On Monday of this week, I received news that nobody who rents wants, but everyone fears. My landlord is selling up, and I have to go.
I’m on a training course when this phone call is taking place. I start the conversation about what needs to happen quite stoically, by the end of the call, tears were running down my face, but I was determined not to let on to my landlord. Who knows if I was successful. My team showered me in hugs and words of support, and immediately I had people asking me how they could help.
I posted news of my woes on Facebook – I’m a 30 something in the 21st Century, of course I posted it on Facebook! The outpouring of support, and offers of practical help have been completely overwhelming. I’ve spent a lot of my adult life in very isolated social circles, and when I separated (amicably) from my husband, I initially became more isolated still. My horrendous mental health issues (still working on them, but doing a pretty damn good job) and my innate introversion made connecting with people at that time (May 2014) almost impossible. I’d become a full-time carer to the boys (due to special needs), had a brilliant best friend, but not much else by way of friends, and an intense fear of going out to do things. I also wanted to die. A lot.
Over the past few years my support network has grown exponentially, and this current crisis has demonstrated this by the gallon! I’ve had so many people offer a roof over my head if I don’t find somewhere to rent before I must move out, and I’ve had more than one offer to be a guarantor. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has asked how they can help, and I’ve had countless people say they’re happy to shift boxes when the time comes.
The problem is, regardless of my income, and the fact I’m a pretty decent and clean person (well, since reading the book “How to Unfuck Your Habitat”) landlords fear me. You see, I’m on housing benefit. *Cue sinister music*
I have been looking for two days (not long I know, but ye gods, I don’t have much time), and in that time I’ve been interested in about 9 properties, had 5 rejections before I even stepped foot through the door, 1 viewing which I liked but the agent isn’t sure the landlord will accept me, and the rest haven’t come back to me. I have more than enough money to pay, I have almost three years of rental payments and six years of mortgage payments to prove that I can pay on time without defaulting, AND the ability to secure a guarantor. This, however, isn’t enough for the “elitist Tory bastards” (Jones, B, 2017). This is making the whole process unbelievably stressful.
I have had mental health issues on and off for the majority of my life, and am very black in white in my thinking (even though not everybody sees this). Due to this, my brain hasn’t got appropriate disaster reaction transmitters. I keep getting brain flashes of suicidal ideation, as this is how I’ve dealt with crises in the past (whilst this sounds flippant, if you read my blog posts from 2014/15, you’ll see this was no laughing matter). I can immediately have a word with myself now, and know that it’s just because I need to build new pathways. This will do that – eventually.
If this crisis had landed a year ago, there is a strong possibility I wouldn’t be here. The reason I have come so far is not, contrary to what my close friends say, because I’m superwoman. It’s because of the people I have in my life right now.
To the mums on the school run who I’m now confident to speak to, and all the people who I’ve met through my wonderful best friend: thank you, each and every one of you. I may be facing homelessness due to the housing crisis, and landlord’s inability to open their minds to the possibility that people on benefits are capable of paying for and maintaining a property, but I’m definitely not facing it alone.