Rosie, Parish Assistant at St Chrysostom’s, recently visited a local community gallery in an unusual setting (the photos are from it), she writes:
I am very much a member of what is becoming labelled “generation rent”. At University and since, I’ve done my fair share of shared, dark, squashed, damp, cold shoeboxes, and nightmare landlords who have no real respect for their tenants as human beings. I’ve also been fortunate to have reasonable housing.
Last week I visited, near Church, the Langdale Road Gallery a rented house turned into a gallery and arts project inspired by widespread and rapidly increasing difficulties for those trapped in the cycle of living in poorly managed rented accommodation, but being unable to pay higher rent for something reasonable, never mind save up for a deposit for a mortgage.
So what’s all the fuss about? Why should we care about this? Whether you are (or have been) affected by these issues or not, we still have a duty to care for those who are. Here are a few facts (source: Generation Rent) and my personal thoughts to get started…
Over 150,000 people in Manchester are renting. By 2021, this will make up 65% of the population. So a small number of people own the majority of property. Meanwhile, with an increasing population, the demand for accommodation is rising. However, some landlords get greedy, finding they can get away with charging way beyond what is fair (while spending as little as possible on maintenance etc). People need housing, so they have no choice but to pay whatever it costs… even if they cannot afford it. People are being forced into poverty.
Rental prices are forecast to be rising more than twice as fast as incomes. 30-40% of tenants are having to cut back on food and heating, just to pay their rent. This simply doesn’t add up. How will ordinary people like you and me afford to rent a simple roof over our heads and live with the essentials? Is there any alternative?
It takes over 20 years for the average family to save for a deposit on a mortgage. Meanwhile if rental costs are increasing, this is situation going to get worse? Are we trapped?
Over 40% of homes fail to meet basic health and safety standards. If the cost of rent isn’t debilitating enough, the quality of accommodation is also a serious issue. Damp, infestation, overcrowding, structural faults… does this really sound like modern Britain? Apparently, and shockingly, yes for 40% of homes.
1) Wherever you live… Look closer at your neighbourhood. Try to get a real feel for communities living nearby – what is housing really like? Who lives there? How many people live in the building? Is it well kept? As you walk, pray for those people.
2) Join the campaign for affordable and reasonable living conditions, headed by Generation Rent Manchester. Nationally they work on issues including security of tenure, rent control, mandatory licensing of landlords and lettings agencies, working for increased local authority enforcement of existing housing related legislation.
3) Of course there are good landlords. If you are one, or you know one, share the good practice!