News

Worst Opinion Of the Week: Use Your 'Lunch Savings' to Pay Rent

Imagine trying to pay rent with the money you've "saved" on pasta pots because you've been sacked.
by NEO
24 April 2020, 1:08pm
Girl in block of flats
Photo Credit: Emily Bowler
Welcome to The Worst Take of the Week – a column in which NEO, AKA @MULLET_FAN_NEO, crowns the wildest hot take of the week.

Story: Landlords are refusing tenants' requests for rent relief during coronavirus. Reasonable take: This is why the government should step in to help renters.
Brain rot: "The solution is obvious. Lunch savings should be used to pay rent!" – estate agencies.

There's something eerily pathetic about living in a year you know is a write-off. It's not even summer and 2020 is already destined to be a tiresome gag in all quizzes, TV, films and books hereafter – a future touchstone for how shit things can get. And all we can do is sit around the house and fuck around on Animal Crossing, waiting for it end.

Lockdown is providing us with some unexpected throwbacks, as we all peel the stickers off our webcams to spend the evenings congregating in chatrooms while the police knock about waiting to tip your flagon of cider on the grass and send you home if they catch you down the park. However, all this is desperately shite, and everyone seems pretty keen for things to get back to whatever "normal" was. But as most of us cry out for the former glories of a McDonald's breakfast and second hand smoke, it appears our landlords are experiencing a yearning for something deeper, something bygone, something from the real days of yore...

Recently, more than 100 tenants in a block of flats in east London co-signed a letter to their estate agency, asking that no occupant be evicted during the pandemic and for a 20 percent rent reduction. The 170 flats in Somerford Grove are managed by Tower Quay on behalf of the tenants' corporate landlords, namely: Simpson House 3, Reverie Estates SR Limited and Somerford Assets 3, all of which are majority owned by the Monaco-based British billionaire property developer John Christodoulou (there is no suggestion Christodoulou was made personally aware of the tenants' request, or the agent's response).

This week, their request for relief was turned down for being "unreasonable". Any reduction in income would surely be mitigated by a "reduction in their spending", Tower Quay argued. After highlighting the fact that self-isolation would contribute to an increase of "wear and tear" in properties, "which will be at the cost of the landlord", tenants were asked to use the savings they'll be making on "lunches" and "holidays" to pay the full amount of rent.

Lunch. Savings.

LUNCH. SAVINGS.

Can you imagine trying to pay rent with the "lunch savings" you've accrued from not buying a sweaty pasta pot, a melted Twix and a bottle of Highland Spring three times a week because you've been sacked? Of course, for the people making these types of assessments, a typical workday meal probably looks more like a midday à la carte up The Shard.

Remember when being trapped in a life-long rental situation was the fault of renters choosing to eat something that cost roughly a single pound, like a vegan sausage roll or an avocado? In 2020, that's done with: instead, it's tenants selfishly choosing to "eat lunch" that'll get in the way of them paying their rent in full.

According to one Somerford Grove resident, speaking to the Guardian, Tower Quay refused to negotiate with the tenancy association, but would respond to individual requests of 20 percent reductions in May and June (as long as tenants pay full rent plus 20 percent in July and August). They also wanted to include a clause in that agreement, according to one resident, which said it would be voided if they told "anybody else in the building about it".

In response, a Tower Quay spokesperson said tenants were being treated on an individual basis, as some residents could still pay their rent. "It is also not feasible for a single landlord to simply offer all concessions to all tenants whilst there is no support being offered by the government to landlords to assist this," they added.

There are many parasites in the animal kingdom, but the majority of them bleed their hosts and then leave them to go about their lives. Humankind's rent you a property, then bemoan the fact you're causing "wear and tear" for spending more time in it to avoid something that's trying to kill you, then expect us to sympathise with the plight of the millionaires who employ a working-class handyman to give a skirting board a lick of paint at the end of a tenancy agreement.

Perhaps, for some landlords in the UK, watching from their holiday homes as a deadly plague sweeps its way across the world, there's a newfound sentimentality for medieval feudalism, where all the villeins knew their place and all peasants were expected to give their worldly income to them for having the temerity to exist on their property. Either way, one thing remains certain: no one truly longs for the worst aspects of the past to return quite like the British ruling classes.

Please, just this once, fuck off.

@MULLET_FAN_NEO