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Archive for July, 2014

I am being made homeless. My school is desperate for staff. This post explains how these two facts are related and why a major problem is brewing.

I am single, almost 30, and work in a state school as a science teacher in a middle management role. Not exactly your traditional profile for someone struggling to get by. I earn £33,000 a year, above average for the general workforce (£26,500 according to the ONS) but lower than most graduates and professionals.

Just after Easter my landlord decided to sell my flat, this is a pain for me because this is just too close to the day I have to hand in my notice at work in order to get a new job for September. I had my plan, next time I move I go up North, but because no one bothers telling you their long term plans that was out of the window. I was told the flat was going on the market, and within a week it was on Rightmove, I would have two months to leave from when the place was sold.

I pay £800/mnth rent for a 1 bedroom place on an estate with a colourful (but undeserved) reputation. I run a car, because my school is in the arse-end of nowhere. A newly qualified teacher around these parts earns around £21,000 a year. They cannot afford my rent, but luckily I am climbing that tree and have a bit extra.

The issue isn’t with the excessive rent for me. The issue is with estate agent fees. I have gone through the local pages, Gum tree, Craig’s list and nothing is available. So I have to go through a letting agency. They want £600 in fees. The very people kicking me out of my flat want me to pay them another £600 to move, including £75 referencing fee. A fee they are going to charge me to write themselves a letter. And frankly, I don’t have it. Most people in my situation don’t have that kind of money. This is before we even take into consideration the fees I will be charged for moving out, and the inevitable deductions from my damage deposit (because landlords don’t seem to believe they should have to pay for anything, even if it is blatant wear and tear).

I have to rustle up £1200 in damage deposit, and my previous deposit won’t be released until they have checked this place. That is going to be over a month’s delay. I will need to spend £100 on a van for the day to move, £100 on setting up a new broadband connection.

That is £2000 more or less I need at short notice, all because someone with more money than me is selling up. This doesn’t count that I own no furniture and will need to buy some. If I can’t afford that how is someone earning the national average salary, a full £6k a year less, going to manage it. How about if I had kids or other commitments?

I am not laying on the guilt about how I am being kicked out of the place I call home. Just the fear of not having £2000 at two months’ notice to move. Especially not the month I have to pay my insurance and my tuition fees. I don’t know how I can do this and it’s causing me so much upset. I keep panicking, because I have no idea what to do, or what I can do.

I am not your traditional poor, yet I am unable to live around here. And as a result every school in Oxfordshire has vacancies, because no one else can afford to live here either.

Unfortunately, government is run by those more likely to own the houses than renting them. Increasingly, to get on in politics you need to be in a position where you can work for very little and live in London. Most people can’t manage this, the only way you can is if you have family based in London who are willing to support you or if you have enough money saved that you don’t need to earn a living wage. I have never, and will never be in this situation.

Until the North gets some jobs, or the South gets some houses this situation is not going to improve. We need more social housing, we need to discourage people owning multiply properties and we need to ensure that keyworkers can afford to live in the areas they work, or risk vast swathes of the country having understaffed services.

 

I try to play it fair. I have worked my entire life from the age of 16 and I work hard. I don’t borrow money from people and the only debt I have is my student loan (all £22k of it). I have tried hard to make my way through this world on my own, not cadging off anyone, not thinking that anyone owes me favours. I am proud and independent and it has got me nowhere.

Because ultimately, no matter how hard I work, as long as I live in the south I will never have a place of my own and will always run the risk of the landlord selling up. I can’t stay where I am and I can’t afford to move into my own flat.

It’s not fair, and there is nothing I can do about it.

And the worst thing – I am not even as badly off as most people this happens to.

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