. The Terrifying Prospect of Becoming Something You Loathe. | London Progressive Journal
A non-partisan journal of the left.

The Terrifying Prospect of Becoming Something You Loathe.

Tue 29th Nov 2011

Seven years ago I lived with my parents. I had a son aged one and we shared a room. My washing was done for me and my income was my own to spoil my son. I had a decent well paying job in a call at the ill fated Northern Rock , and I studied part time at a local college. Well aware that my parents were pushing 50, and no doubt hadn’t expected to have a third generation under their roof in their golden years, I started the search for a property of my own.

Never in a particularly privileged situation financially, my parents surprised me by having saved enough to be generous in providing a deposit that equalled my annual salary. My father backed me up as a guarantor. I feel almost guilty writing this piece as I am fully aware that the support given to me by my family is far beyond what most parents could afford for their children. Within a month, my son and I had found a small two bedroom house in the local area that suited our needs. At the age of twenty, I was the only one of my peers to own their own home and, until a few months ago when a friend bought her first house at the age of twenty seven, this was still the case.

The houses were cheap and small, and over seven years I have watched the elderly, who originally owned these pit homes, sell up and move to bungalows and other properties. Then the landlords moved in: the properties are ill managed and often the tenants are disruptive having no regard for the street or their neighbours. Crime is rife, there is often fighting and drinking in the streets and numerous visits from police cars and riot vans. All these factors have made this location a far from ideal home for a young family. Space is scarce and the lovely green field that backs onto the property is now off bounds to children due to empty drinks cans, fights and dog mess. Time for a move? My partner asked whether my son and I would like to live with him in his quiet spacious house just up the road. Sounds great.

My partner pays a very reasonable rent for his proterty, since he rents it from a friend. If I continue to run my mortgage alongside, we would be left with very little. I’m stuck. One option would be to rent out my place, further contributing to the problem of lack of housing for young families and charging more than my monthly mortgage repayments for someone to live here (add on insurances and letting fees and you’ll see why 'fair' rent is impossible). I could not leave it empty: that would be a crime given the number of homeless and struggling first time buyers. If I sell, I’ll get a low figure that won’t pay off the mortgage and will result in a landlord milking someone dry for a property worth far less per calendar month than the rental payment, and this may result in the street having yet another problem tenant. No first time buyer would pay to live here and I doubt many could afford to.

The unwillingness of mortgage companies to lend to those like me is trapping people in homes that they have long outgrown. I have never missed a mortgage payment, but if I redeem my mortgage they’ll never let me take out another one. My father has since passed away and my chances of getting a mortgage without him are laughable. My mortgage company kindly informed me that as my mortgage is so small they don’t want to do business with me. Hence I am being stuck on their standard variable rate. (They refused me a new rate when the old one ran out and mortgage fees prohibited me from moving lender). Selling will no doubt result in me never being allowed back on the property ladder again.

Before this situation, I regarded landlords as one of the causes of the problems facing the housing market. Unproductive economy at it’s worst: do nothing, get paid, use profit to increase portfolio, repeat, retire at 50. So do I join them, live with my partner and my guilt? Or sell my one asset, the nest egg which I assumed would pay for my sons education, should he be lucky enough to go to university, and know I’ve done the right thing?

Deborah is a single mother living in the North East of England. She works two jobs and is studying for a BSc via the Open University.
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