When you rent at the back of your mind there is always a little bell waiting to ring. This is the bell that tells you it is time to leave. Sometimes you ring the bell yourself as you are ready to move on and sometimes the bell is an unmerciful clanging that wakes you with a start like an over enthusiastic alarm clock. Our bell was the latter.
Coming up to our eighth year in our home we were given the news that the landlord was giving us notice to quit. He has his reasons and they are valid reasons however the shock was still tremendous. When the management agent called to give me the heads up I got a rush of blood from my toes to the top of my head that left me lightheaded and with the beginning of a migraine. I am a cautious person about many things including where I live and as such I had checked with the management agent last September to see if our lease would be renewed for another year and I was assured it would be. I relaxed and settled in to the idea that we would not be moving and began to think that we could start adding to our savings and maybe come up with the deposit for a mortgage and hoping that the next time we moved it would be in to a house we owned.
Now I am moving to a lovely, smaller house at an increased rent. This is to be expected in the current market and I am bloody lucky that I found a house in perfect condition in my neighbourhood that we can afford. The search only took three days, I saw a place online and viewed it three days later, as luck would have it my Mum was visiting and, in the reasonable way of mothers, she pointed out the new tiles on the roof, the size of the kitchen, the newness of the appliances when all I could see was this wasn’t my house, it wasn’t the same shape or size and it was a bungalow so there was no stairs.
I am being unabashedly emotional about this move, I love this house. I love every crack, and there are many, I love the giant Holly Tree in the back garden that has been raided every Christmas. I love the overgrown wild rose in the front garden that is laden with rose hips every Autumn. There is a corner of my couch where I can sit with my feet up and a look through the sitting room arch to the dining room and out the back window, it is one of my favourite places to be. During the day I watch the trees that line the back wall and on a dark night I can see the blue light at the top of the Spire on O’ Connell St. This is where I like to read, listen to music, work on my laptop, it is my comfy space and I will miss it.
The house has its faults and our friends like to point them out but it also has character. When we first moved in way back in 2007 this was the house where all our friends would come to hang out. The garden had no grass because of improvised games of extreme Frisbee and ball. In the evenings we would play video games, watch movies or just have a few beers and chat. There was a New Years’ Eve party where it started to snow and everyone who tried to leave had to come back and camp out for the night. This is where our friends have told us they were getting engaged and later that they were having babies. This is the house where we all started to grow up, away from house parties to dinner parties.
When we moved in here Dave’s daughter was ten and still in Primary School now she is 17 and one year away from finishing Secondary school. There has been a lot of joy and some grief in this house. There have been epic rows where I pitied our neighbours and many very happy times where I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
Working through everything I am feeling about this move I keep coming back to one thought and that is how much more horrible this would be if this was our own home and we were losing it because we couldn’t make mortgage payments. How much more wrenching it would be to take children away from their bedrooms and the back gardens they are used to playing in, not because you wanted to move but because the bank was repossessing your house. Having always rented I imagine there is a deep sigh of relief when you close the door of your own home behind you for the first time. You will never have to move again. This is your space to live in how you want, this is where you will make a life and build your family or if you want to live alone this is where you will find your sanctuary. I never really understood how emotionally devastating it must be to lose your home, when I would hear people speak about this I would get caught up in the practicalities of the thing, where would they go, what would repossession mean to their hopes of ever owning a home again. Now all I can think of is the sadness they must feel at having to leave their space.
In turn this makes me very angry at our pretty useless government and banking system which does not seem to be invested in any meaningful way in making sure the population is adequately housed. We are a small nation of less than five million people, it should not be this difficult for the basic needs of the population to be met. From asylum seekers trapped for years in the limbo of direct provision, to elderly people refusing to use their heating in the winter for fear of the gas bill, to people working in good jobs and still unable to move out of their parents houses because they can’t make rent, to the people who live in squalor because the landlords get away with it, to the people who have to leave their homes and move to hostels or the homes of family because they can’t make the mortgage, this government is failing them all.
People waffle on about personal responsibility and I accept that some people made bad choices but the priority for any government should be the wellbeing of the people and adequate housing is essential to the wellbeing of all people. We are a country with a population almost three million less than that of London, the fact that the people in charge can’t manage to run this wee country in an efficient way to the benefit of everyone is just pathetic.