilising their own vital remedial work.
Yes, the minority are ecstatically happy, the middle rump are in a sort of Stockholm syndrome of gratitude for even borderline contentment and the remainder live in sheds and hovels.
So yes – renting really is that bad. We should all be appalled.