Having recently turned 30, it’s difficult to avoid pausing to consider how different my life has turned out in comparison to my expectations. When I left school for university, I assumed it was the first step on a journey towards a successful and financially rewarding career and no doubt towards becoming a home owner. In short, I figured my life would be much like that of my parents, at least in economic terms.
I certainly didn’t imagine that as my twenties came to an end I’d still be renting a small room in a flat with most of my wordly possessions stored under the bed.
But that’s where I am and it’s not something I foresee changing anytime soon. And my situation is far from unique. The twin effects of a chronic shortage of social housing and the housing ‘boom’ pricing many young people out of the market has contributed to the rapid growth of the private rented sector, which has doubled in size in the last ten years or so.
So if my generation can’t afford to buy our own homes (and for the younger Young Greens reading this, things aren’t looking any better for you), then I guess we’d best try and make renting that little bit more comfortable.
Enter Rent Rights, Patrick Harvie’s new campaign to improve the experience of private renting in Scotland.
As with so many Green campaigns, it is partly inspired by how much better things are done by our neighbours on the continent, where renting isn’t always seen as the booby prize.
In much of Scotland, rents are increasing at a rate well above inflation; in countries such as Germany, rent controls are utilised in some areas to help keep housing affordable.
And while we have little security in our homes due to the standard practice of short assured tenancies, in the Netherlands the typical lease term is indefinite, allowing people to settle down without having to buy their own home.
In short, there’s a lot we could be doing to make renting better and it’s long overdue that Government took action to make it happen.
Visit Rent Rights to read a bit more about how we can improve private renting and please submit your case studies if you’ve been on the receiving end of a dodgy landlord or a letting agent that refused to recognise your rights as a tenant.