Monday, 24 March 2014

Tenants Will Come To A Party.

Now is the time for all good parties to come to the aid of the tenant.

Does anybody out there care? Politicians must wake up to renters, because right now, across the board there is too much empty, extended, obfuscatory rhetoric with several ‘consultation processes’ in progress but no actual help. Tellingly, this year’s budget helped older, richer voters. There’s the clue – voters: people who vote. The consensus is that renters don’t vote and so do not count.

This renders tenants invisible; it’s as if we don’t exist. Some renters move so frequently that the simple act of maintaining their place on the electoral register is a challenge.

The Tories and their Libdem servants legislate for and represent landlords (here the aristocratic term is, I think for once, worth using) but then many MP’s of all parties are rentiers. I doubt they will abandon self-interest and enact laws to end revenge evictions (where tenants are given notice for requesting vital repairs, no matter how necessary.)

Most importantly, we won’t be entitled to longer tenancies; consequently, our insecurity endures.

Tenants are varied. We come from all classes, ages and lifestyles. We’re not simply young people waiting to buy. We are divorced dads who did not stay in the family home. We are single people. We move on short term contracts to wherever the work is. Bankruptcy in the recession caused some owners to lose their house; they now rent homes in penury.

Elsewhere tenants are ‘forced landlords’ unable sell their house, who rent for the freedom to move without a chain. Renters include those in sheltered housing, impoverished bedsit dwellers and those forced out of social housing into the costly, problematic PRS because of the bedroom tax.

My own former landlord was a tenant simultaneously, since he rented his flat to me so that he could complete a work project in a peaceful, rented haven beside the seaside.

Tenants might be students, who could be rich or very poor: from those whose parents buy a home to let to their children and friends for the duration of their studies, to those in rat infested hovels.

Some renters are rich. Really rich. They rent while in the process of moving, having sold their mansions. Others are starving and rent out sheds from those rare but attention-grabbing rogues.

Tenants are old, young, middle-aged and many have children. All have one thing in common – they are shocked by the lack of rights (including price controls) and by being treated as if we don’t matter.

Labour did mention rents in their budget response, so I wonder if they’re slowly noticing the many people housed in the private sector and that potentially we hold real power? The Tories do not care. They believe we do not vote.

Somebody should campaign to encourage renters to join the electoral register and then to vote, speak to us nicely and address our needs. Perhaps then tenants could come to the aid of a political party, by voting for whoever helps them.


Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side RG. Once all the baby boomers cash in their pensions to buy to let then there will be much more choice and downward pressure on rents. Barney from Newington

Rich Tee said...

I look at it this way:

Tenants always outnumber landlords. This is because each landlord has at least one tenant, and some landlords have a lot of tenants.

So if tenants were organised electorally they can simply outvote landlords numerically.

Also, European tenants have more rights than British tenants, and as we move into "ever closer union" with the European Union, it seems inevitable to me that in the long run British tenancy law will have to be brought into line with continental standards.

I've been enjoying the account of a rent strike at the Leeds Citizen blog:

How long before we see this again?

RenterGirl said...

Barney - I don't think that will happen, unless those cash rich boomers 'invest in property' and look what happened last time.

Rich Tea... we envy European tenants - it's not perfect (German social housing is often bad) but in on the continent, renters are not losers.

If tenants did unite, they (we) are so numerous we could inspire true reform. There was a rent strike in Glasgow too. Really inspiring stories. There are moves to erect a statue of Glasgow's Helen Barbour - heroine of the strikes.

Anonymous said...

I think the baby boomers will invest in property as this will allow them to pass their pension pot onto their family whereas if they just bought an annuity the pension pot would die with them. Barney from Newington

Biscuitbum said...

Few people seem to mention the awful spectre of people still renting way past retirement age, paying market rents, with many unable to give up work.

We baby boomers have certainly been the lucky generation. As someone who has never been highly paid, my chances of ever owning, were I a young man today, would be close to zero.

RenterGirl said...

I know - the scourge of the PRS is a perpetual reality. It's not those under 35 who suffer. It's everyone.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. I do wonder however the reasons people do not register to vote. Is it because they do not know how? shows how to register, only takes a month for name to be added.
Even homeless people can vote, though they again may not know this: