Much of my stuff is still boxed up – books, CD’s (yeah, digital music makes this whole lot easier.) I don’t suspect that my rentier, aka Landgirl (as she styles herself) will chuck me out onto the streets soon without warning, but the well-founded insecurity of all long-term renters.
The excellent Edinburgh Private Tenants Action Group have started a campaign for long-term tenancies. I know, I know: I’ve written about this before. Assured (Accursed) Short-term Tenancies (Travesties) mean that tenants have four months grace, after which they can be give two months notice for no clear reason.
EPTAG say: ‘At the moment security of tenure in the private rented sector is very poor, and many tenants don’t feel secure enough to even complain about repairs. The root of many problems for private tenants is in the lack of security, and that is why it is essential to get this changed.’
The ever present threat of being shown the door is a stick to disempower tenants, who have surprisingly few rights. Legal protection can be weak, and with newly enacted Legal Aid cuts, missing in action.
I feel weak repeating this, but renting affects someone’s life, and any rentiers who intend to sell should make this plain. The expectation should prevail that people can stay put for at least five years (on this at least Shelter and I can agree.) Letting for longer periods (that is, decades rather than months) is beneficial to all, rentiers and tenants like, with guaranteed rents paid for guaranteed homes. Simple isn’t it?
No. Rentiers like tenants to stay spooked and unnerved. Bad management mantras seem to include treat ‘em mean to keep ‘em keen (and many people hit this blog after googling their concerns about tenancy agreements being renewed.)
It’s out of step with an increased fondness, indeed fervour, for long-term contracts with everything else; utilities, phones - even gym membership (which are hard to cancel if you are forced to move way.) That’s not to mention school lists, social circles, good neighbours…
Shelter have also highlighted the desirability, or need for longer tenancies in their proposal for stable renting contract. The horror of short term living is widely known, and the only people with any interest in keeping up the practice are (here we go again, once more with feeling…) letting-agents, who coin it in by charging fees, fees and more fees.
Tenants meanwhile live like mice, scurrying around, afraid to ask for repairs, scared to refuse unreasonable visits, unable to decorate. It’s impossible to plan, to budget, to live. The six months cycle; move in, worry, receive notice, then move.
Oh – by the way, Shelter have identified the most common cause of homelessness. It’s the loss of a private rented home, with the accompanying five horsemen of renting apocalypse: retained deposit, no guarantor, failing those new fangled computer ‘affordability assessments,’ or just not enough houses of reasonable prices with a reasonable rentier.
Tenants cling by their fingertips to the speeding rental merry-go-round, but vulnerable people are being thrown off.