I never try to find things to write about in my blogs, I simply post when I am inspired or triggered to post about something I already feel strongly about.
I had a lovely trigger this morning, where a social media post asked a very simple yet desperate question… ‘Does anyone know of any 3 bed houses to rent in Monmouth or surrounding villages that will accept housing benefit please?’
I felt her pain immediately and felt inspired to comment, to re-assure her that she would find somewhere.
Now I have been a homeowner, a landlady, a tenant as part of a married couple, an estate agent, and more recently, a single-mum in receipt of housing benefit without a guarantor, and believe me, the latter is the most hellish of them all (and karma giving me a big slap on the bum!). I have had to fight myself to prove my worth and I know how hard it is.
Now I have been well aware for a very long time that there is bias / discrimination against people who fall under a certain category. A literal ban that does not take any individual circumstances, history, or future into account and it is quite simply wrong in this day and age. As a younger woman I did have preconceptions about who was who and what their worthiness was, and of that I have no choice but to forgive myself, but now I must redeem myself and try to help others.
Equally it is extremely hard to enjoy your private life / your home / and enjoy pets as part of your private life, if you are tenant. Now my personal feelings are, and always have been, that every person should enjoy the same rights and quality of life if they wish to have pets in their family. I have witnessed issues faced by landlords, damage, urine, fleas, and these issues have been awful, but they are very much the minority, and I am afraid I have a black and white view that if you are in the business of building your property portfolio at the expense of others then this should be part of the small risk.
Most tenants with pets are ‘immaculate’, and on regular property visits it would quite often be the case that HB tenants with pets were cleaner and in better timing with their rent than the stereotypical perfect tidy salary 2.4, or just 2.
Nowadays a huge percentage of the population rely on credit to get them by each month (if you are a follower of my blogs you will know that I do not do stats – that’s your homework!). This is no different for those whichever ‘class’ they fall under, we just still keep a stiff upper lip about it. Equality is heavily preached in this country, but in practice the reality is quite the opposite.
Equally the right to a private life and enjoyment of pets is something that seriously needs addressing, people are literally having a lesser quality of life because of the private rental market. The private rental market is blooming because house prices have risen inconsistently with inflation. From buying a house from £7,000, to £45,000 to £200,000 is literally insane, and it needs addressing.
I have been a fly on the wall where hard-working pensioners, with beloved pets, have found it extremely hard to find a rental property, despite a 100% hard working career and immaculate cleanliness. I have witnessed so many painful stories of discrimination and it must stop. Again we are rewarding the rich and penalising the poor (or at least disadvantaged) (see my earlier post).
With respect to the Housing Benefit argument. I understand that there is a percentage of claimants who are HB as a lifestyle / career choice and I can see why this would be upsetting to many, but I urge you to open your mind to the fact that many who need to claim HB do so for a short period in their lives, more than likely 20 years of contributions have preceded the need to claim and 25 / 30 years will proceed it.
The first 20 years of my own adult working life I was earning in the region of £14,000 and I never complained about how my contributions were spent, I understood that we all looked after each other. I was aware that people earning significantly more than I were entitled to approx. £20 per week child benefit but this was never an issue, but as soon as I became a mum in need of a little recoup (to top up the wage, allowing me to be a hands on mum) I was amazed how many people re-categorised me and asked ‘why should we pay for your kid’. Darling my need is short term and my contributions will be paying towards your healthcare at some point and I will not judge you for your lifestyle choices leading up to it.
Another issue we face in England and Wales is that of distant renting. In Scotland you can secure a rental property on-line, down here we can ‘buy’ a property on-line, and secure a rental property on-line, but securing a AST is a big no-no, and that is quite unfeasible for many that relocate to the area.
There are so many issues surrounding tenancies, another being agency fees, they are ridiculous, the most successful agent I know in the region charges £60, and that’s it, there is absolutely no need to charge £100 / £200, remember I have administered it. The rental income comes from the initial fee to the landlord (normally 75% first months rent) and the management fees (normally 10/11% per month). Please can we stop charging these poor people a fortune, to run a couple of references and a credit check.
I may elaborate on here at a later date, but for now, please be pro-active in implementing these much needed changes to this awful discrimination that is so prominent in so called modern society.