A mother of three’s struggle with Clarion reflects a system rigged to favour asset-owners while renters are abandoned
You will read the grim facts about Chanel Sultan’s life in a minute, but first let’s talk about her dreams. Like the law degree she has just started, or her hope to buy her own home. Like her years spent driving buses by day and working on her construction business in the evenings, all to feed her three children. Like reading self-help books and doing penance at the gym. “We can live lives that we really want to live,” she says. “Not the ones we’ve been given.” We sit in a house so run-down it laughs at any dreams, and I can’t tell whether such faith is born of determination or delusion.
At night she can hear rats scratching around beneath the floorboards under her bed. She and her children have seen them scuttling about and found their rotting corpses, have even had their belongings chewed up. Over the few months they have lived in this Victorian terrace, the ferocious damp and mould have ruined their clothes and their furniture. The headboard and base of Sultan’s own bed are so spoilt that they have been thrown away. In her bedroom, the mattress now sits atop cardboard packing boxes.