With most landlords refusing to let to the previously homeless, the only way forward is to lie.
Truth and honesty are necessary for a society to function. If you can’t trust your neighbours, or the bank, or your mechanic, then everyone is royally screwed.
We need to be able to have faith in our fellow human beings. When you turn your hard earned cash over to the bank teller, you need to be certain they’re not doing to immediately vanish on a cruise to the Bahamas. You need to be sure than Halfords has actually repaired your brakes before you go hurtling over a cliff. And if there’s an Amazon delivery card shoved through your letterbox, it helps if you can be sure neither the delivery driver nor your neighbours are currently enjoying your new mains powered ‘massage wand.’
The need for honesty in all things is drilled into us from a young age. If you don’t tell the truth now, it will be worse later; Honesty is the best policy. There are so many twee aphorisms about the virtues of truthfulness, that they’re almost too painful to write down.
But what if we told you that honesty isn’t always the best policy, and that lying is often the only way to break out of a vicious cycle and put your life on track.
Naturally, we’re going to tell you neither of those things, but bear them in mind as you read on.
Today, we’re briefly addressing Britain’s homelessness problem, and the fact the only one in five private landlords will let to a person who has experienced homelessness at any point in their lives.
We can see why. Homeless people tend to have problems.Serious problems, often related to drugs, alcohol, poor planning, or other issues which will make them less than ideal tenants. It’s also extremely unlikely they’ll have a steady income.
Let’s imagine for a moment a fictional tenant, yet currently homeless, tenant who has their shit together. They may or may not have had problems in the past, but that’s behind them.
They’re ready to move on, but no-one will take them – not even the rapidly decreasing number of landlords who accept DSS claimants.
What can they put as their current address on the application form? Where are they going to get references?
It’s a vicious circle with no way out.
Except one. Lie.
Everybody knows somebody. Most people have parents, aunts, uncles, school friends. They may not like you well enough to let you actually live at their place, but the chances are that for most people, they’ll be willing to tell a small white lie.
“Yes, she’s been renting our spare bedroom for the last year, and we’ll be kicking her out in two months time. She’s a great tenant.”
It’s an easy lie, and while it probably wouldn’t fool a properly done referencing agency, would probably persuade a fair proportion of Gumtree landlords. And it would dramatically increase a rough sleeper’s chance of scoring permanent accommodation.
It’s a tiny lie.
“I’ve been travelling abroad, and just come back to the UK. I’m on my mates’ couch until I rent this property.”
It’s a minute falsehood. It’s undetectable. It might stop you dying of hypothermia.
Googling, “fake tenant reference,” brings up literally millions of results. Some of those sites are to help landlords spot them, and some are to help would-be tenants to fake it until they make it.
Lying is bad. We don’t like to do it, and we don’t like people who do do it. But sometimes, it’s the only way.
Photo credit: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier