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The hashtag #VentYourRent is trending on Twitter as people expose their ill-treatment by landlords and call for better protections and an end to the housing crisis that has made them prey to exploitative property owners.
Renting in the UK is to be in an exploitative relationship with a psychopathic narcissist. I should know, I’ve done both.— Phil Knight (@Strummist) November 25, 2019
#VentYourRent - living in east London is great. Until you start sharing your house with mice & rats...And your landlord/agent really couldn’t give less of a fuck if they tried. Are you allowed to buy rats from a shop and put them in your landlords house? pic.twitter.com/hY2AtIqTHr— Owen:) (@owenwillis111) November 25, 2019
I’ve had children fall asleep in lessons because they live in cramped, squalid housing— Holly Rigby (@hollyarigby) November 25, 2019
There are families living in shipping containers which are dangerously cold in winter and hot in summer
This can’t become normal#VentYourRent and then #VoteLabour
The hashtag was started by Generation Rent, an organization that works toward better protections for renters while facilitating networking and campaigning by the renters themselves. Designed to highlight the rental crisis faced by predominantly young and low-income people, the tag has exposed the extent of the problems faced by renters in the UK, as well as specific patterns of maltreatment by landlords.
Landlords who refuse to repair even dangerously unsafe structural problems seem terrifyingly common.
I still have a hole in my ceiling after 4 years been booked to be fixed numerous times and also been told they will charge me for the privilege of them fixing it but also fixing it yourself is an issue with them aswell this is housing association property 🤬— REALMRSOPINIONATED (@MRSREALOPINIONS) November 25, 2019
have to wear a breathing mask in my livingroom to clear it out because after 8 months of living in a flat with damp that turned to mould neither me or louis can breathe properly (he has asthma) and all of us including the cat have come up in rashes #VentYourRent pic.twitter.com/G6cdvwx1Eh— mikala (@kardashoon) November 25, 2019
i lived in a tiny room for 3 years with no heating or hot water for most of that time and when you flushed the toilet water poured out the pipe and came through the communal ceiling (got the Environmental Health folk to come but they didn't make the landlord fix it) #VentYourRent https://t.co/nLHDH1Ch9v— Sarah 🇪🇺🌹Schrödinger's socialist (@sazmeister88) November 25, 2019
ha ha yeah I had that too. Not as bad as you but we kept getting mould and were essentially told "it's your fault, open the windows more." Bull...fucking....shit— Christin Prüstel (@chpru) November 25, 2019
#VentYourRent— QueenintheNørth (@Queen_int_North) November 25, 2019
Serious ongoing issues with mould with bathroom & kitchen. 6 months after complaining about collapsing kitchen ceiling (on the right) and nothing has been done. pic.twitter.com/hCEUX7lhjy
Likewise, people shared other safety violations, like an absence of fire alarms or telling a renter in a flat with a carbon monoxide leak just to “sleep with the windows open.”
I've been evicted for making a complaint about moldy walls.— Elizabeth Pascoe (@ElizabethPasco6) November 25, 2019
I lived in a house that had no hot water, heating, or fire alarm for 3 months. It was winter.
The only landlords concerned about rent controls are the shit ones. #VentYourRent #VoteLabour
Our ceiling has fallen in twice, the first time not repaired for months (no rent reduction), I’ve had to heating in my bedroom for 2 years, black mould through the house, no fire alarms/carbon monoxide detectors, broken washing machine! It goes on and on... #VentYourRent 🤩🤩— Kirsty✨ (@kirstyneilx) November 25, 2019
Less essential—though still entirely necessary —repairs are also being put off or avoided entirely by landlords. Rats in the fridge will at least kill you more slowly than a carbon monoxide leak, but they’re far from frivolous.
Renting is infuriatingly infantilising.— Santa (baby) Yoda (@GreenBabyJedi) November 25, 2019
I've vivid memories of having to *beg* landlords to replace worn out or damaged items, from badly installed/made blinds that fell apart after a week of use to bath panels that repeatedly rotted due to the mouldy bathroom.#ventyourrent
£650pcm - Fridge freezer in my bedroom (no plugs in kitchen) kitchen cupboards unfit to store food or cooking stuff in (mold, silver fish), no hot water for 2 months 'You no like, you move', leaking toilet - fined £250 on leaving for 'hair in the carpet'. #VentYourRent— WitchFix Podcast (@witchfix) November 25, 2019
My friend's fridge. The hole was made by a rat. Yes. A rat ate through her fridge. And the landlord neither replaced the fridge nor dealt with the rat infestation. #VentYourRent pic.twitter.com/i4KsIkMArU— Danielle Friel (@dinorwicport) November 25, 2019
And people have actually been evicted for making the repairs themselves after their landlords refused.
I got evicted for replacing the cooker in my rental house (out of my own money)— Judi ImWithJezzer Doodlecat🤚 (@JudiDoodlecat) November 25, 2019
It was the third year of not having my kids with me for Christmas dinner due to not having a working oven and being fobbed off by landlord #VentYourRent
Revenge evictions in response to complaints, objections to rent increases or unreasonable behavior from a landlord are an overall problem. As are short notice evictions in general, enabled by Section 21 notices which allow a landlord to give just two months’ notice to their tenants.
After finding out that we had the audacity to call the local environmental health team the landlord gave us an hour to remove our possessions from the house. The landlord then changed the locks. 2/3 #VentYourRent— Paa-Jo (@CecilSagoe) November 25, 2019
Last year a letting agent served a Section 21 on me 'as part of the lease renewal process'. So if I didn't agree with any rent rise, they'd already started the eviction process.— David N (@__David_N_) November 25, 2019
I call that extortion, they called it business. (I've moved since then, all fine now). #VentYourRent
Once I had to leave a tenancy on New Year's Eve as my landlord was selling up. Yay. #VentYourRent— Rose Grayston (@rosegrayston) November 25, 2019
The only room I could find in my price range at the time was a flatshare with a fully-grown actual pig. Her name was Francis, and while I quite liked her she took up A LOT of space.
In my 4 years renting in #London, have been given notice to leave 6 months in to living in my 1st house & 12 months in to living in my 2nd, all because landlords wanted more money. Moving has never been out of choice & lack of security over where you live is unfair #VentYourRent https://t.co/BicbSEVPjN— Emily Fiddy (@emilyfidster) November 25, 2019
Had to leave a house years ago,just before Christmas, because the landlord was getting out of prison ....for attempted murder!Gave us 2 weeks!I had NO idea when I rented the place! Me n my family were almost homeless because we couldn’t find anywhere #VentYourRent— Kitty L (@lucario_kitty) November 25, 2019
Then there are the landlords who just let themselves into the property with no warning whenever they feel like it, or even allow their friends to, as in @6CylinderLTD’s terrifying experience, where three strange men let themselves into her flat for a “property inspection” while she was in the shower.
I once lived in a flat where the landlord had given her mates keys— Six Cylinder Limited (@6CylinderLTD) November 25, 2019
I came out of the shower in a towel as three strange men walked in my front door for a "property inspection"
I ran into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and screamed until they left #ventyourrent
Landlord let himself in day after I put notice in.— #spaceman (@spaceman_jamie) November 25, 2019
(I hadn’t started the clean and repaint yet. I had a month)
He went around every nook and cranny then left me a note. Charges I owed him on top losing the bond £550
He charged me £10 for new oven trays.
And who charge exorbitant amounts for unnecessary cleaning and repairs, or keep peoples’ deposits over it instead.
#VentYourRent this very polite message from our landlord when we refused to let him charge us for a non-existent deep clean. Nothing wrong with being northern thanks very much. Thanks for the opportunity to vent @genrentuk ! pic.twitter.com/iGW4xkoSB9— Emma Cooper (@EmMaCoUK) November 25, 2019
I demanded a copy of invoices for all the work that "had to be done" after I moved out of my last place.— Aporia (@AporiaTheDoe) November 25, 2019
She blocked my number.
In uni, my housemates and I paid for a cleaner to do a deep clean at the end of our tenancy (it was not compulsory).— Sophie King (@SophieeKing) November 25, 2019
However we all had a substantial amount deducted from our deposit because the cleaner left a HAND MARK on the bathroom mirror. #VentYourRent
I was charged £60 to clean a single spiderweb behind a bookshelf.— Sarah Cant (@sarahcanreally) November 25, 2019
The same flat had flooded 2 weeks before we were due to move in and they never told us.
A pipe leaked 6 months later and we were forced to take up the entire concrete floor.#VentYourRent
Labour and the Liberal Democrats hopped onto the tag.
The #VentYourRent campaign clearly highlights the national housing crisis we’re facing.— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) November 25, 2019
Liberal Democrats will tackle rogue landlords and provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30. Learn more 👇https://t.co/2QuWhk2Cat
#VentYourRent shows just how bad the housing crisis is. This is why Labour will give renters more rights, stop unfair evictions, make sure housing is decent and cap rents in the private sector. #VoteLabourhttps://t.co/hviLQzXNU5 pic.twitter.com/nQHKyYVzFb— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) November 25, 2019
Though the Conservative party are conspicuously absent.
No response from the @Conservatives yet— Generation Rent (@genrentuk) November 25, 2019
Tying into the other reason that Generation Rent started #VentYourRent today: the deadline for registering to vote in the upcoming general election is tomorrow, and they want to make sure that everyone affected by the rent crisis can take their complaints to the ballot box on Dec. 12.
This is why we're doing #VentYourRent today - tomorrow is the deadline for #RegisterToVote— Generation Rent (@genrentuk) November 25, 2019
Because we renters move around so frequently, we estimate that there are 2.4m at risk of missing out on picking the next governmenthttps://t.co/CCLBC0Z0EE
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org