Mortgages and Housing Crisis

We have a lot of high profile talk at the moment about the #housingcrisis and a lot of amazing people trying to solve the issue of high private rents – encouraging the building of more affordable homes to enable people to work, and enjoy a decent standard of living, without being cripled by rising living costs and stagnant archaic wages.

And so I ask – why are we not making it possible for everybody to enjoy home ownership?  It shoud be based on affordability – or rather what it being paid out in rent, rather than measured by deposit and credit score.  When you have had a difficult financial past the sentence on your credit file is greater than committing a serious crime against another person.

When one suffers adverse credit is it assumed that they do not manage their money well or they are workshy, when that is not the case – the issue is the cost of living v income – I ask any politician or top 10% earner to live on an income on minimum or living wage and pay private rents and be penalised for having to pay everything else monthly too (higher car insurance, higher utilities etc), and to have to pay water rates instead of water usage because they cannot have a meter because they are tenants.  I was paying £80 a month instead of £18 a month (on-line calculated usage) – so the Water Company boss enjoyed a 21million bonus whilst I had to eat bread.

But this is about mortgages – yes there is always a risk but when a mortage company has so much to gain they should be more liable with the risk for the gain – and why is this so important?

I wrote to the Gov about it (as you do) and asked the question – and they responded that it ‘wasn’t in their interest’ to push mortgage companies to offer mortgages without despoit or good credit score – of course it isn’t.  If you build housing you have a guaranteed income for generation after generation of people who are locked out of homebuying.

When you are a tenant you are unable to enjoy a private life, i.e. pets, landscaping, decorating, even hanging pictures on the wall, and more importantly you will pay rent to the day you die.  You will be worried about that months rent as you draw your last breath.  With home ownership you pay for 25/30 years and than you have your own estate, for your children to enjoy, so that they too are not trapped in private rental, social rental or any other rental that pays to the private estate of another or the estate of the Crown.  Granted your estate goes back to the Crown too if you don’t get your will sorted properly but at least home ownership gives you freedom to a private life and light at the end of the tunnel, so that even if you buy when you’re 40 you have the chance of relaxing a little at 65.  Those in rental will not relax at 65, nor 75, nor 85, nor 95.  So of course it’s not in the inerest of the government to make mortages available to all, they want the income for generation after generation.

The simple matter of a deposit, and credit score locks people out of a decent life, for generations.  These people pay somewhere between £600 and £1200 on private rent every month, just because that person could buy a buy to let.   It is not about being workshy, these are hardworking people who could be paying LESS on a mortage, and have light at the end of the tunnel, and, enjoy a private life and give stability to their children.  Who without stability may need to turn to HB.

I’m so ashamed sometimes of how this country works, or doesn’t work, for those less priviledged with security.

I am not anti affordable housing – I am very pro affordable housing – people need to be able to afford to live and if wages aren’t going to double overnight then housing is crucial, but also mortages would go a long way to solving this crisis and moving half of society out of private rented accomodation which absolutely capitalises at the expense of those less fortunate.  Let’s get both sorted please.

 

Update October 2019 – I have recently learned of a £25K Grant available to landlord to help them bring empty properties up to standard to rent out.  Surely that grant could go to people desperate to get on the housing ladder rather than those set to profit at the expense of those in adversity…

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.