Sadly, terribly, terribly confused. So confused in fact that she took the post down, although of course it still exists in RSS streams.
There aren’t many prejudices I’ll admit to, but I will admit to a strong dislike, at times escalating to hatred, of private landlords and letting agents. Not the ordinary family who lets out a room, mind you – though I am dismayed when people who I thought had reasonably benign politics reveal themselves to be landlords. Particularly in high-cost housing areas like Oxford and London the buying up of homes as investments and the inevitable charging of extortionate rents are massive drivers of housing poverty and inequality; how anyone with any conscience can do it and be complicit in the biggest driver of inquality between rich and poor and between young and old in the UK today, I don’t know.
So, I detest landlords. Having moved several times in the last ten years, I’ve met quite a few, and as a councillor I’ve come into contact with a few more. I have recently had cause to look at flats in Oxford again (sigh). Most of the ones I have seen (and I’ve seen twenty or so) have one or more of the following features:
a. No cooker – “you’ll manage with a couple of rings and microwave, won’t you?”
b. No grouting between tiles (how do they stay on the wall?!)
c. A living room that’s actually a corridor
d. Damp looming balefully from the corner of the bedroom
e. Mouldy carpet
f. Enough stale cigarette smoke to develop immediate-onset asthma
g. Three different types of woodchip on one wall, peeling gently
Having walked around another badly-converted depressing draughty half-house, you get back to the hallway and the landlord or agent says cheerfully “So, that’ll be £650 / £675 / £700 / £750 / £800 per month, then, not including bills of course”. I’ve met lots of agents, too, with their refrain “that’ll be £150 non-returnable to stop us showing the place to anyone else, and £50 for keys, and £60 to prepare a tenancy agreement, and £60 to check you out when you leave, oh and we need a cheeky £2000 deposit…”
It really makes you think what little power us poor sods needing to rent somewhere to live have, when agents and landlords know that they can mess us about with such sheer impunity.
What she\’s really complaining about of course is a shortage of private landlords. That\’s why the prices are so high, the agents so extortionate and the goods supplied so shoddy.
Antonia Bance is employed full-time by Oxfam as their Policy and Communications Manager for its UK Poverty Programme, known as UKPP.
Looks like we\’ll be geting some useful policy ideas out of Oxfam then, eh?