Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Rent Rant

I know people mean well... but sometimes I wonder whether I'm sharing the same planet as all these 'well-meaning' people who have brilliant ideas about temporary accommodation.

While searching for rental properties recently, I came across a webpage that had been set up to collate offers of assistance, discounts & accommodation for earthquake victims. Most of the housing offers were from people who had 'a spare room available'. And just last week, in The Press Property section, the lead article was all about housing options for the recently displaced. The number one idea for temporary accommodation? Empty-nesters with spare rooms who could 'extend the hand of friendship' and 'put someone up' for a while.

Now, I can't speak for others but I know for a fact that after spending the last 20-odd years as an independent adult, bringing up my own children under my roof, with my rules... I've picked up a few quirks (and a cat).

I like my family. I like my own space. I like not having to interact with the outside world at the end of a long day. I wouldn't want to impose myself, my family, our habits (good and bad) or even our food preferences on anyone else. I've also rediscovered how much I like my suburb. Six months of living on the other side of town, learning new driving routes, new traffic choke points, new shops, new rubbish day, new rules.... not to mention rediscovering the 'joys' of being a tenant and answering to a landlord/rental agency... suffice to say, I'm over it.

But I would rather be renting a house than be a guest in a spare room at someone else's house, with their habits and their rules shaping the way I live my life. Maybe I'm being picky... after all, according to the article in The Press, "each family stay may only be for a month or three..."
Excuse me? Duuuude, what planet are you on?

It's been 5 1/2 months since the ground first shook and I still have yet to receive official notification from my insurance company that my house will be demolished. Before I can start building a new house, my old one has to go. I have to make about 50,000 different decisions on taps, door handles, room dimensions, colours, treatments, floors, walls, doors, and how best to situate our La San Marco espresso machine in the new kitchen. I've never gone through the house building process before - I've got a lot to learn. However even at this stage, I know this: it sure as f*** ain't gonna be done in a month or three.

We're getting to the end of being in limbo-land... we hope. Here's some fun information: until we get that magic letter from the insurance company we can't access the second round of Red Cross grants, the relocation help for displaced people just like us. Nor will the City Council grant us any rates rebate on the house we can't live in.

The next cheque we get from our insurance company will be our last rental assistance. After that we're on our own, and until our insurance company settles we'll be paying both rent and mortgage. Sure the mortgage is a lot smaller now after the EQC payment, but as soon as we start building our new house that mortgage will surge right back up again. If it's this hard accessing help now, will there be any funds or goodwill left in 6 months time for those who have yet to find themselves in our position?

In the meantime, Gerry drops the odd hint about possible assistance... but how high will the burden of proof be set? If the trends stay the same, they'll be wanting that magical letter of impending demolition that almost none of us have yet. 

Chch earthquake refugees - Stuff.co.nz
Brownlee hints at rent help - RadioNZ

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