Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/13

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
11
COTTAGE PROPERTY IN LONDON.

If you prefer liberty, and dirt, and mess, take them; but if you choose to agree to live under as good a rule as I can make it, you can stay. You have your choice." Put in the light of a bargain, the man was willing enough. Well, he'd not "do anything contrairy, without telling me, about lodgers; and as to the children, he thought he could turn himself, and send them a bit, now his work was better."

With the great want of rooms there is in this neighborhood it did not seem right to expel families, however large, inhabiting one room. Whenever from any cause a room was vacant, and a large family occupied an adjoining one, I have endeavored to induce them to rent the two. To incoming tenants I do not let what seems decidedly insufficient accommodation. We have been able to let two rooms for four shillings and sixpence, whereas the tenants were in many cases paying four shillings for one. At first they considered it quite an unnecessary expenditure to pay more rent for a second room, however small the additional sum might be. They have gradually learnt to feel the comfort of having two rooms, and pay willingly for them.[1]

The pecuniary success of the plan has been due to two causes. First, to the absence of middlemen; and secondly, to great strictness about punctual payment of rent. At this moment not one tenant in any of the houses owes any rent, and during the whole time, as I have said, the bad debts have been exceedingly small. The law respecting such tenancies seems very simple, and when once the method of proceeding is understood, the whole business is easily managed; and I must say most seriously that I believe it to be better to pay legal expenses for getting rid of tenants than to lose by arrears of rent,—better for the whole tone of the households, kinder to the tenants. The


  1. It is not possible to form any comparison between the rent of rooms in London and New York, the circumstances of the two cities being so different; but the point to be observed is that by a very small increase of rent the amount of accommodation may be doubled.