Home Lifestyle My landlord raised my rent by £800 and triggered my PTSD

My landlord raised my rent by £800 and triggered my PTSD


I knew that I could no longer manage this situation (Picture: Getty Images)

My stomach dropped when the email arrived from my landlord.

I knew it would come one day, but when it did, it was worse than I imagined – so bad it brought back the PTSD I suffered from seeing a teenage boy being murdered almost a decade earlier.

He had told me he wanted to increase my rent by £800, which was not something I could afford.

Then came the email with threats of court and telling me he was going to send two men round to ‘inspect the place’.

The flat was my home and offered me a stability that I hadn’t previously experienced; finally I knew what it was like to live in a safe area.

But all that was undone by the email and suddenly I was a victim of the housing crisis facing an uncertain future.

As a woman living alone with three chronic health conditions – bipolar disorder, ADHD and PTSD – and a survivor of sexual assault, I knew that I could no longer manage this situation.

The inconvenient truth is that my situation is not unique. Vulnerable people like are being disproportionately affected by the housing crisis and that needs to stop.

My PTSD comes from working as a youth worker, where I was exposed to gang violence. I witnessed numerous traumatic events during my career, dealing with the immediate aftermath of a murder.

The estate agent spelled out the extent of the rent increase: From £1,560 per month to £2,383pm

In the summer of 2021, I moved into the flat and, for just shy of two years, I found a stability that I hadn’t previously experienced; I felt the serenity of what it’s like to live in a safe area.

My PTSD became more manageable and I met someone special, getting into a relationship for the first time in years.

Then, in April 2023, my landlord phoned me to warn me that there would be a rent increase.

I was polite and measured, even telling him I was sorry for his difficult circumstances.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Trembling
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Self-isolating behaviour
  • Heart palpitations

A day or two later, I received a call and then an email from the estate agent spelling out the extent of the increase. The rent would go up from £1,560 per month to £2,383pm.

When I told friends, everyone said the same thing: ‘Is that legal?’

In desperation, I approached my local authority asking for help. I had several long conversations with a man from the Homelessness Prevention Team, some lasting up to 90 minutes.

I was told I would be helped, that I was a priority case. I clung to those words as the pressure mounted around me.

After this incident, I experienced the worst PTSD flare-up I’d had in years (Picture: Getty Images)

When my housing assessment finally came around seven weeks later, the woman who carried it out told me there was no support available from the councilthat my only option was renting privately.

With the deadline approaching, I emailed my landlord and told him that I had no choice but to stay in the property and pay rent at the old rate.

A week passed with no response, and then came the threats, followed by that threat to take legal action against me in July 2023.

Disabled people are now competing with non-disabled high-earning tenants for rental homes that are in short supply and high demand

The nature of PTSD is that it works via triggers. Unfortunately, after this incident, I experienced the worst flare-up I’d had in years.

Since hearing about the rent increase I already had insomnia, was struggling to eat and was existing in a state of chronic stress. Then after the threats, my nervous system reacted accordingly. Physiologically, I was back in a gang war.

I visited my GP who told me my symptoms were stress-related.

She then deemed me to be at risk of relapsing into a manic episode with bipolar as a result. But I was offered no treatment.

A couple of weeks after receiving the threatening email, I moved out. And while friends stepped in to help me, moving while experiencing a flare up in PTSD was overwhelming.

Thankfully, I am now staying with a friend who had a spare room for the short-term so I put most of my things in storage. This has given me a foundation to rebuild after such a traumatic experience.

I truly believe that my landlord took advantage of me. He knew that, as I was disabled, there was no way I would be able to afford the rent increase and so used this opportunity to find a new tenant.

What’s worse, disabled people are now competing with non-disabled high-earning tenants for rental homes that are in short supply and high demand.

Rents in inner London have gone up by 28% since 2019. This means I can no longer afford a suitable property within an accessible distance of my medical services – my psychiatrist, GP and physiotherapist – so I have to travel for an hour each way to make these appointments.

Since this ordeal, I started therapy and I’m focusing on exercise and self-care. I’m adapting to a tough situation the best I can and rising to the challenge of changing boroughs.

It’s hard to discern how many other people are going through this as the disabled community is largely a population without a platform or voice. It’s harder for us to speak up due to the immense pressure we’re under and the numerous challenges we face on a daily basis.

The solution is not complex to me though: vulnerable and disabled people need stable and permanent housing. It’s as simple as that.

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