Life

No DSS

You know when people love a certain decade so much that they indulge themselves in it. Live it. Breathe it. Wear the winklepicker shoes and backcomb their hair into beehive submission every morning?

They remind me of letting agents.

Letting agents who love to put a short sentence at the end of ninety nine percent of adverts for rental properties; the sentence that strikes fear into the heart of renters on a low income or those in receipt of full benefits; the words acronym that should have died out with the end of Thatcher; always in bold type the words:

NO DSS

I like to think of them typing out “No DSS” while listening to Spandau Ballet and braiding their hair like Boy George like it was 1983 all over again, because lets face it, how long has it been since we called it the Department of Social Security?

As we all know, NO DSS is shorthand for, “this properly will not be accepting the sort of scumbag who needs help from the government to pay this extortionate rent that the buy to let landlord can achieve. We know about the likes of you, Sonny, and your twenty feral children, rabid pit bulls and tyre free cars that clog up front gardens, jostling for room with a threadbare sofa; we’ve seem the likes of you on Channel 5 and we don’t want you in one of our properties. Off you trot to the workhouse, you feckless layabout.

Renting on a low income gives you no choice. You are treated like a scumbag if you even mention that you claim top up benefits to pay with rent. If a letting agent will even give you the time of day, you are subjected to the humiliation of having to jump through ridiculous hoops.

In my time I have been asked to provide the following in order to be considered to rent a property: A years worth of full bank statements, two employer references, a character reference from ‘someone of standing in the community’, a copy of my teenage sons school report, presumably to check that he isn’t a poor, working class reprobate who sold crack in the school canteen at lunchtime, six months deposit and six months rent up front, to sign a contract saying if we are late with rent just once, that eviction procedures will take place and my favourite of all, a letter from the council stating that they will be responsible for re-homing us if we can’t pay the rent. Oh, how I laughed at that one.

As a private tenant, I have no rights.

I am in this house by the skin of my teeth. I felt like Oliver fucking Twist with my empty bowl while going through the process of trying to rent this over priced, run down house.

I had little choice in what house I could rent, this was the only landlord who was willing to rent to us, after getting his assurances that we weren’t going to start a drugs farm in his loft.

We are great tenants. We look after his house. It was run down and neglected after years of being let to students. We have paid out of our own pockets to decorate, claim back the garden from wilderness and honestly, the landlord should be grateful to us.

But he could give us two months notice at any time and the thought of that hangs over me and keeps me awake at night.

There is no protection. There is no telling if we will get our full deposit back. There is no way of knowing if we would find another property to accept us in those two months and we are not alone. How many thousands of families are in the same position?

Living in the knowledge that any day a letter could arrive giving them notice to leave their home?

It’s a horrendous way to live. No security and for some people, no roots. You don’t want to lay them incase you have to move from your area.

Incase you have to see those words again. No DSS.

photo credit: Lawrence Holmes. XPRO5960-1-2 Victoria Square, Ancoats, Manchester, uk via photopin (license)
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