Monday, 12 May 2014
Scared To Leave.
The many negative effects of renting are well known and often shared hereabouts. Firstly, there’s the constant insecurity, then the ever present threat of revenge evictions or being given no fault notice, and the possibility of uncontrolled rent increases.
But here’s a new fear: the abject fear of leaving.
Some time ago my friend landed in renting clover. He found a reasonable (ie fairly priced) one-bed home (for some reason, they’re rare around these parts) which is let by a friendly, lovely, supportive professional rentier. The flat is unfurnished, which allows him to select his own furniture and make the place more like a home. He’s been allowed to decorate to his own taste (the owner will paint it when he re-lets it, as used to be the case…) It’s also insulated, warm, well-located and the neighbours are nice.
It sounds perfect. So what’s the problem?
Well, he’s been offered an amazing, life enhancing work opportunity. Not permanent, not much more pay, but it would entail moving for a while. So he’d need to give up his valued, desirable rented home (he can’t sublet – he’s asked.)
This also means that on his return, he’d need to go back ‘out there’, back into the badlands, stumbling through the jungle to find another place to live, that is another home that’s just as nice. Which he knows will be impossible.
Much is claimed for the positive side of renting; the freedom that being a perpetual tenant allows. Life is purportedly flexible, fun loving and free. The sense of liberty is supposed to enable moving on when required; to take advantage of opportunities or up sticks if the home doesn’t suit. If only this was true.
In reality, moving around is costly, with letting agencies actively conspiring to hold onto deposits despite their being registered in a scheme, and then there are references from rentier and letting agent who can’t be bothered, are peeved you’ve moved on, or refuse to provide one without being paid (yep – agencies do this.) There’s also storage, vans etc.
If renting was better controlled, if renting was more certain and standards were high, with the rules transparent and efficiently enforced, renting would then be worthy of celebration for the sense of freedom it allows. But quality of varies so much. Buildings are amazing in some places and mostly hovels are found elsewhere.
Instead, my friend faces a debilitating and uncertain future if decides to relocate. He’ll be battling with demonic letting agents and feral rentiers. He will need to sneak under the wire of discrimination (he’s older and self-employed) all the while knowing that wherever he lives next could be the personal fiefdom of a rentier who governs with an iron rule, runs everything on a shoestring and resents the time involved in the business of renting.
This limits life choices for all tenants. People need certainty. Certainty will only happen if standards in the private renting sector are enacted in law, applied and enforced with funded penalty enforcement for transgressions.
Because right now, there’s no such thing as a dream rented home. It’s just a distant, transient luxury.