How to answer this simple question when seeking homes to rent: What do you do for living?
In this continuing episode of a series of property themes regarding our campaign about affordable homes for low income people and families, we will be dealing with occupation.
The purpose of this week’s session
The purpose of this week’s session is to work with prospective clients to find a home to rent or to buy. The purpose of this week’s session is NOT to find a job or occupation. Home Relief is a freelance property agent, but NOT an employment agency.
However, as part of our extended home service to low income earners we can provide some leads to our clients or home seekers in terms of opportunities in the areas where their current or future home is or will be.
Occupational opportunities could include the following: paid jobs, volunteering, education and training, apprenticeship, internship etc. These opportunities could be online, offline, paid or unpaid.
Yet, whatever they do as occupation, they have to make sure they are able to cover their rental commitments. In the property jargon, they need to meet the referencing criteria, which is household income should be 2.5 times the annual rent.
Supporting renters in the matter of economic occupation
As you probably know, Home Relief provides all-round residential property services principled by social goals with the aim of reducing housing deprivation for low income people and families.
Our property relief service does not only provide home seekers and buyers with advice to access a home to live, but also help them to help themselves in effectively running their lives.
One of the ways of supporting these people and families to effectively run their lives is helping them to rent or buy a home while encouraging them to be economically active through an economic occupation.
An economic occupation as a means of earning a living
When a solo renter or a family seeking home has an occupation, it means they have a means of earning a living. This could be that they are in one or two of these following situations:
∝ They are an employee or self-employee or starting a business
∝ They are performing a job in exchange for payment that could enable them to cover their property rental costs
∝ They could also be doing voluntary job or internship or on training and education with the expectation this would lead to paid occupation.
In any of the above situations, it means that they are doing something that could enable them to meet the rental requirements or financial tenancy obligations.
Link between occupation and rent payments
Occupation has to be placed here in the context of meeting contractual rent payments.
For example, looking after your own children or caring for a family member at any time is a worthy occupation. But, this kind of occupation may need to be supported by a financial cover (e.g. housing benefit or saving) to pay for your rental obligations from rental point of view.
Yet, people and families on low income may have problems to meet certain levels of rents. Particularly, at this time of the lingering economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and its variants, many people have lost their economic occupation and thus their earning capacity. This is why we are looking into occupation this week.
Why working with low income people and families on occupation matter?
There are several reasons for working with low income people and families around occupation matter. One of these reasons is that occupied and economically active renters and home seekers have more chance to secure and keep their accommodation compared to others.
Low income people and families do not earn enough to meet many of the high asking rents in the property market even during the challenging time of the coronavirus pandemic. They need to demonstrate that they can rent affordable homes. They can only do this if they can improve their income circumstances and meet their rental obligations related to rent payments or mortgage payments for home buyers.
Occupational case studies
To illustrate this better, let’s give you two cases.
1st Case: A resident landlady complaining about a tenant’s lack of economic occupation or mobility
During the pre-COVID-19 time, we came across a case whereby a landlady complained to us and threatened to increase the tenant’s share of payments towards utility bills because the tenant was housebound. This is what this landlady said:
“The tenant I have stays every day in his room. Yet, when he rented the room, the contract was made on the basis that he would be often out to fully work and only coming in the evening to sleep and stay over the weekend. And the rent I agreed with was on this basis”.
This landlady threatened to increase her tenant’s contribution towards the utility bills as she complained about the lack of outdoor occupation from the tenant. However, in the context of the COVID-19 lockdown instruction to stay home, the landlady’s attitude would have been different.
2nd Case: A landlord willing to take benefit claimants with occupation
During the pre-COVID-19 time, we phoned a landlord and asked him whether or not he would consider home seekers claiming housing benefits. This is what he replied:
“I don’t mind letting my property to people or families claiming benefits as long as they can pay deposit and rent in advance, they have suitable references and have some occupation like studying or on training or looking for work or working part time”.
The above cases are self-explanatory about the relevancy of occupation when it comes to seeking to rent or buy a home.
This week’s session is about working with home seekers to improve their applications to be eligible for rent by making their occupation stand out.
This week’s expectations
We hope that at the end of this week’s activity the following will be achieved:
√ Home seekers will be better aware of the place and role of their economic activity in their rental applications
√ The importance that landlords/ladies or their agents can attach to the economic occupation
√ Steps to take to improve home seekers’ economic activity or status
√ What landlords/ladies and their agents are looking for when selecting home seekers’ applications, particularly when it comes to the occupation section
√ The balance between the overall of costs of renting a home (plus the other costs of living) and the total annual earnings (or income) that home seekers may have; and if there is a gap between the two, how they are prepared to address this issue for the life of the tenancy
√ Being on low income should not be considered as a low key as long as home seekers can offer other guaranties as well as can prove they are actively improving their economic status
In the end, this week’s process is about working with home seekers so that they can be able to respond to their prospective landlords/ladies and Home Relief to this simple question: What do you do for living?
To find out how this week’s activity may work for you, please contact Home Relief.
Need help and support about Families, Homes and Occupations
Simply need advice relating to occupation for your application to rent or buy a home, work with Home Relief.
Want to know more about this week’s activity, why not work with Home Relief?
For renters/buyers who have already been in the rental/buying process that involved occupation issues and would like to share their experience, they can still work with us to explore areas of improvement regarding families, homes and occupations.
Looking for an affordable location and home
If you are looking for an affordable location and home, Home Relief is the people dealing with affordable homes you could consider in your property searches and enquiries.