[Ben Reeve Lewis is in rant mode again ...]
Last week’s readers will be aware that I was ill when writing. Things haven’t improved much. I still feel like I am living life behind a blanket, and when I wake up I feel like I have been run over by a velvet steamroller, but I am coping.
I went to see the doctor who checked everything I had (apart from ‘Down-There’, which is off limits to all but Mrs Reeve-Lewis). And this 12 year old told me that she couldn’t find anything wrong with me she had 2 suggestions:-
- I was suffering from a general bug doing the rounds;
- I wasn’t getting any younger.
Cheeky bloody mare. I don’t pay my taxes to be talked to like this. Andrew Lansley and David Cameron should cook up a plan to dismantle the nonsense that is the NHS…………………….oh!!!!!…..too late…..they already have!
Yes you guessed it……….. I’m back in rant mode this week.
Rant mode again
The riots were such big news last week that they have spilled over to this week too, even though my chances of getting a Blu-ray player for nowt have now been significantly reduced. Honestly, the youth of today….no staying power.
An introduction to Caribbean, inter-island politics.
Frazzy, as regular readers will know, is from Barbados-by way of Deptford – but still inter-island snobbery runs through her veins. Last week you will recall me recommending a clip of a woman in Hackney berating rioters. She saw it and commended the woman’s spirit but condemned her language, saying a Bajan would have been more eloquent.
Two day’s later she emailed me at work and said she showed the clip to her mum and that she actually knew the woman from back in the day and lo and behold she was Bajan and wasn’t it great that it took a Bajan to tell it like it is……….Her hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Much talk has dominated the press about the government’s support for council’s evicting rioter’s families where they have been found to be involved in the riots.
Nearly Legal came up with a fantastic description of our illustrious housing minister Grant Shapps “a housing minister whose knee is never knowingly un-jerked”…nice one Giles.
Wandsworth council were first out of the traps after the rabbit, completely oblivious to things like ‘due legal process’ or ‘Human rights legislation’ or even the word ‘Sensible’. Where chief exec Ravi Govindia announced they would be the first to take the lead.
Now our Ravi must have half an eye on Boris’s resignation as he seriously jumped the gun to look like Robin Hood meets George Orwell, wonderfully highlighted by William Flack in his blog where he likened Ravi’s antics to that of a clown
Don’t get me wrong, I was as depressed and incensed by last week’s events as the next man and I do think something should be done about it, but as a housing professional I can see the sheer daftness in the approach to this. The law as it stands doesn’t allow for what is being proposed and any changes to the law to simplify things are getting into monkeys and typewriters territory.
The Localism Bill is coming to get you
As if people in local authorities like me, haven’t got enough on their plates with the impending localism bill. A piece of legislation that is moving faster than a Lewis Hamilton Grand Prix and with as much insight as a Jordan biography……hey! Let’s all meet up in the rubble and have a party!
Housing benefit, again
Meanwhile housing benefit cuts are still having a 180 degree effect from the intention to drive down rents.
Today I attended a meeting at work in which the head of housing benefit revealed that HB claims have dropped over 2,000 in the last few months. In our terms this is akin to what the poor people in a tsunami experience when they suddenly see the tide rush out before it comes back in with a bang.
There seems to be 2 possible reasons for this:
- Not so many people are becoming landlords
- Landlords are moving away from housing benefit tenants.
My money is on the latter, which has been predicted by so many organisations and polls.
What intrigued me and dragged my attention away from the actual subject of the meeting (a very easy thing to do in council meetings, trust me) was the thought that, if the latter is indeed true, where are all those people going?
Where are all the HB tenants going?
London has around 30 local authorities. If all 30 are experiencing the same as us, that is 60,000 people going somewhere else. Be realistic, and cut it by 50%, to take into account leafier boroughs like Richmond, Bromley etc. and that still gives you 30,000 people, even by conservative estimates. Where are they going?
And we aren’t talking a year here, just the last few months. So what are the real figures?
When HB cuts were announced one MP likened the possible effect to be akin to the Highland Clearances of the 18thcentury. It would appear that his prediction in London alone may be proving true, just halfway through 2011.
A landlords market
Some of you may follow me on twitter. Today, while I was considering the subject for my newsround blog I received a tweet from someone who told me that their experience was that 8 out of 10 properties were gone within 24 hours of applying for them and that their last prospective landlord didn’t want to rent to them because they had been made unemployed through cancer. The presumption being that work and even life were too uncertain to invest in.
Right now we live in a landlord’s market. There are so many tenants chasing properties that the landlord can call the shots. It’s just business. Supply and demand. I understand that.
But why does our renting system exist in a see-saw metaphor where one party can only be up when the other is down? The old Rent Act restrictions tipped it the other way and the result was that people didn’t get into landlord-ing and as a result homelessness went up. I’m not calling for a return to that.
Why does it have to be this way?
A report this week (sorry Tessa, can’t find the link) found that 30% of people spend more than 50% of their income on rent. I know so many people doing 2 and even 3 jobs just to stand still. This may seem like a boom time for landlords but for tenants it is bloody awful and depressing too.
Even social housing rent levels are getting raised under a scheme that is laughingly known as “Affordable rents”. A survey carried out in Newham shows that social housing tenants have to be earning over £43,384 per annum to be able to afford rents without housing benefit support. [See also this old post on the blog about affordable rents not being affordable - Ed]
I’ll bet a lot of landlords reading this article don’t even earn that.
Rent levels can only go so far before it becomes unsustainable and the bubble bursts. When that happens property investors may well find themselves not being able to pay their investment mortgages.
Landlords and tenants live and die together, that’s the nature of the business. Boom and bust applies to both parties.
The rental business can generate a good income, a regular income but when landlords try to turn it into a fast income they run the risk of killing the golden goose. I can really see this coming because, as my doctor pointed out, I am old enough to have been here many times.
Ben Reeve Lewis
Ben has started Home Saving Expert, to share his secrets to defending people’s homes from mortgage repossession Visit his blog and get some help and advice on mortgage difficulties and catch up with him on Twitter and check out his free report “An Encouraging note on Dealing with your Mortgage Lender” and have it sent right to your inbox.