Sweet Home Alabama

Sweet Home Alabama

Although I said that I’d write a blog post every day for TS awareness month, I feel compelled to blog again today. I’m feeling quite angered, angered to the extent that my head jerking tic has returned. I’m angry at the system. I’m angry at what successive governments have done over the years with regards to making sure we have a safe, comfortable yet affordable place to live that we can call home. Over the last week our little close of 12 houses has had some major changes, first of all the upsetting death of my very close friend Magpie, and now the eviction of the family who live opposite. Upsettingly they’ve very much become victims of current housing policy, this story goes back quite a long way. It starts back in the day when we lived under Thatcher’s regime and she decided to sell off council houses, as a result of that policy years later we now have an abject scarcity of social housing. Now with the scarcity of social housing (I calculate that I might get a house/flat from the local authority or housing association by the time I retire) the government have positively encouraged people to buy up property for sole purpose of letting out to somebody less well off. Apart from the obvious side effect of pricing many first time buyers out of the market it means that us folk that are less well off (ticcers like myself and my neighbours) are forced into the jaws of the private landlord. Landlords come in all shapes and sizes but the vast majority of them are landlords because they like to make a fast buck or two. This particular type of landlord has become pretty endemic up and down the UK, this one in particular apparently owns approximately 50 houses in our village, most of them are let to people with children such as my neighbours, many of these tenants rely on housing benefit. This family have been living here for 2 years now, and their second eldest child (aged 9) suffers from severe asthma, he has been hospitalised several times due to his asthma which has been worsened due to the effects of damp. Apart from refusing to remedy the damp problem (in lounge and children’s bedrooms) he has never serviced their central heating/water boiler, which is ILLIGAL! After much heated debate an eviction notice was served and now they’re packing their car with their belongings and 4 children off to stay with family until they find a new place to live.

One of the most noticeable differences between the social landlord and the private landlord are the types of tenancy agreements, with the private landlord you sign a new contract every 6 months or if you’re lucky 12 months, I’m quite lucky in the fact that I’ve lived in the same house for 8 years and rented the house via letting agency, luckily at the time when I signed my first contract I was still teaching, had I been unemployed I wouldn’t have been granted this house, If my landlord suddenly decided that he wanted me out , I would find it very difficult as an unemployed person claiming housing benefit to find house that is in reasonable order. One of the major disadvantages of these short term tenancy agreements is that if a tenant has children who attend a local school, having to move could possibly mean the child has to move to a new school (their third child aged 8 has had to move to new school due to this eviction) This government policy that forces many people on low incomes into the private sector is highly detrimental to the children of these families that find themselves being up-rooted because of some landlords whim. Houses which are big enough to accommodate larger families are very difficult to find within the private sector at an affordable price.

Although this isn’t strictly a TS issue it affects anybody who is on a low income and rents in the private sector. Please take a look at the links below, sign the petitions, something needs to be done about the way some private landlords conduct their business.

facebook.com/ShelterUK?sk=a...

england.shelter.org.uk/

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