Monday, 4 February 2013

Can you afford your house!?

It has recently come to my knowledge that there is a change to be made within the council housing system that a lot of council tenants are disagreeing with.

This is the terms that you have to pay rent for any unused bedrooms within your property.

There has been uproar between my Twitter and Facebook feed because of this change, and my main question is why?

Why are you angry that you are being asked to pay for your rent?
Why are you entitled to these extra bedrooms, yet families in need aren't?
Why should you have a 3 bedroom house for the same price as a 1 bedroom flat?

There are SO many questions, that I genuinely do not know where to start.

If you read this blog then you will know that I am in receipt of housing benefit. I won't hide this fact, nor will I hide the fact that I hate having to claim it. I have had more problems with my local council over the past 2 months than I care to count and I wish that I didn't have to deal with it. Unfortunately, my 2 bedroom, 5 roomed house has a rent more than double any council house, therefore I have to claim. My circumstances (the fact I am NOT a single parent) does not allow me to apply for a council house. I have no grounds. Therefore I am stuck in the private renting sector despite not earning enough to belong here. Even when Ross wasn't working and I was claiming Housing Benefit, we still weren't in a desperate enough position to be eligible for council housing, despite paying over £110 in rent whilst on Job Seekers.

So when I see people who are living in a 3 bedroom council house for £300 a month, MOANING that they have to pay for the extra 1 or 2 bedrooms they don't even use, it really pisses me off.

I admit, I can barely afford the house I live in along with housing benefit, but that's not even my issue. My problem is with the fact that these people are keeping these 2-3 bedroomed properties for themselves absolutely FREE of charge, whilst there are single mothers out there living in filthy hostels and shared accomodations with newborn babies and toddlers, because there is no housing available to them.

The main argument for this seems to be that "Well I have Grandchildren come to stay." That doesn't matter. What about the PARENT who has to live in their one bedroom flat with their baby, just because you can't be bothered to provide a blow up/camp bed. How about you have that family come and live with you? Better yet, GIVE that family the housing and bedrooms YOU DON'T NEED.

I'm lucky. Lucky in the sense that since I moved out of my Mums house, I have always been able to afford my rent. Yes, I claim housing benefit to help me, but I live in a house that is far too over priced and am looking to move. This has not always been the case, when we moved out, we could afford to rent and we did for ages. I can't apply for council housing now, because I am not classified as 'in need'.

This just reminds me of those families who are in need. My Mum lived in a 3 bedroom council house along with me, my sister and Ross. When Ross and I moved out, she exchanged to a 2 bedroom, whilst the other family moved into our old house. Someone who needed it. Both of our next door neighbours lived in 3 bedroom houses and there was only ever 1 person living in the houses. Our right hand side neighbour in particular was confined to the downstairs of her house, meaning the 3 bedrooms upstairs were not being used at all. 4 years later, she is still in the same house, as is our other neighbour.

If you are not willing to pay for your 'extra accomodation' which, to be quite frank, is exactly what it is, then move to a smaller and cheaper house.

There are people out there who are far worse off than you. Do you really need those extra bedrooms for the sake of a few family visits? Are you selfish enough to complain because you're having to pay for a room in your house, where 2 or 3 people live, where a family of 5 could quite happily occupy?

Even though I sound down right hypocritical, if you can't afford those extra bedrooms, give them to a family who needs them.

If I was lucky enough to occupy a 3 bedroom council house, then I would quite happily pay the extra rent. Because, between you and me, it's still less than what I pay right now for a 2 bedroom private rented.

The next time you complain "I can't afford it" or "I have Grandchildren that come and visit", spare a thought for EVERYONE else.


Elaine Livingstone said...

I work but am stuck in private rent as there are no houses to be had in this area. I would love to move somewhere cheaper, preferably a small council house I can call my own. Not an overpriced private rent that at any time could be sold by its owner to fund their failing business.
Even to move to a cheaper private rent ( if I could find one) I need a deposit of twice the monthly rent. but whilst living here paying over the odds I cannot afford to save.
This is not something new as when my daughter went off to uni approx 13 years ago and we were on a rent rebate we were not paid for our "empty room" as she was only home for holidays. We could claim for the weeks she was home but not the weeks she was at uni.

Misty B said...

Yeah, no one gets help financially with empty rooms, what I mean is an introduction to charge extra rent on rooms that aren't being lived in. Our council is charging £60 per room per month that isn't inhabited. It does only apply to council houses.
I'm in the exact same situation as you. Paying for a private rented house that is far too expensive for what it is and too difficult to get out of

Emma T said...

Halleluia. Someone talking sense.

I'm lucky in that I've never had to rely on help with paying for housing, but I'm with you as I know a few people who're struggling in the private sector renting or in unsuitable housing them plus a baby because they're no houses with the new room number up because other people who don't need the extra rooms are living in them.

I think if people don't want to pay the rent for the extra rooms, they should either be chucked out/down graded, or forced to take on 'lodgers/extra people who need the accommodation.

Misty B said...

I agree completely. I think tenants should be given the option of 'rent to buy' BUT only if they pay full rent. That way they're not paying for an extra room and they can own their house at the end of it.
I would love a council house but in my area there is such a huge need for them that I'm so far down the list I don't ever stand a chance!

Jess @ CatchaSingleThought said...

The whole rental market drives me bananas. We live in 'quite' a big rented house and were looking to move somewhere with an enclosed garden a few months ago, it would have cost us more to move to a smaller house and what would be the point? I'm not agreeing that people should stay in big council houses who don't need to but I do see why people choose to not move out, it's a total minefield. And I have never understood how they work it out, why are some people allowed to have extra rooms and others aren't? Is it the Council's decision? I'm just thinking of my aunt who has 6 children and every time she's had another child they've upgraded her house (but that's another story) - basically I think the whole system is shot to pieces (private and council) and needs to be established!

Misty B said...

The situation really does need to be controlled. I think years ago wen they had loads of houses, they just put anyone in anywhere. I understand houses are sentimental to some people and I'm not even suggesting they kick them out and force them to private rent, just exchange to a smaller house.
I just think it's cheeky to expect a council to pay for people to live in big houses they don't need whilst still paying for parents and children to live in hostels because there's no houses.

Emily Foran said...

Absolutely!! I know people that stayed in huge 3bed houses in very expensive areas. I can kind of sympathise it was their family home and now the children have moved on but I'm afraid it's a tough world and if you're going to rely on council to subsidise your rent; well then 'beggars can't be choosers' and families have need for those houses!!

Misty B said...

I think you've summarised it up completely with 'beggars can't be choosers'. As much as I feel like a hypocrite for claiming housing benefit myself, I only claim for what I need to survive, not the added bonus of a big house just for the sake of having it. Think the Gvt need to tighten their belts on this one!

Emma Day said...

Where I live, people have always had to pay for extra bedrooms. They have an online calculator which you put in how many people and it tells you how many rooms you are entitled to be paid for. It was like that 7 yrs ago when I claimed HB. I've never had a council house. My rent is VERY expensive, but council houses are like gold dust here.