Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/572/7083
Credit crunch hits home
Twenty year old Ashley Jenkins has recently joined the Socialist Party. Here he explains his experiences as a tenant in Gloucester.
I can remember seeing an explosion in buy-to-let mortgages on the news and the many property shows a few years ago. People were encouraged to buy old houses, do them up and rent them out to make a quick buck.
But recently the mortgage market has gone to pot, with repossessions up 194%. The buy-to-let market has been hit particularly hard. And my experience of living in the private-rented sector shows that tenants have hardly any rights when landlords can't keep up with payments. This is my story.
One cold Monday morning I was having a cuppa and a roll-up experience, preparing for the day as usual. There was a knock at the door. Someone was shouting about them being from the council. Me and my housemates usually ignore officials because it means trouble.
I stood on the landing outside my room waiting for them to go away. Next thing I know they're taking the door off. I start panicking and brace myself for a scuffle. Several pairs of feet come trampling up the stairs.
Now there's three council people standing on the landing waving official papers in my face, which they never let me read, with me shouting at them. I was told quite forcefully that I had ten minutes to gather my stuff and get out. I promptly told them where to go, very politely of course. I went to my room and started smoking heavily, trying to think what to bring with me.
About five minutes, three fags and lots of loud Ska music later, the council workers came into my room. I felt very intimidated by them but I stood firm and told them to get out of my room.
Two minutes later I had the police at my door. They came in with the council workers behind them. They turned off my music and rounded on me. I again felt intimidated but didn't want them to know how I felt. I was threatened with arrest if I didn't leave there and then.
The council officials were going from room to room forcing open all the doors of those tenants who were not in. All the locks were being changed. I left in a daze, with a backpack and a carrier bag of clothes.
I had only moved in about a month before, after having been homeless. I felt lost and in need of a stiff drink. A hangover and a few days later I was allowed back in. The day after they let me back in the coppers raided the house and bashed the door off again.
This must be happening up and down the country as the buy-to-let market crashes. Thousands of tenants must be being intimidated out of their houses. Landlords should be made to tell tenants if they can't keep up with payments.
Councils should be making sure that officials and bailiffs stick to codes of practice so that innocent tenants do not face this type of harassment.
In The Socialist 25 March 2009:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news