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.