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Opinion

Rent help for the unemployed doesn't extend to those still living at home

A reader writes in about the rent burden placed on the parents of offspring who struggle to find secure employment and a place of their own

key ring in an outstretched hand

When a grown up child is unable to afford keys to their own place, it's the parents who are left to foot the bill. Image: mastersenaiper from Pixabay

Is it not high time the rules pertaining who can get help with rent is changed? When unemployed, people can get help with their rent. Unless they are living with parents, or even any close relation, apparently. Why it’s assumed parents can support a person living with them, who may not be able to afford a ‘fair’ rent, if any at all, is a wrong assumption. More and more adults now, more than ever, cannot afford a place of their own, so still live, or move back in with, their parents. In my own case I am a sole parent, on state pension. With a 33-year-old son living with me. Currently he is employed, but on a short-term contract, which ends at the end of April. He already does not pay the sort of rent a lodger would have to pay to live in a three-bed semi in a rural ‘reasonable’ area, and it is also ‘all in’, including food. He is my son after all.

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Even though he pays a ‘subsidised’ rent currently, when his employment ends, he will not even be able to pay that. That will put a massive strain on my finances. If living elsewhere he would be able to claim rent. I believe that is so landlords don’t lose money. As a parent of offspring still living at home, charging him rent, I am still not classed as a landlord, even though I too cannot afford the loss of the rent. It still costs money to have him living here. Even more so if at home 24/7. Should I throw him out? Adding to the growing army of homeless? And I am sure that’s what happens in many instances, not least because of the social strain of a person living somewhere, who cannot afford to help pay the bills of that home. No, obviously I cannot throw him out, even though I already feel sick, stressed and even a little depressed with the implication of him not being able to pay rent.

The law needs to be changed. Gone are the days where offspring often moved out of the family home before they were 22, so subsidising rent or not even charging them any for a short time was no big deal, and around that age their parents would not have been pensioners! But now they often never move out.

Kevin Lomas

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