Monday, August 8, 2016

People forced to live in garages?

I’ve read and heard so many articles about just how bad the housing crisis is that people are forced to live in garages and emergency accommodation at great expense.  What I haven’t heard is ‘why’.  Oh, I hear that it’s because there is a housing shortage, too many migrants, too many greedy investors, too many houses being sold and so on.  But that doesn’t really answer why some people are in emergency housing and desperate situations, yet others are not.  Am I missing something?  I’m not hearing why people are not still in the houses they were in before things hit the fan.  Contrary to popular myth, most landlords don’t like tenants leaving and needing to find new ones, it’s a sometimes stressful and expensive exercise full of risks for both landlords and tenants. And yet, the myth persists that landlords kick out tenants at a whim and without much notice.  There is more to this story that is not being spoken about.  And why isn’t it?  

I believe there is an unspoken bias in the media which says ‘tenants = good, landlords = bad”.  While I am sure there are plenty of people who are blameless for what life throws at them (most accidents and sickness for instance), I find it hard to believe they make up the majority of people in emergency accommodation.  The questions I want asked in these reports is if they paid their rent on time and in full, if the landlord took them to Tribunal or issued a 14 Day Notice to Remedy some matter.  I bet what we will first hear is a whole lot of complaints about greedy landlords in substandard housing, but if the journalist persists with the question, I believe a lot of those in ‘housing crisis’ ended up there because they didn’t meet their half of the bargain, i.e. they didn’t pay their rent, disturbed the neighbours or other tenants, caused damage or some other big no-no.

How do I know about it?  Because people come to me with their down on their luck stories, and I ask them. I eventually hear that they did something they shouldn’t, or didn’t do something they should.  It always comes back to something within their sphere of control.  Victors or victims seem to differ in that one takes responsibility for their own selves, the other blames the world or their luck.  I believe psychologists refer to the internal or external ‘loci of control’ – what we believe to be guiding our lives.  Is it within us, or without?  If you have ‘bad luck’, why let someone or something else guide your less than optimal fortune?  Surely it’s time to do the steering yourself?

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