Why are Edinburgh City Council tenants treated as second class citizens?
This week Edinburgh City Council announced that they are to launch a new policy for tackling damp and mould in tenants properties.
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But as a council tenant myself, who has been subject to the council’s comically bad repairs process, it got me wondering how many people have been impacted by the local authorities' failure to act?
I’ve always been proud to be a council house tenant. I believe in the idea of social housing that is affordable, especially for those from working class backgrounds who do not have the benefit of the bank of mum and dad or some other form of inheritance/income.
And to be fair most people used to view social housing this way - that was until Thatcherism took hold of the UK and instigated the doctrine that homes must be used as assets and profit.
Ever since then there has been a shift on how we view council tenants, almost as though they are second class citizens, experiencing lower rent handouts and often at times lower quality housing.
I believe that when Benefits Street and the other poverty porn shows graced our television sets that we ended up building up an addiction as a society towards sneering at anyone who uses the state for a service or support.
That sort of mindset can be contagious and slowly but surely the media has continued to spew out bile - whether on TV or in print - that anyone who stays in a council house should be viewed with suspicion.
This view has seeped into the very fabric of our society where now it feels as though the majority of people hold the view that those staying in council homes are practically vermin.
Which at least would act as an explanation as to why the council decides to treat certain tenants with contempt whenever they have an issue that needs resolving.
Clermiston was our dream home. My father still stayed in the area when I moved here with my mother and sister from Wester Hailes. The majority of my friends were here as I continued attending Drumbrae primary - so the house was a huge deal - we often said one of us will die in it.
Although from day one we were met with an issue of mould, leaks and an unsecured back garden.
Over the years my mum went to battle with the council over the mould in the bed rooms, the unsecured back garden and the leak from the bathroom.
Each time the request for help either fell on deaf ears or we had inspectors come out to the property to tell us that there was nothing to be done. At the time of moving to Clermiston I was 10 and my sister 12 - there was a real need for securing the property.
Fast forward to today and I am the lead tenant on the house facing the exact same issues that my mum had to face before me.
I suffer from asthma and often find myself waking up in the middle of the night gasping for breath - the irony is that when I sit up, I look at the giant patch of blackish mould on my bedroom wall.
The damp from the bathroom has spread through into the bedroom and when an inspector came to take a look he diagnosed the problem as my dog sleeping on the floor next to the wall at night.
There was a continued effort to get the council to address the issue, and eventually a tradesman came to tile the bathroom, only he left the tiles loose turning a small leak into a big one.
Since then we have had a waterfall come through our kitchen ceiling whenever someone takes a shower.
As a result I have had several calls with the council who have assured me a contractor will be out to deal with the problem only for them not to show up like some douchebag Twitter date gone wrong.
I know this is common from my work in journalism, where the council says someone will be out to deal with the issue and when you call to query that claim the job has already been marked as ‘completed’ on the system.
Either the council's contractors have the powers of telekinesis to fix issues without ever stepping foot in the property or there is a feeling that council tenants can be brushed aside - after all we are supposedly second class citizens.
But the worst element of all of this for me was being ignored by a council employee who told me that the gate and fence to my garden is not a priority to fix after my partner and I were stalked and abused by a man just weeks ago. A police charge has followed for the individual.
This comes after an incident a couple of months back where a group of youths running from the police in balaclava’s carrying a baseball bat passed through my neighbour and I’s back garden - the only reason they could? There was no gate or fence there.
What would have happened if my nephews had been visiting? My dog had become spooked?
The brushing aside of council tenant concerns has been normalised because we as a society have done nothing to challenge the narrative spouted by the powerful that council tenants are not to be valued as ordinary citizens.
This I fear has passed on to the rest of society - with those who work for the council not exempt.
Thankfully my issue is being resolved but not everyone has the threat of being a journalist behind them and it is not good enough for tenants of the council to be treated this way.