It moved me to write an email to the First Minister of Scotland, the MSP for the area, and the MP for the Perth & Kinross area. I wonder if they will reply.
I have recently been reading about a farmer in rural Perthshire whose home is threatened with a demolition order because the landlord hasn't effected sufficient repairs to keep it in a habitable condition. The farmer and his family are living in appalling conditions, with no electricity and no safe, clean running water at the moment, as their supply has been contaminated with eColi through no fault of their own.
Read for yourselves here
and if you have the stomach for it, go back through this poor lady's writing and read of the terrible things that they have had to endure in the past year. I read it and wept for her situation and for my shame at not knowing that people still live like this in the UK.
I lived in the neighbouring county of Fife for 10 years, and had no idea that this sort of Third-world existence could be allowed to happen in Scotland. I am ashamed that the powers that be in the UK can allow this sort of thing to continue - to allow the landlords so much power over their tenants, so much control over their circumstances and be allowed to get away with such paucity of responsibility.
I want to join the others who must have been in touch with all of you over Gentle Otter's situation in calling for support for her and her family in this abysmal situation - and look at the tenancy laws of Scotland and England/Wales with the intention of reforming them in the not too distant future.
Although Gentle Otter is a blog name, you can contact her through her blog and I am sure she would be delighted to hear of any support and advice you can offer to her. Please stand up and be counted and let her know that these countries of ours are not going to let the laws continue to allow people to be treated like this - she and her husband depend on that farm for their livelihood, and their home, and she is determined not to be forced out of a home that her husband's family have tenanted for over a century.
(I signed it)"
Knowing that I lived within about an hour's drive of the area where Gentle Otter lives, I am ashamed that I didn't know that people still lived like that in 2011. I'm not completely naive, but I did think that clean water was pretty much a given, but GO doesn't even have that most of the time, and the house is now under a demolition order, as I said in the letter, so she is facing a pretty dire situation. She is being very decent and refusing to publicly name her landlord on the blog, but I have my suspicions, having lived in that area and knowing a tiny bit about some of the landed estates.
If you are so minded, please add your voice to the others contacting the powers that be to ask them to help her and other tenant farmers in Scotland (and England/Wales, as the tenancy laws are weighted in favour of the landlords everywhere, it would seem). Email addresses are available at the Scottish Parliament website, for the First Minister, and her local MSP, Richard Lochhead.
Tonight I am giving thanks for a dry house, clean running water and showers that work without a second thought, a washing machine that cranks to life whenever I need it, and the simple fact that this house is ours, and I don't rely on a landlord. I am very fortunate. And I don't work even half as hard as this brave lady.