Tory Majority Day 45: Low Standard Private Rental Housing, “My conscience won’t let me let a baby live there”

Things with my landlord came to a head on Thursday to Friday last week when I emailed him a letter about the condition of my flat, coupled with some photos.

Mould Patrol

I’d been putting this off as any contact with him raises my anxiety level to 11 but on Thursday afternoon I thought: “It’s never going to be the right time, I’d better get the ball rolling.”

I wrote a polite and clear email saying what was going wrong and when. I wasn’t angry, aggressive, threatening or legalistic. Julie  agreed with that approach, saying that the legalistic bit would happen further down the line if the email wasn’t responded to in the right way.

“I think your Landlord will respond,” she said.
Mouldpatrol

I could have taken it to the max and rushed around getting letters from my doctor or by calling Shelter or Citizens Advice again but I didn’t. Julie was clear about what I needed to do and in fact it was simple and direct, like she is.

At the end of the email I said: “Living here has become a chore and not a pleasure. It is affecting my health and I’d like to discuss the possibility of moving with you.”

I pressed ‘send’ on the email at roughly 6:15 on Thursday evening and then closed down my email and because anxiety produces spikes of adrenaline in me, I went for a walk in the summer sunshine.MouldJune15ExteriorBathroomWall

I walked around trying not to think about the situation, being what’s called mindful. The sun was glorious, lighting up the plants and gardens and everything was so quiet. Cats wandered about in the early evening sun. I turned my mind to neutral.

I told my mind to stop when the thought: “Ohmygod, I’ve got to hang over my computer constantly for the next 24 hours waiting for that email to be replied to..” intruded. I didn’t particularly think anything.

By the time I got home I decided I wouldn’t check my email – bad for my mental well being – and instead I turned my computer off and watched a few things on You Tube.MouldJune6154SkirtingKitchen

The next morning I opened up my emails and there was one from my landlord. I took a very deep breath and opened it. It said:

“It sounds like we need to get your flat back to sort the problems with it. Talk to the office about what other flats are available, we’ve got a few coming up…”

Yup. That was it! I was nonplussed it sounded so easy…..

So, on Friday, I talked to The Office. The Office told me there was a flat for rent that was coming up very near to me. It has GAS central heating ( WOOOOOO !!! ) and is a 1-bed ( YESSSSSSS !!! ) and is tenanted until 18th July.

Housing Benefit mathsMouldJune153SkirtingKitchen

So far so encouraging! The thing is that it’s £125.00 more than my housing benefit is at the moment. Dammit.

For me to be able to afford it, it has to come in under the single person’s Housing Benefit cap in London. My landlord doesn’t know I’m on Housing Benefit, because he is prejudiced against people on benefits, so I took a big risk.

I asked him if he’d be prepared to rent it to me for only £100.00 more a month.

I heard nothing back all day. My heart was in my mouth.Mould June 2015 Living Room Window

Then I took a phone call. The Office told me that yes, my landlord will rent it to me for £100.00 more per month. That does keep it under the single person’s Housing Benefit Cap in my area, just. Or at least what the Housing Benefit Cap is at the moment, before George Osbournes emergency budget announcement on 8th July. 

If he cuts Housing Benefit I’ll be totally and completely stuffed. However I cannot proceed on the basis of a negative outcome like that. I am proceeding on the basis of being positive or ‘things staying the same.’

I’m viewing the flat tonight for the first time. I hope it’s what I need, really I do.

All of this is not what stayed with me about Friday though. What stayed with me was the verbal slip The Office said on the phone to me on Friday:

“Are you sure you want to move?” I reply with a “yes.” {There’s no way I’m staying in this place.}

They answer with: “There’s someone who wants to move into your place. They are a young family. Thing is,” and there’s a pause while they think,” my conscience won’t let me let a baby live there….based on what you’ve said of course.”

But you can an adult? ……

© Lindy 2015 

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