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Last week my partner and I filed our notice to leave the property we have been renting for three years. It was a great feeling – we were going to stay with one of his relatives while he finished up his PHD thesis. But then she changed her mind, and so we had to backpedal and reluctantly ask for a retraction to be made. In reaction to this, the letting agency then proceeded to send me an email to inform us that our rent had now been hiked up by a whole ten per cent. I was in shock. We had some savings, but me being a struggling self-employed person, and my partner’s PHD stipend coming to an end within the next month, I had to swallow hard when it came to how we would afford this.
More over, I felt inclined to ask that age-old question – why? Were they going to fit in proper insulation so that we didn’t have to see our breaths during the winter months? Were they going to finally fix the two sets of drawers that had been broken (and pretty much unusable) since before we moved in? Were we finally going to have access to gas in our flat to make winter that little bit more affordable? Whenever I had asked the agency about fixing furnishings they had generally given one of two responses – either it ‘isn’t a priority’ or ‘we’ll have to ask the owner of the property’; the latter was sometimes productive, the former never was.
Lettings agents take the human aspect away from being a landlord, and make things like raising the rent by the merge chump-change-esque £600 a year acceptable.
Letting agencies act as a buffer between the landlord and their unruly tenants, often turning away requests to make living standards a little bit nicer by fixing that table with the wonky legs. They take the human aspect away from being a landlord, and make things like raising the rent by the merge chump-change-esque £600 a year acceptable.
I know very few things about my landlord – I know her name because a couple of years ago, when I was foolish enough to believe I might be able to claim some kind of housing benefit or council tax relief, a form required the name and address of our landlord. The letting agency didn’t want to give it to me. It took a bit of talking them into it, and it didn’t seem like they’d even given me the correct street address, but what I did get was her first name, and that she doesn’t live in Glasgow.
It pains me that I will never know even a little bit more about the person that, over three years, we have paid £16,000 to in rent.
A couple of years ago a man came around to our flat for a valuation because my landlady wanted to re-mortgage it. There could be a number of reasons for this, but one that comes to mind is that she might be expanding her portfolio, as the average landlord owns eight properties (this coming from a BBC article that seems to be slightly biased towards landlords). It pains me that I will never know even a little bit more about the person that, over three years, we have paid £16,000 to in rent.
Something that I will never understand is how it’s so tricky for wannabe first-time buyers to obtain a mortgage, yet seemingly so easy for a landlord with many properties to maintain to re-mortgage and buy more. Aren’t we, in effect, paying the landlords’ mortgages? How does that make sense? And how many times has my elusive landlady visited our tiny 80s build box-flat since she has come to own it?
Maddy is a freelance illustrator who lives in Glasgow. She's recently graduated and is working hard to make ends meet. Self-employed? Read Maddy's experiences here.