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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #23

Ben on a chair[Ben Reeve Lewis is worried about boom and bust this week …]

Ben goes on a course

By the time this week’s piece is published I shall be deeply involved in an intensive 3 day seminar called ‘Millionaire Mind’, from 9am until 11pm at a hotel in Hammersmith until Sunday.

The aim is to change my thinking and attitudes to money, which for my whole life has been firmly stuck in boom and bust mode. When I’ve got some I live like a king, generously giving hand outs to beggars with a cheery “’ere ya go mate”, Buying cookbooks that I don’t need and expensive items of similarly un-needed cookware, arguing, ‘I work hard , I deserve it’. (I spent £75 on a small milk pan the other day….don’t tell Frazzy)

Boom and bustThen when times are tight I turn into Shiva the destroyer, snarling “Get a job” at the same beggar who next month I will be handing money out to and resenting every penny I have to spend. Why do modern razor blades cost so bloody much? and why do I always run out when I am in a financial trough? Its getting so I cant afford to shave my head anymore.

I know in advance that a lot of the lessons I will be learning this weekend will be about sustainability. Boom and bust just ravages you and leaves you in a state where you cant build anything, just respond to what’s in front of you. That’s why I am attending, I am worn out with boom and bust, I want stability.

And with that rather long but necessary preamble I turn to the boom and bust behind Britain’s housing situation…………….clever link huh?

House prices set to go up says Dana

In an article in The Express joy was expressed (terrible grammar I know, but too good a pun to miss) at the reported prospect of house prices set to soar by 21% – Author Dana Glover pronounced this “Fantastic news for the property market” But exactly who for in the property market Dana?

pot plantsEveryone writes articles about the ‘Property Market’ like it is a thing that exists separately from the people affected by it. As if it is some form of exotic and neurotic pot plant that needs careful attention, lest it wither and die.

Good for whom?

Maybe soaring house prices are great if you are a homeowner in negative equity but what if you are a home owner trying to sell to people who cant afford to buy?

What if you are someone so crippled by the current high rents that you cant save enough deposit to get on the ladder?

MD of Ideal Properties Stephen Dwyer said “These projected figures are massively positive and they come from a very credible source so it’s great news that they think house prices will rise by so much”. Ben slaps head!!!!!

Would YOU give a home to a rioter?

On a similar tip of one sided thinking I read with interest on the property website Upad that the response to a question they posted on their blog the vast majority of landlords wouldn’t rent to families evicted for rioting.

I can understand this. I would have reservations myself but this kind of makes the point about the efficacy of evicting rioters in the first place. If the evicted families can’t rent anywhere then they will have to go back to the council for help, who by law, must deal with them. So it costs the council more money arranging rehousing. Even if they take the line that the family are intentionally homeless they will still have to take the kids into care while the parents sleep on the street.

Forget ideas of “They should have thought of that”, what is happening is that more problems are being created out of the original one and setting up god knows what for the family, and therefore society, in the future.

Evicting the doormat

doormatThe ever excellent website 24 Dash wins the headline of the week “Housing Association hands doormat eviction notice

Not strictly true, the eviction notice was actually served on tenants for refusing to remove a doormat from the common parts of a building, but that is far more mundane and you know what they say? Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Yes we do, no you don’t …

The recently quiet National Housing Federation have thrown their lavishly feathered hat into the ring with a flourish this week with comments about the current housing crisis and the government’s shocking absence of effective ideas , and criticism of the chronic undersupply of home building.

Cardinal Shapps countered this with a direct rapier style thrust to the heart with stated plans to spend £4.5 billion on new build homes, which the NHF immediately parried with the idea that this grand statement actually represents a cut of 63% on what was happening before.

The NHF also kicked further sand in his eminence’s face saying that with the high level of private rents there is a lack of affordable alternatives to homeownership.

Shelter’s chief exec Campbell Robb became the 3rd musketeer as he swung in on the chandelier, Errol Flynn style, directly into the thick of the fight saying “Millions of people across the country remain desperate for an affordable place to live, with more and more forced into expensive and unregulated private rented accommodation,”.

Some real cases about real people

And finally, fancy metaphors aside and bringing you down with a bump, let me give you some real news from the frontline about how high rents are really affecting people in this boom and bust madness.

Not for the first time these past few weeks we get a phone call from ‘H’, a woman with a partner and 1 child. She is a student and her husband is self employed but like many self employed people, isn’t doing great. Housing benefit has been reduced because of their circumstances and the rent on their 1 bed flat is so high that they can’t afford to buy food or get by.

Without taking advice they handed in their notice and have been looking to rent 1 room for the 3 of them but can’t find anyone to rent to them because they will be overcrowded. The notice is up on Sunday and they are in a total panic because they don’t know where to go. They can’t afford to stay where they are and they can’t move elsewhere, even though they are prepared to cram themselves into1 room, as long as it is affordable.

Now those of you familiar with homelessness legislation will know what they can do on paper but also what will happen in practice. I’m not going into that here because I don’t want to start a fight.

Suffice to say while the various landlord/investment magazines are busy dancing around the maypole of increasing rental income, in true boom and bust style, is at the expense of tenants, many of whom are in ‘H’s position

Richard’s story

Most shocking of which is poor unemployed helicopter pilot Richard Sanderson of Wandsworth who killed himself after having his housing benefit cut and the accompanying fears that he and his family would be homeless.

Westminster’s coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said

“The fact his housing benefit was about to be cut and the family would be at risk of having nowhere to live, and being ordered to give up his training course because of the Job Centre’s rules, would appear to be especially poignant and tragic.”

My thoughts go out to Richard’s family this week.

Ben Reeve Lewis

Follow Ben on twitterBen 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.

Time picture by Berd, exotic pot plants by images of money

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About the post author:

Ben Reeve-Lewis

Ben is an enforcement officer for a London Local Authority, a housing law trainer, an author on housing law who writes for the Guardian & occasionally pops up wittering away on TV. He also runs Easy Law Training with Tessa & Graeme. Occasionally he sleeps. Find him on Google, and Journalisted. Any opinions expressed are Ben's personal views & don't reflect those of any organisations he may refer to.

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