The patronising interviewer, who is a landlord, demonstrated the contempt with which many landlords view renters, writes Kirsty Archer, a member of London Renters Union
On Monday I had the weird experience of going viral on Twitter after an altercation with a Sky News journalist. Following the governments announced plans to scrap section 21 eviction notices, I was invited on to Sky News to talk about the time I was served such a notice in February. I made a complaint about the serious disrepair in the flat I have been renting with a friend since August. We now have to get out by the end of the this month.
As it stands, section 21 gives landlords huge power over our lives and discourages renters from making complaints or requesting repairs, for fear of section 21 revenge evictions. Since 2015, around 140,000 other tenants have been victims of revenge evictions making section 21 the leading cause of homelessness in England, displacing huge numbers of working people and migrants from their communities each year.
I wanted to use the interview to talk about the very real emotional and economic toll that these evictions have had on me and other renters.
I prepared what I wanted to say and, having been invited on, at least expected a chance to get my point across. The problem? The interviewer, Jayne Secker, who is a landlord, patronised me and demonstrated the contempt with which many landlords view renters.
As soon as I started explaining my situation, she interrupted to minimise the impact my housing situation is having on me: Yeah, thats just the housing market, isnt it? she said. She then went on to tell a bizarre story about tenants shes rented to that dont know how to change a lightbulb and asked me: Do you think youve found that you arent equipped with all the necessary skills to rent?
The idea that I am somehow responsible for being evicted from my home because I dont have the necessary skills to rent is deeply patronising.
What makes this painful is that, like many renters left in such a precarious position, since receiving the eviction notice I have experienced increased levels of stress and anxiety. I should know about the profound relationship between mental health and housing since I work for the charity Rethink Mental Illness; in fact, I cant help but think how lucky I am that I am not experiencing more severe mental health issues because of the kind of damage sudden homelessness can cause.
Secker shone a light on the mainstream medias poor representation of people from low-income backgrounds.
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