This week we shared a story on our site from our colleagues in Plymouth about a man who’d set up a very simple petition that has gone on to get nearly
This week we shared a story on our site from our colleagues in Plymouth about a man who’d set up a very simple petition that has gone on to get nearly 150,000 signatures.
It was important for us to share this story, because I can see it hitting home with so many people.
I, along with my wife, am one of them.
It’s not often in this job that a story does something for you on a personal level – and that’s not to sound cold, what I mean is a story that you can truly relate to as a person and not as a journalist.
Our man in Plymouth, Jamie Pogson, managed that. His story is a simple one – he describes himself as a normal bloke and he was genuinely surprised with the reaction that his petition got.
What he proposes is straightforward – if you can prove that you’ve managed to pay a certain level of rent for years then that should be enough to prove you can pay mortgage repayments of a similar level.
Sounds sensible enough.
And this very thing was something that I said to myself and my other half many times this summer.
We came to Cornwall nearly two years ago now. Several factors were a part of the decision.
The missus had been made redundant a few weeks before we got married, so change was afoot in any event.
We then happened to spend our mini-honeymoon in Whitsand Bay, which is a wonderful – and truly underrated – part of Cornwall.
We got back to Poole, Dorset, and felt a need for change. Then we looked at the property prices in Cornwall and that pretty much sealed the deal.
Priced out in Dorset, we could afford it down here – it also just so happened to be one of the few places we’d leave Dorset for, the reasons being pretty obvious.
And so it all worked out and we arrived less than two months later, renting at first of course, but with the aim to buy.
That’s something we managed to complete just last month. But boy was it difficult.
I won’t beat about the bush here – in Poole we were paying rent of £950 a month. Pretty much the going rate for a two-bed flat up there.
Here, in the lovely village of Gorran Haven, we were down to £700 a month, which was nice.
Our mortgage payments now are £530 a month. I always knew we could afford it. Quite easily, to be honest, but convincing a bank of that isn’t easy, which is why Jamie’s petition makes so much sense.
Of course it’s never going to be as easy as saying “I’ve paid £700 a month rent for 18 months, so this £530 lark is easy”.
You’re still going to have to prove your incomings and outgoings. Fine. But what you’ve paid previously in rent isn’t a factor in mortgage decisions, it seems, which is pretty bonkers.
Earlier this year we had an agreement in principle for a mortgage with one major high street bank, but, when it came to it, they baulked at the fact that the wife had only been self-employed for a few months, despite the fact that she was earning more than she had been in a minimum wage stopgap job and had various ways of proving it.
That was probably one point where I exclaimed: “We’re paying £700 a month in rent no problem, we used to pay quite a bit more, why won’t they let us do this?”
It looked, at that point, that we’d miss out on being homeowners, for a few more years at least, because of the inflexibility of the lenders.
Let’s not forget that they had before them two working people, with no dependants (except for two cats), who had never missed a payment on anything in their lives.
We did credit checks. We were both perfect. But we were at a brick wall.
In the end, with the help of the brilliant people at South West Mortgages just outside of Truro, we got there.
It wasn’t ideal – it had to be done in my name alone – but we bought the house we wanted, eventually.
But the number of hurdles we had to jump over was incredible, to be honest. It’s not something I intend to repeat for many a year, if ever.
So that’s why Jamie’s petition is so important.
If it can help bring about any sort of change that means that hard-working people don’t find themselves banging their heads against a brick wall when trying to get on the housing ladder because of a ‘computer says no’ mentality, that will be a great thing.