What starts with “E” and ends in homelessness?

Eviction is one of those words that you’ve heard your whole life, like bankruptcy or jail but never in your darkest, cheese-induced dreams did you ever think you might face yourself.  It’s a “grown-up” word, a word whispered in corners or highlighted in a seedy documentary.

I certainly never considered for a moment that it would ever be a word to cause ME sleepless nights and heart-thumping panic.  That was until I lost my job. Many of you are aware that I’ve had on-going medical issues over the past year, you may not know that I was “let-go” in November.  It was very quick and painless, without  fuss or ceremony, just a P45 dropping quietly onto my doormat.

Nothing to be alarmed about, we have systems in place to help the unemployed of Britain don’t we?  Yes we do and I am so grateful for them, I am a lot worse off financially now than when I was receiving the minimum sick pay from my employer but I knew that with adjustments we had enough money to live on and a roof over our heads.

Then my Landlord gave me notice.  Not a worry, I began looking for another house and found one in my village almost immediately.  Then came the bombshell that made the “Eviction” word a part of my world.  Since the government announced their planned Welfare Reforms, Letting agents will no longer rent properties to Housing Benefits claimants.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Who claims Housing Benefit ?  Single parents, lower-paid workers, mature students, pensioners, unemployed and the disabled.

Putting aside the others as this post is for the Broken Of  Britain, Housing Benefit is claimed by the disabled who are unable to work due to their disabilities or who are in poorly paid employment.  Not only are they already under a lot of financial strain and living in fear of the benefit changes being implemented but now they risk  homelessness as well.

There is a way around the letting problem though, you provide a guarantor for the letting agency.. at double the usual referencing cost and at huge cost to your pride and self-esteem. 

But what if you can’t provide or afford a guarantor?  What will happen to these people? Local Housing Association lists in many areas are already so strained they can only allot houses to homeless people.  My dream is to have a LHA house, to be able to afford the rent which would be half (yes HALF) what I am paying now to my private landlord.  The money I am saving in rent would remain in the public purse, rather than filling the fat wallet of my landlord..

One suggestion I have to address Letting Agent’s concerns is for the government to return to the policy of paying Housing Benefit directly to the Landlord, rather than the claimant. Another would be to reassure claimants and Letting Agencies that HB will always be paid to the low-income disabled and ill people of Great Britain and, if it isn’t already, to make it illegal to discriminate against them in this way.

As for me, I lost the village house to a working family but am now in the “referencing” stage of renting another.. My Landlord has filed papers to commence the process but I am keeping EVERYTHING crossed that the “E” word doesn’t soon become my reality.

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7 Comments

  1. I echo what Mr Jelical says Humph. I am gutted that you were let go and that you find yourself in this position.

    An excellent post on a truly depressing topic. I so hope you get the new place and that you don’t have any more uncertainty hanging over you….

    Lesley xx

  2. Firstly I’m so sorry for the position your in H and dearly hope you come through with the house you want (literally everything is crossed for you). As for the Tory government, I have no doubts as to who they represent and it it is not the weak or poor. Despite any campaign rhetoric or weasel words they represent the bosses, the rich, the upper classes. Unfortunately people seem to have forgotten the dire mess the country was in after 18 years of Tory rule, I’m afraid their memory will soon be jolted.

  3. An interesting and though provoking piece about the state of the rental market in the UK.

    I am saddened to hear you find yourself in this position.

    Paul

    • Thanks Paul, this is part of (hopefully) a series I am writing for the Broken of Britain’s “One Month Before Heartbreak” awareness month. As I am investigating the letting process, I am coming up against mountains of prejudice and unfairness that hits a wide spectrum of potential tenants. Something needs to be done, and fast!

      • As a person that was renting in the UK before I came to Switzerland, I have also had difficulties securing a property.

        As a contractor with no “employer” other than myself, one agency wanted a parent to be “guarantee” for me. I am forty effing three.

        It took a lot of arguing and the appearance of 3 years bank statements to “convince” the agency I was a safe bet. I was only able to be so forceful because I could walk away.

        I fully understand that is a rapidly growing so called underclass that find things like home rental impossibly hard.

  4. No I didn’t reallise that this had happened to you. I am so sorry for the crap state you find yourself in. This government should be thoroughly ashamed of itself but it never will be, it’s members aren’t intelligent enough to understand emotions like compassion and common sense. Besides they have every intention of helping people like your fat landlord while stamping on those they can’t use to serve their own interests. I have my fingers crossed for you – hope it helps. Fiona

    • Thanks Fiona x At least I can use the internet to aid search for housing/help etc, what happens to people who havent got the resources or support, it must be a scary time for them.


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