I’ve had a tiring week involving a protracted case of an illegal eviction of a couple of under aged girls being pimped by Yardies from a local flat and an interminable case of an injunction hearing for an illegal eviction in front of a judge who was so pedantic it took him 35 minutes just to make his summary at the end.
I was so bored I actually took the risk of checking my emails with my phone out of sight, whilst sitting directly in front of him.
I reckon I could have actually made a call and he wouldn’t have noticed, so engrossed was he in dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’, while the landlord and the tenant glared daggers at each other in silence from opposite ends of the bench seats.
Last night I went to my temple, the Kagyu Samye Dzong not 100 yards away from solicitors Anthony Gold’s in Walworth road where the inestimable Nearly Legal operates, and promptly fell asleep in my meditation. All this housing law stuff is interfering with my spiritual development.
Either that or I need a holiday, not sure which.
Massive investment really drags an area down …
I found inspiration outside of my normal housing periodicals and websites this week from a story on the financial website Bloomberg about an unusual situation in Newham, the London borough hosting the Olympics. While much is made of the financial benefits that will come with the games on so many fronts house prices in Newham aren’t doing too well.
House prices have fallen 2.5% whereas in London as a whole prices are up 2.8% and this is despite quite a large cash boost to London’s poorest borough of several billions of pounds to help improve infrastructures in an area which has the lowest wages in the capital.
What I find interesting about reading financial journalism is that they see different sides to housing issues than I notice myself, as I am more concerned with the relationships of individuals and how the politicking of housing affects humans.
Residential research Director for Savills, Yolande Barnes contends that the money that was put into Newham to help it cope with the Olympics is part of the problem in that it helped build many new houses, as a result of which supply is keeping prices down. She said ;
“A demand shift will be needed. In today’s market, you’re not going to see house- price inflation unless you see a flow of equity into the area.”
Figuring out finance – not
I wish I could understand how money works. I might actually get some if I could figure it out. I once bought an excellent book by David Boyle, “The little Money Book” aimed at educating people like me whose understanding of pensions, hedge funds, futures markets is stuck at the level of a 4 year old…………..and I STILL didn’t bloody understand it.
How can pumping billions into an area actually make it worse? I did think it was odd when they built a Westfield shopping centre in Stratford. For those of you who don’t know the town, imagine putting diamond cufflinks on a lumberjack shirt.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing the area or the people, if you take a direct line from Newham, across the Thames about 2 miles you find Deptford, home to might Millwall FC which is where I was born and brought up. An area not dissimilar to Stratford or Toxteth or Moss-side etc. Any of those places I would think a strange choice for a Westfields or an Olympic stadium for that matter.
Landlords tax is eventually a burden on tenants
Sticking with the financial angle to housing stories I read on ‘Investor Today” that the way the tax system that is levied on landlords is stifling investment in the PRS.
Professor Michael Ball of Reading University, who I have mentioned before, points to the £3.5 billion pounds that PRS landlords contribute in tax, and making the relevant connection that I hadn’t thought of, that these taxes are in part passed on to tenants in the form of higher rents at a rate of £1,000 per tenancy.
The article states;
“Much of the burden falling on the sector is because of landlords being treated as investors and not businesses. This means that tax reliefs applying to businesses which recognise and encourage investment do not apply to landlords, even where they may have a number of properties.”
So there’s another thing I didn’t know about the financial side of housing.
Residential Landlords Association head Alan Ward said;
“Our proposals for change are cost neutral as they recognise the revenue that will flow from income to new and larger landlords and that every £1 invested in the sector provides a return to the economy of £3.50 through expenditure on building work and furniture
How does that work then? My financial ignorance started in school. The result for the very last maths exam I took when I was 16 was 9%………and I’ve probably got that wrong. I’ve written books, I write as a freelance journalist, I teach housing law but I cant even add up my own bank statement. Its embarrassing.
And on that note I have to add an article of my own this week, written for the Guardian Housing Network on Tuesday about the effects on council/PRS landlord relationships of freezing of LHA rates I mentioned on here a couple of weeks back.
In search of some clarification on the money side of housing I found an excellent explanation on Finance Blog about how economists look at it. It’s a nice Idiot’s guide and explained a fair bit. I was surprised to read however that house prices and rents are in part being pushed up by increased demand through an increase in immigration from Eastern Europe.
This point was raised in a curious way by Grant Shapps in an announcement on the government’s own Department for Communities and Local Government website where he asserted that over half of London’s rough sleepers were Eastern Europeans. He referred to them as ‘Dick Whittingtons’, saying:
“Non UK residents now account for over half the rough sleepers in our capital, so anyone heading here with tales of Dick Whittington in their head needs to realise that the streets of London and our other cities aren’t paved with gold.
Those arriving from beyond our shores to try and carve out a future in England should come with a thought-through plan to avoid the risk of sleeping on the streets.”
This is a curious statement to make on a government information site and has more in common with the Daily Mail in tone. I didn’t find any mention of this statement anywhere else either. It sort of just slipped in.
So first we get demonisation of people on benefits, then social tenants being equated with rioters, anyone not buying their home being deemed losers and now back to a good old fashioned bit of foreigner bashing.
And as the Eton prefects who are currently running this country slowly morph into Alf Garnett I bid you adieu for another week.
Oh and by the way Grant? There is only one Dick in this equation mate.
Ben Reeve Lewis
Ben’s runs Home Saving Expert, where he shares his secrets on defending people’s homes from mortgage repossession Visit his blog and get some help and advice on mortgage difficulties, 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.