The rent you pay for a roof over your head is going through the roof. What would you do?
Young Londoners have hit upon a novel way of tackling this problem.
Fed up with the ever-rising cost of rentals, they have started an online campaign to shame their greedy landlords.
Tenants are scribbling their rent woes on a piece of cardboard, taking a picture of it, and uploading the picture on social media sites like Twitter and Tumblr with the hashtag #VentYourRent.
Twitter has been flooded with these tweets in the last couple of days. They show people holding up banners displaying the rent amount they are paying, their location, and their straight-out-of-a-nightmare living conditions.
The VentYourRent campaign is the brainchild of Generation Rent, a group dedicated to looking after the interests of private tenants. (The very name “Generation Rent” evokes an entire generation of people living on rent and not having a good time of it.)
The campaign has been launched keeping in mind the London mayoral election of May 5. The idea is to create awareness among private renters about the best mayoral options before them, and then encouraging them to vote for a candidate who could actually do something about the housing problem.
The policy manager for Generation Rent, Dan Wilson Craw, explained to the Evening Standard why the VentYourRent campaign mattered in the present electoral context.
“The candidates for Mayor describe London as the greatest city on Earth, but as long as growing numbers of people are paying huge sums to live in squalor, they’ll have a lot of work to do to make that a reality. The hashtag #ventyourrent is unearthing the scale of common problems like damp and mice, all the way up to the most shocking experiences like poisoning, ceilings falling in and bullying landlords and letting agents. When London goes to the polls, the two million renters in this city need to make their voices heard.”
Based on the manifestos released by each mayoral candidate, along with their public comments on various issues, Generation Rent has prepared an infographic comparing the housing policies of all the candidates. Renters can go through this and the rest of the material compiled by Generation Rent and come to an informed decision about whom to vote for. It’s a decision that just may shape the future of affordable housing in London.
According to CityMetric, 2016 is the worst year for renting in London. Rent prices have shot up, leaving low-income renters with very few housing options, creating a scenario wherein the entire middle class may be priced out of the market eventually.
“Teachers are being priced out. Graduates are being priced out. Hell, it looks like the entire middle class might have to leave the city.”
Even with such a dire housing situation staring everyone in the face, the authorities have not really stepped up to the plate. CityMetric has an interesting explanation for this, and it rests on the socio-economic standing of the parties involved.
“[Young] Renters are, by nature, less privileged than older or richer people who own homes, and so their voices aren’t heard so often. It doesn’t help that most of our elected representatives don’t rent, and almost 20 per cent are themselves landlords bringing in at least £10,000 extra a year through renting.”
Now let’s take a look at some of the themes running through the hapless renters’ tweets.
Mold, Mold Everywhere
“Toilet That Leaked Into Kitchen”
The Company of Mice, Bedbugs, And Cockroaches
Fridge-less In Clapham
The Letting Agent Trauma
If you happen to live in a big city, and also pay an astronomical rent for shoddy housing, would you protest about it on Twitter? Do you think it will bring a change?
[Image via Generation Rent UK]