Bias in the Tenant Market – HB or Pets? No thank you.

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.

 

 

 

 

My Formal Graduation – Summarising the Journey        

My journey began when I still a child and tests indicated that I was ‘inadequate’ from a very early age.  Consequently I continued mostly unstimulated through school with the clear message that I should not expect to achieve anything outstanding.  Knowing that I was not one of the intelligent ones gave me little drive to do well in GCSE’s and I just ‘did my time’.

Of course further education seemed pointless and 20 years of solid employment followed feeling like I had well and truly slipped through the net.  Even though I knew I could achieve great things I plodded on fitting into the average and unfulfilling roles fitting for my careers advice.

By the time I was 35 I was depressed and I had struggled so much throughout life basically down to lack of adequate knowledge to enable me to thrive in adulthood.  It was when I fell pregnant, in the knowledge that I would be a single-mum that I was determined not to see my daughter struggle and be the subject of stereotypical poverty that I took a leap of faith in my abilities.

I embarked on a Law Degree with the Open University and I am so glad I did.  The parallel design of the KIH Bed and formation of KIH Products was quite accidental but I had a duty to share the product that I had designed, and to do so in a professional, quality and responsible way.

In the first year of my degree I gave birth, had my home repossessed, my employer sold the business and I was rapidly becoming a stereotypical single mum struggling with adversity but fighting for my life, or at least the life of my child.  The remaining years were spent moving several times due to rejection for ‘normal’ homes subject to status and constantly trying to find the right home, several attempts to secure work that would allow me to be there for my child whilst enabling me to earn enough not to recoup contributions, and building up the business whilst somehow pinning my eyes open to read law books every time my daughter slept.

Note the repossession came following me seeking advice, from the mortgage company.   I knew I could not afford the mortgage and I also knew that I could not be a responsible landlord without maintenance funds.  I was kindly advised to sign over management to the mortgage company so that they could collect rent and pay maintenance directly from the mortgage account.  They followed legal procedure and at the earliest opportunity they evicted my tenant (no rent arrears) and repossessed the house.  I battled arbitration whilst studying et al but they knew what they were doing.  My 10 years and £60K investment was gone in a flash and they sold at a loss leaving me with a deficit I am still liable for to this day.

So despite the pressures of legal battles, business building, house moves, desperately seeking the sanctuary of work around my daughter and many other difficulties thrown in I successfully completed my Law Degree.

Now, as a single-mum, a multi-award-winning entrepreneur (supporting the UK economy and at least 5 UK businesses with every single UK and overseas order), a Law Graduate, and with the confidence and knowledge that I should have had 25 years ago I will continue to rebuild our stability and I will make sure that my daughter is as adequately prepared as possible.

My only aim now is to help, inspire and advise others via whichever mediums possible.

For a country who claims to promote equality, to then measure intelligence and segregate human beings at such a tender age, delivering a very strong, profoundly damaging message is beyond my comprehension.  I used to think that I let the school down, but I can now safely say that it was the school system, not recognising the intelligent, kind, entrepreneurial diamond that stood before them, that let me down.

I have mentioned in my previous blog that Law should be on the National Curriculum, and that every child regardless of status or tests should be entitled to an EQUAL education.  We do not celebrate diversity in children, we try to mould them and make sure that they are far from educated equally, at the earliest given opportunity.

I re-quote:

The National curriculum in England framework gives that and I quote:

Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based* and which:

  • promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society
  • prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life

source 6/10/16: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-framework-for-key-stages-1-to-4/the-national-curriculum-in-england-framework-for-key-stages-1-to-4

If you have struggled with any of the issues contained within this blog and you feel that you need help catapulting yourself forward my small 20 tip book may help you: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Happiness-Freeing-Your-Spirit-ebook/dp/B01M4KBOA3/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479177659&sr=8-1&keywords=finding+happiness+and+freeing

If you cannot afford it e-mail me and I will send you a free pdf.