Scottish Daily Mail

My daughter’s first foot on the housing ladder (and happily furnished with family hand-me-downs)

- Jonathan Brockleban­k j.brockleban­

TWO years ago, I ushered my daughter out of a prospectiv­e rental flat in Glasgow with such haste that I nearly took a tumble down the tenement stairs.

We had spent all of five minutes in the place – more than enough exposure, I felt, for a young woman with hopes and dreams.

It was probably a mistake going inside in the first place. The space between the bottom of the door of the close and the floor, she noted, provided ample headroom for mice. I didn’t like to tell her even rats on roller skates would hardly have to duck.

The accommodat­ion upstairs was half a flat, the other half having been crudely hived off as a separate property, leaving a 10ft by 10ft cell of a living room, a bedroom considerab­ly smaller than that and a kitchen so meagre you could have floored it with a square yard of lino.


As I wrote on this page at the time, the thought of my daughter living in a place like this would have kept me awake at night. She would have been equally sleepless.

Could this really be the reward for her academic endeavours, for keeping her eyes on the prize, as her parents urged her to do? Was this what having the world at your feet looked like? A direct debit of £550 a month for a berth in a second-storey rabbit hutch?

Even the rental agent looked embarrasse­d about it.

I mention this bleak episode from 2021 because it represente­d a glimpse over the verge into an abyss that made us both shudder and, while I could not yet say how the corner would be turned, I promised her that it assuredly would.


Well, today she collects the keys for her first home – a house, actually, with a front door and a back door and even a wee bit of garden.

Today, with no little trepidatio­n, she joins the ranks of mortgage holders. Let us not frighten ourselves with the interest rate details and instead reflect that, a few weeks from now, the capital sum owed will have begun creeping downward. In a year, she’ll have made a dent in it.

Renters never experience this incrementa­l journey.

Tomorrow, I’ll be heading up to Dundee with a few handme-downs for her. My parents used to tell me that their first dining room table in the 1960s was a cardboard box. There was a certain romance back then to stretching yourself so thin to put a roof over your head that you couldn’t afford to put furniture on the floor.

You trusted that it would arrive, little by little, until one day you would have too much and put it in storage thinking, who knows, maybe it will do a turn down the line for a son or daughter.

Much of my parents’ stuff did a turn for me. And now the dining table in my hall cupboard and matching chairs stacked in the attic are to be pressed into service for a second generation. They are older than my daughter is – quality items from John Lewis, circa 1995 – and good for a few more years yet.

Her grandfathe­r has donated bedside tables and a standing lamp. As a housewarmi­ng gift, I splashed out three figures for an office chair identical to the one I am sitting on now. I can hardly wait to rock up in the car with her starter pack of new home goods and chattels.

It almost makes me want to move house myself.

But there is nothing to match that first time, that strange new set of keys in your pocket which open the door to your future; stepping inside, beholding your blank canvas and knowing it is yours to make of what you will.

Inevitably there will be crises of confidence. ‘Did I really pay all that for all… this?’ Stark, pictureles­s walls and featureles­s carpets still bearing the footprints of the sofas and beds which have just been removed from them can do this to a first-time buyer. The rooms look smaller than they did. You notice faults you didn’t pick up on in your viewing and now they’re your problem, not the vendors’ or some landlord’s. You paid good money for them.

But the benefits of owning your own place easily outweigh the burdens and it should be a matter of huge concern that so few Scots of my daughter’s age are able to discover this for themselves.

One expects to rent during further education and, perhaps, for a year or two after beginning a career.

Yet tens of thousands of highly qualified graduates see no prospect of home ownership on their side of 30.


If not holed up in substandar­d rental flats which account for up to half their salaries, they are languishin­g in parental homes, feeling like failures, like overgrown children with the wrong papers for passage into adulthood.

The property market is no friend to the young, far more of whom have debts to pay off than five-figure deposits to throw at prospectiv­e homes which cash-buyer landlords are bidding for too.

So the promise I made to my daughter that things would come good, you just see if they don’t, was, I admit now, a bit of a punt. But Dad was as good as his word. A tailwind of relief will speed my journey up to Dundee tomorrow.

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