Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/846/20201
Kris O'Sullivan, Coventry Socialist Students
There is a housing crisis in this country and it's affecting you and me. We don't know each other but we share one thing in common: we both need a roof over our heads.
However, even this basic human requirement is harder and harder to come by. We see extensive council house sell-offs, predatory private landlords, welfare cuts - and meagre government housing quotas not being met. We are ending up with a dangerous cocktail we cannot afford to swallow.
To make things worse, there are now more than 1.5 million families with children at the mercy of private landlords - compared with just 566,000 in 2004. Unlike people who live in social housing, private tenants have little long-term security. Tenancy agreements can last 12 months, or even only six, making it difficult for families to settle in communities and schools.
The average time tenants live in a privately rented home before being forced to move is just three and a half years. Compare this with eleven and a half years in social housing, and more than 17 years for owner-occupiers.
In addition, rents have been rising faster than inflation for some time. In London, private tenants on average pay half their pre-tax income in rent. More and more working people rely on housing benefit due to poverty pay.
And this is not even to mention the growing tragedy of homelessness.
It all adds up to working class people - especially the young and most disadvantaged in society - being priced out of communities and a dignified standard of living. But renters are starting to fight back. Campaigns have sprung up all around the country, defending council homes from sell-off and campaigning for a better deal in private tenancies.
Students are among those exploited. As a student myself, I have seen that struggle can attract people fed up with their situation.
Coventry Socialist Students has been fighting for a student-run letting agency to ensure affordable rents and quality housing. We have also been working to organise a student tenants' union, and disrupting housing fairs to send a clear message to predatory landlords: there is no room for unfair housing.
The housing market is nothing more than a cash cow for the rich. Mortgage lenders leech off owners; most landlords leech off tenants. The Socialist Party stands for a massive programme of council house building, and rent controls in the private sector.
In The Socialist 4 March 2015:
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