Today I did some of the work I am supposed to do for my housing co-op. A housing co-op is a legal association that owns and/or manages houses or flats in order to provide its members with decent housing. So the members are tenants of the Association, and the Association owns the houses, so in effect the members are owners or at least manage their own housing.

This is a big quality difference from private accommodation. Not only it tends to be cheaper, but it also tends to be a lot more stable. Privat landlords usually buy property with the sole intention of making money out of tenants – as much as possible. They will not wait four weeks before evicting you without notice or formal procedures. I have seen cases where the landlords simply changed the locks during the day, so the tenants would just find their things on the corridor and stairs – and this, if they were lucky. Also, if they learn that their property has raised in value, they will consider evicting the tenants not in terms of these tenants’ needs, but in terms of how many houses will the new price allow them to buy and then rent out again.

The result of this is people like me, that have had over eleven addresses in less than seven years. I know squatters that have had just one address in the last seven years! And I know of those who have stopped counted and gone to renting, of course, because they just could not take any more evictions.

So, in my circle of friends, living in a council flat or a housing association or co-op means that you are privileged, whatever the state your house is, because, now that it is stable, at least you know that whatever improvements you do, you will not have to repeat them in the next squat or rented flat in two or four months time.

Some people think that being in a co-op is even better than in a council flat. I have not been here long enough to see this, apart from the possibility to move houses – but who wants to move houses after living like “a gipsy”, as a friend of my mum put it once? Well, it also has the advantage that you may have a say in how the co-op is run. But some co-ops are so big that not every one is allowed to the decision-making meetings, only those who have something to report in terms of the work that they are doing, for the co-op, for free. This is one reason to get involved in the running of the co-op which mostly means really boring tasks. But it is good.

In theory not all co-ops need to be this big. In theory, you set up a co-op with a minimum of three people, buy a house in the name of your recently created co-op and off you go. But to buy this house you three need money, and although there are some banks that are friendlier to community initiatives, the initial deposit, which you can not borrow on top of a mortgage, will not be below thirty thousand pounds. Which equates to double the annual salary I can only dream of, at this stage.