How You Can Be Homeless Without Being Poor

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the new housing crisis in the UK. Too many people, not enough houses. I discussed my struggles to find a suitable home, as well as the extortionate fee’s estate agents were forcing renter’s to pay just to get into a house.

Well, things have since gotten worse. I have been told that I must pay between £250-£300 (around $400) reservation fee just to be allowed to submit an application for an apartment. That fee would be non-refundable. I have been told I cannot live somewhere because I am married. I’ve been rejected because I’m working and because someone deemed that I don’t work enough. I’ve been rejected because I’m not a student.

After multiple phone calls to multiple different agents, I stopped even getting the opportunity to view houses (the only reason I could assume was because they could hear my American accent and they thought a foreigner was a dangerous renter). So, I had my partner start making the calls. We were able to get 3 viewings, but none of them panned out. I have been able to physically see 5 properties, but I would estimate we have likely called at least 10 different agencies, and been told no by every single one.

Why? As I mentioned, some agents only wanted to rent to students or working professionals, but not both. (I work, my partner just submitted a PhD) Some wouldn’t allow 6 month leases. But most, decided that we didn’t have enough money, without viewing our financials. Agents heard: part-time work + student and assumed that we couldn’t afford anything.

How insulting is that? I might only work part-time, but my job at a top university daycare/nursery is extremely well paid. Furthermore, we have a large amount of savings. We have enough cash in pocket to pay for a six month lease up front if we needed to! However, because our money doesn’t come in they typical month to month way, agents presumed that meant we had nothing.

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All of this means that I have more than enough money to pay for a multi-bedroom house or flat in cash, but no one will rent to me. I’ve been searching and trying for over a month and I have had every door slammed in my face. My lease on my current room, in a shared house, was up on September 1st. It is now September 10th. My landlord was generous enough to allow us to stay a few extra days. But in layman’s terms….

I am homeless. 

The one and only reason I am homeless is because of the British housing market. The estate agents have unlimited, unchecked power, that they choose to abuse by denying homes to people that can afford them, and overcharging fee’s to people who can’t. Honestly, the British housing system makes me feel physically sick. I can truly say that if I had the $$ in America, I would be able to rent a house despite my work situation. If the cash is present, that’s enough for landlord’s to go on. After all, who says no to money? Brits do, apparently.

It doesn’t surprise me that many people in the UK are forced to rely on social housing. They can’t afford the fee’s, or their income doesn’t meet the over inflated agent requirements, so the only way they get a roof over their head is if the government assists them. Obviously, I can’t use social housing in the UK because I’m a foreigner.

That leaves me without a house. Today, all of my belongings were packed into a car by my partner’s parents, and taken away to their storage barn. I have 1 suitcase of clothing, my toiletries and nothing else. I don’t even have a bed to sleep on. 

All of this is 100% caused by  immoral estate agents who judge without knowing. Estate agents who steal money by charging fee’s and demanding cash just to allow people to submit applications for homes.

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***Since writing this post I have discovered this article that proves my above theory about racism in the British housing market. UK law requires that landlords/estate agents file extra paperwork to verify that a tenant is in the country legally. As most people don’t want to bother with the additional work, they automatically refuse foreigners in favour of Brits to avoid the hassle. I find this practice disgusting and it supports racism.

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