Peter Rachman would be proud of some of today’s landlords.
Throughout the whole country, young people face huge challenges in building independent, financially secure lives.
The problems facing young people in London are simply incredible, and urgent action is needed to provide decent accommodation for young working people at prices they can afford. The proportion of their post tax incomes that young people in London have to pay for basic accommodation are crippling their ability to live in any meaningful way, without the direct support of their parents or wider family.
The new Channel 4 sitcom – “Crashing” – has been described as the voice of Generation Rent, as it is based on the story of a group of young people who are forced to live together because they just cannot afford to pay the sky-high rents required to have a place of their own. But the TV depiction of the plight of those young people is a rather cosy picture filled with whacky characters and humorous situations, when compared to the misery of paying a great chunk of your monthly post tax salary for a room in a flat.
On top of the intrinsic problems associated with just finding somewhere half decent to live – traipsing around to viewing after viewing, figuring out if you can afford all the bills on top of the rent, dealing with the paperwork, finding someone to share with etc – some London estate agents and property companies are actually charging people £100 just to see a list of available properties.
But even more astonishing than that appalling evidence of the sheer greed of these companies, is the revelation that some landlords have told tenants that they will charge them every time they cook a meal or do their laundry. In one case, a young Cypriot graduate called Gloria Orphanidou, was told by a prospective landlord, who lived in the property she was thinking of renting, that she would be charged £10 every time she had a visitor!
When we deliver Keep the Cash! in schools and colleges we stress the importance to students of the key, life-long relationships for which they must prepare themselves, and which they can never avoid: one of them is their life-long relationship with property.
If you think about it for a moment, we all have a life long relationship with property. We all need a roof over our heads, and we all have to pay, sooner or later, for that roof to a mortgage company, a bank, a housing association, a local authority or a private landlord.
It is shocking that we do not have systematic approach to educating young people about the grave issues they will face once they leave home and have to fund their own accommodation.
For the young people I know who have had to go to London to try and get a job and build a career, because of the shortage of opportunities in other parts of the country, the cost of living in often very basic accommodation is no more than a crippling burden, which stunts their lives at an age when they should be able to begin to appreciate some of the benefits of independent life, and makes it impossible for them to save, or plan for the future.
Financial literacy is not just about explaining what banks do or what credit means, it is a much wider piece of knowledge than that, and the understanding of the role property will play in every young adults life should be at the very heart of it.