Unaffordable housing: ‘Trapped at home aged 23 and sharing a room with my teenage brother’

Kathleen says moving out is proving impossible

A 23-year-old community carer from Margate says she is trapped at home sharing a bedroom with her teenage brother because finding an affordable property is impossible.

Kathleen Leach says her minimum wage job would not cover rent in the private sector and she is unable to get council accommodation despite being on the waiting list for three years.

The former St George’s student said: “I am sharing a room with my younger brother, who is nearly 16. The main issue is trying to fit all our stuff in the room and sometimes when you come home from work you just want a bit of your own space but it isn’t possible.”

Because Kathleen is assessed as Band C her housing need is rated ‘reasonable preference.’ Those in Bands A and B are assessed as having a higher need.

Kathleen said: “I just want a little, one bedroom place of my own but my banding means I can’t get anywhere even though we are overcrowded.

“We did look at all moving but my dad is 84-years-old which is too old to just pick up and move and we have lived here 19 years.

“My mum and dad have tried everything to help and support me, they tried splitting up the bedroom but it just didn’t work.

“I asked the council what would happen if mum and dad kicked me out but I would just end up homeless.. Our home is managed by Riverside but they couldn’t help either and just said to go on the housing list.

“I have seen housing advice officers but they just say go private and I am not in the financial situation to go private.”

Kathleen says a ward councillor is helping her and trying to get her banding changed due to overcrowding but at the moment staying in the bedroom with her brother seems to be the only option open to her.

Young people trapped in the family home

Thanet council currently has 2,358 households on the social housing waiting list. Of these 434 are people aged between 18-24.

Government statistics released this Summer show nationally that in 2018, one in four young adults (3.4 million) aged 20 to 34 years were living with their parents.

That figure is an increase of 24% over the 10-year period 2008 to 2018.

The government says larger numbers of young adults stay at home for longer due to staying in education and training for longer, formalising relationships and having children at older ages and increased costs in renting or buying a home.

Analysis by the BBC shows young people in Thanet would have to spend 32% of their income to cover rent costs with an average one bedroom flat being around £600pm. Housing organisations suggest the threshold should be 30%.

If a person is aged under 35 and rents from a private landlord, the maximum housing benefit they can receive is the same as the rate they would get for renting a single room in a shared house. This rule is known as the shared accommodation rate. In 2015, the Shared Accommodation Rate was extended from under 25s to under 35s

The shared accommodation rate in Thanet is £65.17 per week. The Local Housing Allowance rate for a one bed flat is £85.64 per week.

According to data from charity Crisis Thanet has zero properties available that would be covered by the shared accommodation allowance.

‘Alternative options’

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Thanet District Council’s Housing Allocation Policy prioritises the accommodation needs of residents on a range of different factors. Individuals and families whose needs are lower than others will find that it takes longer to be offered social housing.  We would advise those in this situation to continue bidding for homes advertised on the Kent Home Choice website. They should also explore other alternative housing options such as private renting.

“Where an individual or family finds themselves having outgrown their current accommodation, or feels that their needs have changed, they should contact the council to discuss options.”

Crisis point

Housing charity Shelter says the country is at crisis point with the cost of private renting sky-rocketing but not providing the homes people need.

The charity is urging people to sign its petition in the run up to the December 12 election demanding government invests in more social housing.

Shelter says: “Investing in social housebuilding is the only way to tackle the root cause of the housing emergency.

“With the number of social houses being built at its lowest for 70 years, homelessness spiralling, and 1.1 million households currently stuck in limbo on the waiting list, it’s clear that our political parties must commit to building a new generation of social homes now.”

 Find the petition here


  1. Only voting for a Labour Government will get the terrible plight of people who have been condemned by the political of austerity choice by the Tories, reversed!

    Brexit is not the priority issue at all – our NHS, Education system, Welfare State and our country’s infrastructure are broken.

    The Tories turning away EU support for the poor was the last straw!

  2. I think that if did not have such high immigration our own children would not be in this situ and it is nothing to do with politics except immigration being far to high.

    • Nothing to do with politics? It has a lot to do with politics! The right to buy no longer exists in Scotland and Wales- why doesn’t Parliament get rid of it in England?

    • Your wrong! Migrant workers pay for their accommodation by working, its because low pay is endemic in the former public services! Anyone on minimum pay should not pay tax!! Margarite Thatcher sold off social housing, and the Tories did not build any more, because private enterprise was going to replace them, yeah, right! Can anyone say what public service the Conservatives have privatised over the years, so their business friends make a profit from our taxes, actually works? Why are public services sold off, including the NHS, so their CEO’s make a profit from our taxes, which they salt away in off shore tax havens (£248bn according to the Observer newspaper 20/10/19, fact!!)

  3. Perhaps we should ask the council, how many properties are rented to immigrants, when, our own people, should come first.

  4. £10 minimum wage per hour is essential to eradicate the problem, plus build more council houses which will be available to local people,

    • Again, you promise people what isn’t currently possible or would take a very long time. Just like everything you say, including the 20mph limits.

  5. Look at all the Labour crud’s jumping up and down !
    These are the same crud’s that left Administration with £14,200,000.00 debt! at TDC.

  6. Robster, we are not talking about TDC we are talking about the decisions/legislation made at a national government level. We all know that incompetence at Thanet District Council knows no political boundaries. The Tories and the Lib Dems and now the DUP have broken Britain. The only party which is ideologically sound and truly represents the majority of the people in this country is Labour. So until you understand that I’d keep your crud comments to yourself.

  7. And Payne and Tripod your assertions that the problem may be to do with immigrants and immigration especially in the context of the 9 years that the Tories and their coalitions have had the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all including deal with the housing crisis, borders on xenophobia. Are you so blind that you don’t know what the political climate and damage has been to all of us over the last 9 years? It beggars belief that any adult could have such little understanding and is prepared to blame the powerless for problems arising directly from the management of the country by this Government.

  8. The problem with Social Housing, or lack of it, can be laid fair and square at the door of Margaret Thatcher .
    It was she that introduced the “Right to Buy” scheme. The scheme that took almost all social housing away. The scheme that facilited a burgeoning number of buy to let landlords. A scheme that saw countless numbers of families going bankrupt, as they tried to pay mortgages they couldn’t afford.
    The only way to have a realistic supply of affordable social housing is to bring it back into local authority control, and scrap the right to buy.
    Immigrants in social housing? Don’t make me larf. We all know that immigrants are mega rich because of all the benefits they get: they live in posh houses on the North Foreland estate, surely?

  9. A quick look on rightmove and there are 25 out of 31 one bed properties under 600, so the average quoted is a misleading.
    Rents in thanet at the LHA end of the market lag inflation over the last 15 years be about 20%.
    As a landlord 10 years ago half my tenants were those in their mid to late twenties making an independent start in life. Since then the changes to housing benefit age restrictions and freezing of LHA , along with the way the tax credit system works means that none of my current tenants are single and young.

    The system is designed to help those with a partner and kids. Eg

    1 worker part time minimum wage
    Partner at home
    2 kids

    Income on applications will be

    Wages 600pcm
    Tax credits 725 pcm
    local housing allowance 550pcm

    So 1875 take home for a 16 hour week.

    A single person doing exactly the same job and hours will get far less.

    So its no surprise the UK is a very attractive place to come and work for those with few prospects in their home country. Yet these jobs create bo income tax or national insurance , but the country still needs to provide health and education and all the other services .

    Its nothing to do with xenophobia, however many especially the single under 35’s can easily feel they are treated unfairly. Build as fast as you like and you’ll never keep up with demand under such a system and all the part time jobs will never generate a fraction of the wealth required to give everything to everybody.

    The system has become far too complcated and detached from reality, political ideals and grand gestures from neither side will resolve anything.

  10. It doesn’t matter what political party is in power, no party ever solves all of the country’s problems – there have been social / NHS / employment and more problems for as long as I can remember and I am 60!. One party always inherits the unresolved problems of another. If it were easy to resolve all the inequalities and problems, then any government could do it.

    Part of the problem we have today is also that we have become a very ‘cheap’ society. No-one wants to pay higher income tax or more council tax but everyone still wants more services, better education, more police etc etc etc.

    I totally disagree with social housing being sold off – so why didn’t Labour change that when they were last in power?

    I sympathise with Kathleen but I couldn’t afford to live on my own until I was in my late 20s and so I shared until then – initially with 3 others to split the cost of the rent etc and even then was left with very little each month and could only afford to go out one night a month. Even us ‘baby boomers’ had to make sacrifices – it wasn’t all easy for us either!

  11. Her solution would be to live with other people. House share.

    The nations problem with housing needs to be solved by government.

    Anyone know of any parties with policies regarding building social housing? And who have a leader who has spent their fighting for the rights of ordinary people?

    Love how casually people just come out and say hey look at me im a dumb racist!

  12. “so why didn’t Labour change that when they were last in power? ” – now, that’s a really good question. Perhaps any Labour councillors who read IoTN would care to respond?
    “The Right to Buy and associated rights ended in Wales on the 26 January 2019, following the passing of the ‘Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Act 2018.”
    “The ‘Right to Buy’ scheme (which gives tenants the right to buy their rented home at a discounted price) ended for council and housing association tenants in Scotland on 31 July 2016. ”
    It’s a no-brainer.

  13. I would like to have a car but I cannot afford to buy one and pay for insurance and petrol so I have to go by bus.

    I would like to eat beef and lamb but I can only afford to buy chicken and pork.

    I would like to have an internet enabled smart phone but I can only afford one that does calls and texts.

    Why is life so unfair and why does the government not provide me with everything I want ?

        • Unless its a vague reference to a viper pilot in battlestar galactica, i’d guess its short for “baby boomer” that mythical generation who’ve benefitted from a life of bountiful plenty with no effort of their own whilst younger generations toil tirelessly for no return.

          Just a bit of politically driven drivel.

          • Thanks. If the latter,you’re right, Local Chap. It’s tosh, based on ignorance of post-WW2 social history.

  14. There’s a difference between “want” and “need”.
    It is, surely, a lamentable state when use of food banks has increased hugely over the last few years. No doubt the recipients are grateful for a loaf of bread and a tin of beans.
    I’m not quite sure I understand what you’re driving at, John?
    BTW, I used to drive a car, but now I’ve managed to ditch it, and travel by public transport.

  15. The only problem with going by bus (which I do several times a week) is that buses are privately owned and therefore are run for profit rather than being for the benefit of their users. Unprofitable routes are not likely to survive.

  16. The housing list mentioned above is an irreducible list of people that the housing officers cannot plausibly remove in order to make the figures appear reasonable.In order to be accepted on to the housing list, you will have to meet very stringent criteria. If you recall, the published list was 3 times as large a decade ago.What happened since then is the criteria has been tightened up considerably and the list squeezed downwards.
    The fact that are several different bands of priority shows the bind that the Council is facing.
    The sort of social housing being built is way lower than the old ‘Parker-Morris standards and the space a human being is meant to occupy is getting to its lowest possible limits and maybe beyond.
    The term ‘affordable hosing’ is a slippery term and gets many Councils and developers off the hook. In short it is around 70 to 80% of market rents. If market rents are high then so is the affordable rent. Social housing rents will be lower.
    The cost of right to buy is (a) the loss of housing which is not easy to replace (b)the loss in capital value to the Council and (c) the enormous increase in the housing benefit budget, as most social tenants have to rent privately.
    There is more in work poverty than hitherto, because of housing costs. If the magic money tree which we now know exists was given a good shake, it would be cheaper for the Govt to allocate capital sums to Councils like TDC or Housing associations to buy on the open market and thereby reduce the housing benefit budget.
    Frankly the argument about Tory or Labour is arid and pointless as both have ignored Housing issues for too long and now we have a crisis; but this is true of so much of our society.We prefer to employ patch and mend policies rather than face issues square in the face.

    • Adding to the above, housing lists also still include many who would like to live in social housing but who currently have perfectly good housing.
      Our housing provision and services were all predicated on population projections that didn’t foresee the levels of migration we’ve seen.
      The economy whilst growing in pure gdp, is not increasing as a per capita number and as such there is not the cash to build at the rates required.
      Social is incerdibly expensive to provide manage and maintain, a real analysis would show it is no better value to the taxpayer than the private sector. It needs huge sums thrown at it to keep going, the decent home standard cost 40 billion to make up for lack of maintenance and repair, the grenfell inquiry will no doubt result in more handouts.
      Just look at TDC and EKH unable to deal with fire , gas , legionella and electrical safety , plus the huge backlogs of repairs ( just look at all the rusty railings on tdc council property).
      Its impossible to proivide decent housing for those on minimum wage and make the numbers balance. So the taxpayer subsidises some that work and leaves the rest to do as best they can.

      • The whole point of a Welfare State is that people pay into a scheme (taxes, NI) and people (not necessarily the same ones) draw on that scheme. It’s just like car insurance: every year you pay into it, whether you claim on it or not.
        I support this idea, generally speaking.
        The tricky bit is how to sort out those genuinely on a hard time, and those just milking the system.

        • Quite agree, however the economy needs to be balanced so that the amounts paid in are

          1) sufficient to do whats required ( but no gold plating)
          2) does not place too great a burden on those paying in
          3) that the system seems fair

          It doesn’t work in a low wage low skill economy, where the handouts act as a disincentive to train or invest.

          How many state subsidised ( low wages topped with benefits) nail bars, hairdressers, car washes, fast food purveyors , does a country need or can afford.

          • Agreed – it certainly begs the question as to whether the clientele who frequent this plethora of business types are mainly those on benefits with funds to spare for self indulgence ? ? ?

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