Richard’s story

I live in Ashfield with my partner in a 2 and a half bedroom house with a garden. We have a 3 and a half year old, and an 8 month old baby. We’ve been in our current place going on 3 years.

To be honest I haven’t had any disastrous or really problematic landlords while I’ve been in private rental. But I’ve had all of the usual frustrations with getting repairs done, and the problem of never knowing how long you’ll be able to stay in your place. I’ve been renting since around 2000 - so 17 or 18 years.  Most of that was in private rental, but I also lived for around 3 and a half years in a housing co-operative.

It was a lot better living in co-op housing for a few reasons – the main one being you have real security of tenure. It means you can put some work into the place. You have the freedom to do that.

It makes it more of a home when you are confident you can be there long term. You can invest money and energy into making improvements. You really can make it your home if you know that as long as you want to you can stay. We only moved out of co-operative housing because we had our first baby and the flat became too small for us.

I guess now I feel the lack of freedom to make improvements much more strongly than I did when I was younger.  With a family I have more of an interest in trying to make little changes here and there to make the house suit us better -  make it a home. But you just can’t when you’re renting – you never know when you are going to get chucked out. 

Whenever you are renting privately – there is a trade-off between asking for repairs to be done and trying to keep the landlord on side. Every renter goes through that dilemma every time something breaks. You ask yourself, ‘are we asking for too many repairs, are the agents going to get fed up with us –put up the rent up or just kick us out?’

I also feel the lack of security more keenly with having kids. If I was to get kicked out it’s no longer just an inconvenience to move, it’s a huge upheaval. I’d be moving house with a toddler and a young baby.

I feel like we’re limited in where we can move – we have kids in childcare, and we need to be able to live somewhere where their care and our work is accessible. My partner doesn’t drive so we need to be near public transport. But I’d be trying to find somewhere in the local area that is affordable – and that is really hard. I don’t feel confident I’d find anything. The way rents go at the moment, once you’ve been in a place for a couple of years if you move you face a significant jump in rent. I don’t really know what we’d do.