New flat

I’ve lived in my current flat for four years. I moved here after I split up with my ex-boyfriend. I was very ill, and the got worse, when we split up. I was in a city where I knew no one other than my ex-boyfriend and three hours travelling from the city I had lived before and wanted to move back to. It took me six months to find a new place to live and move into it. I was sleeping in the spare bedroom but was still having sex occasionally with my ex-boyfriend and he was still looking after me because of my illness.

I applied for benefits so I could get enough money to move out: deposit, first month’s rent, maybe a little bit of a cushion in case it took a while for housing benefit to start (had waited five and a half months for it a couple of years before). But I was turned down because they didn’t believe that I’d really split up with my ex-boyfriend and was still living with him ‘as if we were married’. I had stopped seeing the psychiatric services in the new city and stopped all my medication (except for some prn’s around the same time as I’d split up with my ex-boyfriend except for a social worker who tried to help me but said he couldn’t really do anything because I wanted to move to another city. I tried to contact this city’s homeless services but kept getting passed between two departments with both saying they weren’t the department to deal with me and I should contact the other. I stayed with my sister for a few days and she talked to them on the phone and couldn’t work out what to do either. The only suggestion I got was to go into one of the offices and ‘make a scene’ until one of them agreed to deal with me. My sister said she couldn’t come with me (something I still feel bitter about and should really get over or sort out with her). I could barely cope with travelling to see my sister and knew there was no way I was capable of ‘mak[ing] a scene’ so I gave up. Not seeing the psychiatric services or the homeless services while I was so ill and my life was such a disaster probably sounds like an incredily stupid decision but it wasn’t and I’d do it again looking back but my reason are another post.

I was an undischarge bankrupt too with the worst credit rating you can get and I was unemployed with no prospect of being well enough to go back to work any time soon. I felt a lot of shame about that (still do) and couldn’t face telling anyone about it. I thought that I had no chance of renting from a letting agency because I would fail the credit check and had no proof of income; every single one said ‘no DHSS’ or something similar. The DHSS hasn’t fucking existed for over two decades but the meaning was perfectly clear: no benefit scrounging scum. Private ads almost all said ‘no DHSS’ too and it turned out some landlords had access to credit checks too. I didn’t know that I could try to offer a guarantor and pay more month’s rent in advance to avoid the credit check and lack of proof of employment. So I thought I had to lie that I was employed and hope a landlord both believed my lie and didn’t credit check.]

I had pet rats who I wasn’t going to give up. They felt like the only thing I had left. So I need a landlord that didn’t mind pets or wouldn’t inspect too often. It’s actually not that difficult to hide pet rats and I’d done it for years in student accommodation despite having a 5′ by4′ by 3′ cage (happy ratties) for them.

Despite all these reasons/excuses for why I found it so difficult to get a new flat, the main problem was that I couldn’t make myself travel to the city I wanted to move back to and find a new flat. I was totally overwhelmed by my illness and by my situation and was paralysed by shame.

In the end, I only looked at two flats. The first was a nice flat but wanted a credit check. The second, where I live now, isn’t a particularly nice flat and is run down but the landlady didn’t ask for a credit check or proof of employment and didn’t do inspections. She gave me a short, illegal lease that included a clause that I had to fix the flat’s white goods if they broke down and other crap like that. It’s an expensive flat too. But my rats were safe and I was safe and it was done finally. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve realised what a desperate situation I was in and that getting this flat was a huge achievement. I made myself safe again. I got the benefits sorted out and had enough money. Safe safe safe. That six months is definitely near the top in my list of awful experiences.

I orginally planned to stay in this flat for about six months and find a nicer, cheaper flat. Haha-fucking-ha, here I am four years later, mainly due to apathy and shame. I’ve only finally applied to housing associations this year as the thought of explaining my situation to whoever I had to apply to felt impossible. I knew I’d sit in front of the person from the housing association and not be able to stop crying. I asked a couple of people to come with me to the housing associations and they agreed but I never actually made solid plans to go with them.

I hope writing all this is cathartic because I feel like shite now, typing it all out. It’s all pathetic excuses and I should just get a fucking grip and get on with it.

Now I need to make a plan about what I want to do next. I actually have a few options but I can’t work out what I want (which is something I can’t seem to do for anything). So here are my options:

1) stay in my current flat and wait for a ‘nice’ housing association flat

{} advantages:

* I’m safe here and while it’s expensive, I can pay the rent every month without going into debt and still keeping my (small) savings

* avoid the stress and cost of moving especially since I would want to move again into a housing association flat

* new lease is a standard lease from the government and protects my rights and gives me a two month notice period

* could spend this summer being well and building myself up without taking up this time with moving

* could change my mind about a private let later

{} disadvantage:

* most expensive option and has the most uncertainly about being able to afford the rent with the next round of benefit changes

* would spend my time on the waiting list in a flat I don’t like

* will take a long time, probably years

* have to apply to the rest of the housing associations (slacker)

2) stay in my current flat and wait for a multi-storey housing association flat then hope I can move into a ‘nice’ housing association flat

{} advantages:

* my own flat! I could paint and do what I want, have all my own furniture just as I like it

* I’m safe in this flat (god, it makes me cry every time I type safe) and I’d be super-safe in a housing association flat

* could have pet rats again (most common cause of pets ending up in shelters is because people get pets when their lease say ‘no pets’ and the landlord finds out, I’m not risking that again)

* I don’t know for sure how long I would be here but guessing only months

* would probably get a two bedroom flat (which I can afford) because of the severe shortage of one bedroom flats

* could spend this summer being well and building myself up without taking up this time with moving

* could change my mind about a private let later

* could move out of the multi-storey flat if I hated it and back into a private let then reapply to the housing associations

* not worried much about the stigma of living in a multi-storey or about the rumours that there is a lot of ‘trouble’ in them, walked around the building and the area looked nice and green and well maintained

{} disadvantage:

* big assumption that I could tranfer to a new housing association flat though the housing officer did say I could

* guilt of trying to ‘game’ the system by asking to transfer to a new housing association flat

* could be waiting years for a transfer, don’t know if I could apply to other housing associations too but bet I would start again at the bottom of their lists (I could just ask and find out for sure)

* couldn’t have a dog

* could hate being in a multi-storey and find it much more difficult than I thought

* risk of jumping, support worker thought it was a really stupid and risky idea

* housing association might not let me get a multi-storey flat in case I jumped (though think I could have a good chance of persuading them)

3) move into another private let and wait for a housing association flat (pretty much same situation if waiting for a ‘nice’ flat or a multi-storey flat)

{} advantages:

* would be spending my time on the waiting list in a nicer, cheaper flat

* turns out that the standard notice period for a short assured tenacy is two months, not one month, (how did I not know this until last week?! my new lease has this) and I could only consider flats with that notice period

* cheaper rent, could increase my savings and less potential problems with the next round of benefit changes

{} disadvantage:

* don’t know how safe I would be in a new private let

* new private let might be a disaster and I’d have to move again

* don’t know how long I’d have to stay in these new private let(s)

* stress and cost of moving at least once before moving into a housing association flat

* can’t change my mind and come back to my current flat

Is that all my options? It doesn’t look so confusing written down and I’m definitely leaning towards staying in this flat until a multi-storey flat comes up. The housing officer did tell me that getting a housing association flat isn’t supposed to be an ‘aspirational move’. The most important thing is getting my own flat. That would be so good. So fucking good! So safe!

Yep, I think I’ve decided: staying here until a multi-storey flat comes up. I’ll keep on thinking about it and maybe I’ll come up with more reasons. But I think they key things are that I would have my own flat and that I could change my mind about getting a new private let if I wanted to but I couldn’t come back to this flat if I moved to another private let.

Holy fuck, I think I’ve made a decision :o  This so isn’t like me.

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One Response to New flat

  1. alfie says:

    Great Post.thanks for share… looking forward to more.

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