So it’s my blog’s birthday. Rentergirl is still here. Now we are seven, and I’m still furious.
I have enough subject matter; in fact there’s plenty. I thought I’d run out of material within a few weeks. Sadly, renting is still mostly terrible, so I’m still here.
Best news first - there are some good things happening. Tenants who were previously just angry are now getting organised, forming action committees, completing and then sharing their own research. This more than anything else fills me with hope.
These tenant advocacy groups are increasingly professional, with EPTAG IN Edinburgh, and Generation Rent countrywide, with groups in London where renting is woeful if not downright harrowing. There is the heinous rent-to-rent, where cowboys promise rentiers they will have no voids in occupation, but then run away with the money from re-renting rooms. Or tenancies auctioned with sealed bids.
Which means that wise politicians pay heed to, or actively court renters, and the wisest will encourage and facilitate voter registration, concerned with tailoring manifesto commitments to reflect not just our needs, but our power.
The dreams of hopeful renters are simple: rent control, security, longer tenancies and an end to revenge evictions. For the first time, I am relatively confident that one, if not everything on that list will be achieved.
Sadly, there are some truly bad things happening. Rising homelessness is one, caused directly by Lib Dem supported (and lest we forget, Labour endorsed) Tory social security cap, which as I write this, is causing even the mythical, iconic ‘hard-working families’ to be frog marched out of London – where the jobs are - to wherever the homes are.
The UK’s PRS is broken, especially in London. People are moved away from where their support – in the form of child care, education, training and part time work, which could lead to full-time work, is located. It’s cruel, pointless and distressing.
Victims have homes but live in isolation, expected to be not simply glad, but speechless with gratitude. Cue clueless Eton mess.
There’s the fact that people accepted as homeless, but when still vulnerable and poor are no longer placed on waiting lists for social housing, but batted right back to the now infamously dysfunctional PRS, prey to evictions and uncontrolled rents.
The bedroom tax I was dreading last year is every bit as bad as we thought. Apparently, those clueless Tories assumed affected tenants would pay and stay, not fight to remain. Blimey. These plebbish povs must be dining on foie gras wrapped in gold leaf. The first evictions, with babes in arms are imminent.
In other news, letting agents still exist. Just. For now. Increasing numbers of online portals will inevitably replace them. The sooner the better, because they’re increasingly brazen.
One small but important victory – the word ‘landlord’ is being rapidly replaced with the less aristocratic ‘rentier.’
There is some cause for more joy. I rent my home from an amazing rentier, or ‘Landgirl,’ as she prefers to be called. I know she reads this, so I’d like to say thank-you. It’s not all bad. Just most of it.