1493358453033 - I’ve been a tenant and a landlord: We all compromise

I’ve been a tenant and a landlord: We all compromise

As a homeowner, landlord and previously a tenant (for 20 years) I see two sides of the same coin.

As a long-term tenant I always looked for a bargain. Cheap as, big as, nice as, close as – that’s the mantra, the way we judge prospective tenancies.

Looking back, sometimes cheap was a compromise, sometimes ‘nice as’ or location was the factor.

Sometimes ‘cheap as’ meant $160 a week for a three-bedroom home, with absolutely dreadful decor, cold and crappy, in a location that we would rather not be, or $620 a week for a four-bedroom home with great decor in a location we wanted.

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We made choices based on what we wanted to spend and, on occasion, we felt we got a great deal. On others, we felt we paid too much and we moved on.

Now as a landlord, we own two flats; one large, but decor is terrible, the other is smaller but nice. We rent the terrible one out at a price the tenant is happy with, and the larger flat is cheaper than the smaller by quite a large margin. We have asked the tenant in the large flat whether he would like us to flash it up, but he does not want to – he’s saving cash and would rather the flat not be redone, in the realisation that market rates are substantially higher on a nicer place, which will mean paying more.

I think what I am getting to is this: no-one wants to pay more than they wish, no one wants a place that is less than ideal. And the compromise is hard. It was the same compromise when we looked for our first home; we wanted more for our money, but had to get realistic. I get it.

I have had friends rent places that are unlivable at a price they could not refuse, and are happy too. They see the long-term advantage. It suits them.

I wonder whether legislation in the future puts pay their personal choice. Will everyone have to live to the community’s “agreed standard” at the agreed “market rate”? I see it as an invasion on personal choice. Should the community have a say in what I decide is good for me? Do I get to decide for myself ?

I know that plenty of people are struggling and housing is terrible for many tenants. But is this really about housing or is it tiny social welfare benefits, low wage economy, unemployment, the high cost of construction?

I feel there is some deflection here. The Government, for instance, was keen to sell off their interests in our power companies and the high cost of power was an issue that arose years ago as the cost to heat a home became unaffordable for many.

Private landlords are not a replacement for social housing, never were, but the Government did not plan building social housing. Does the present and possibly future Government find it preferable to scapegoat landlords rather than deal with the underlying issues?

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