Sign up for my Weekly Tips on a Tuesday (and get a free guide)>> Click here

Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #48

[Ben ReeveBen on a chair Lewis is getting financial this week ..]

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.

Spiritual interference

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

Follow Ben on twitterBen’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.

Holiday picture is by Abi Skipp

(See also the comments area below and >> click here to read our terms of use and comments policy)

Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.

Landlord LawLandlord Law exists to give help & support to landlords

To find out more and the Seven Free Services you can use on Landlord Law RIGHT NOW!

>> Click Here

20 Responses to Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #48

  1. Is it Grant Shapps time already? The streets of one of the richest cities in the world are thought to be paved not with gold, but jobs and opportunities to start a business. Immigration was always this way, and always will be. And money thrown at an area never makes it worse, but scatter cash never hits the right targets.

  2. Thats true Penny. Immigration always has started this way, especially in London and society doesnt collapse because foreigners live here.

    My own cheeful, chirpy cockney family are Huegenot descendants from 18th century France, my mum’s side, all blonde Geordies obviously Vikings at some point.

    Being English isnt all about the sound of leather on willow and Morris dancing

  3. Has any research been done on the streets of Gdańsk, Riga or Tallinn to try to find out if the average Pole, Latvian or Estonion has ever heard of Dick Whittington? I’m sort of inclined to doubt that any of them will have much knowledge of a minor British politician who has been dead for nearly 600 years.

    Indeed I doubt may of then will have heard of Grant Shapps – notwithstanding that he is one of our better known and still-living Dicks.

  4. Haha well said Chris. I found his comments quite extraordinary on the CLG website where you would expect a few more statistics and a little less sarcasm.

    Even if true, as Penny points out getting a toe-hold by any means possible has always been the lot of immigrants who go on to be standard British citizens who then moan about the next influx, including my French ancestors and my partner’s Bajan family.

    The name Shapps sounds distinctly German to me.

    And dont get me started on Shepperson!!!!!!!!!

  5. Nothing wrong with the name Shepperson! My Dad was South African but his fathers family came from England and Ireland. His mother’s family was Boer and I understand that one of them was in a great trek to the transvaal in covered wagons, the South African equivalent of the American pioneers.

    My Mum’s family was English, working class craftsmen mostly I think, although her father’s family had some lawyers and actors.

    In other works a right old muddle!

  6. Like every true Englishman Tessa. For most of us you dont have to go back that far to find foreigners. Your Boer antecedents are what? only 110 years ago?

    Newcomers to the country are usually the ones who work the hardest, look at the guys who run the many asian cornerstores across the land, the hours they put in are phenomonal and they stick together and help each other out, they deserve their success and contribute greatly to the community.

    On Shapps again though, does anyone think that in terms of housing influence, his work is taking a back seat to Lord Freud’s welfare reform stuff? I think it is beyond Shapps’s team to handle. And where is Dromey? After a promising start he is becoming another Seabeck. I can only presume that Labour too see housing as a by-product of other policies

  7. Jack Dromey probably hasn’t got his orders from Harriet Harrperson yet.

    Funny you should mention about being hopeless at maths Ben. According to yesterday’s Daily Telegraph this is apparently very common and that people see being rubbish at maths as being an acceptable form of ignorance. Which is a pity because recently I used a nifty spot of mechanics to disprove an allegation in an anti-social behaviour possession claim.

    Backgrounds? Northern industrial working class stock. I think there’s a bit of Irish in there somewhere what with me being a redhead.

    I also agree with Ben about immigrants and work ethic. Next time you hear someone go on about “bloody foreigners taking our jobs,” ask them why they keep losing out to said foreigners. It’s probably because the foreigners have more of a work ethic and aren’t steeped in the entitlement culture that a lot of this land has. They also are prepared to actually do the jobs that the “native British” for want of a better term would sneer at as beneath them.

    Funnily enough in my experience the 2nd generation immigrants who were brought up here often have the same anti-immigrant attitudes. A while back I overheard a bunch of young Asian lads crowing about the Eastern Europeans taking their jobs in exactly the same terms as possible BNPists might use. They also appear to have the same “too good for this sort of job” attitudes as well. Which indicates that there’s something in young peoples’ today’s upbringing that’s responsible, and I say this as a (relatively) young person myself.

  8. “Acceptable form of ignorance”? No I am really embarassed about it JS. I can sit in a room of 20 lawyers giving out info on housing law but the minute one of my clients starts to say “Well I paid £320 last month £175 this month but that was offset aginst the £65 I gave the landlord in December” I feel like I am going to faint.

    My manager was trying to tell me the other day why I dont have the 28 hours owed to me but only 14. She became increasingly exasperated and said “Ben please dont make me punch you”.

    Yeah I do know what you mean about entitlement. I spent some time living in Somerset where there are loads of seasonal-agricultural jobs and everyone moaned about East Europeans taking them but when you spoke to the farmers it was because no locals would do it.

    I get angry at low wages but I would still rather work than sign on, even if I thought my employer was taking the pee.

    And I also hear the same immigrant stuff myslef. My mum in law, who came here from Barbados in the early 1960s to work as a nurse recently said to me that she thought Bromley had gone downhill lately because there too many black people there haha

  9. In Cambridge is was clear that a lot of the demand was from Eastern Europeans, I saw two Eastern Europea families move into houses next to me, they said that there standard of living was lower than at home, but that they were willing to make sacrifices so their children could get a good education. Interestingly, one of them told me that they did not wish to live in London as there are too many black people in London! (Both of the Eastern European families got housing benefits and working tax credits, however they both clearly worked VERY hard doing jobs that the local unemployed thought were below them.)

    In Suffolk there was a case of a person being turned down for a seasonal-agricultural job as he did not speak polish so would not get on with the other workers – I have no idea how common this is, or if it was just one farmer. A lot of the locals don’t take the seasonal-agricultural jobs as they don’t have transport and unlike the eastern Europeans are not willing to live in dormitories on the farms.

  10. For several years I have had the good fortune to be trainer and tutor for the Reach-In Project, a scheme aimed at gett8ing refugees into housing work.

    They do unpaid placements with housing associations, whilst also studying for a CIH housing law diploma. I would mark their course work and spend several days with them helping them understand how housing works in the uK and helping them improve CVs and interview skills.

    They have always been amazing. Contrary to popular belief they have little understanding of the benefits system and they dont have anything similar in their own countries. They just want the chance to be able to work and contribute like everyone else.

    One guy on the last cohort got up to clean in a hospital at 5am and then went to his unpaid placement 4 days a week, studied at night for his diploma and came to the training session as well. Everyone was motivated when we had a speaker, an ex asylum seeker who began his life cleaning urine out of phone boxes and is now head of a housing association.

    It was a priveledge to help these people out and I would employ any one of them

  11. Ben, I didn’t mean to point at you specifically regarding mathematical ignorance; I was merely pointing out that mathematical incompetence is surprisingly common. I do wonder why this is.

    I too would rather work than sign on, however, it does appear to me that mathematically one can be better off on benefit, if you take into account the net increase in your income per week in work over that of benefit. If you can claim £120.00/week Housing Benefit, £65.45/week Jobseekers’ Allowance, £20.30/week Child Benefit and £64.00/week Child Tax Credit, that’s a total benefit haul of £269.75 per week.

    You may have physically more money if you work but you then have to ask yourself if the difference of a few tens of pounds each week, factoring in travel costs and suchlike, childcare if you have children, and so forth, is really worth the 37.5 hours per week you put in.

    This is where benefit dependency sets in, where people decide it’s too much effort for too little reward, but fail to take into account that experience at doing awful jobs makes you more attractive, should you later obtain a qualification of some sort, than someone who just sat around bludging off the dole. You also pick up skills and things even in awful jobs that make you more employable in the future, and also it shows that at the bare minimum you can be trusted to turn up on time, get along with people, and have a go.

    This is actually one of the things that pushes me in favour of bringing in workfare (in part at least), to be honest. But then again, that’s probably my industrial Northern parentage coming out, it’s all about hard work and effort and what you make of things.

    (For the record, I have done awful jobs. I have swept empty cinemas, flogged petrol, and once while a student, been a telephonic tarot reader on the other end of an 0900 line, but more on that later.)

  12. Haha love it. I used the tarot once, I got a full house and 3 people died (Woody Allen)

    JS I am totally with you on job fare to be honest (Maybe a Northern thing as my Mum’s side of the family are all Geordies). I am lucky in having a regular job but I think if I lost it I would at least volunteer somewhere.

    The only time I was on the dole (do people say that anymore?) was in the mid 80s for a few months and I got a job driving a van delivering bread 6 days a week, starting at 3.30am for £5 a week more than I could get on benefits. I would just climb the walls if I felt I had nothing ot contribute.

    As Jethro Tull once sang “And its only the giving that makes you what you are”

  13. Speaking as someone who has not had a proper job since 1994 when I set up the business, there is an awful lot you can do for yourself.

    A job is not necessary if you can get it together to do your own thing.

    Impressed with the tarot thing JS, maybe you ought to do a Friday forecast for us …

  14. Thats right Tessa. Napoleon Hill wrote that famous self help book ‘Think and Grow Rich’ the basic tenet being if you can think you can earn a living.

    A hero of mine is Joseph Campbell the anthropologist and student of myths. He was critical of benefit culture because he reckoned it robs people of their abiility to support themselves. He said “Every fox know how to hunt”.

    I dont mean to demean a wonderful system that was brought in to protect the most vulnerable but I do think it can take something from people in the giving of it, if that makes sense?

    I hate the way the government makes people on benefit out to be lazy scroungers, there is no compassion within that position and I dont believe that what really drives Lord Freud is a desire to help

  15. Absolutely Chris. When they tried to add Bulgaria and Romania to the list of Accession states for homelessness the government had to do a quick backtrack because of the well known gangster cultures there but also, having said that Nick and Raoul who run the coffee shop next to my office are Bulgarians, dead straight, work really hard to make their business work.

    The problem, as with all stereotyping is staying open to people whilst at the same time not being daft. The tale of the frog and the scorpion being a case in point, as raised by Campbell

  16. Tessa, I fear that if someone tarot’d the state of Housing right now, given Ben’s views on it, what do you reckon the first card up would be?

    Not the Devil (insert Take That at Shapps here)
    Not the Fool (insert likewise)
    Not Death
    Not the tower struck by lightning (which is actually quite optimistic, it represents a sea change and thus an opportunity)

    No, all these cards have a positive side. I propose that the Five of Pentacles be the official State of Housing 2012 Tarot Card. Apparently, according to, it can mean any of the following:

    experiencing hard times
    running into material troubles
    losing a job or income
    feeling insecure
    going through a period of hardship
    lacking what you need
    struggling to make ends meet

    suffering ill health
    feeling run down and tired
    refusing to take care of yourself
    neglecting your body and its needs
    feeling ragged around the edges
    getting medical attention
    abusing your body

    being rejected
    lacking support
    having the door slammed in your face
    taking an unpopular position
    being ostracized
    feeling excluded
    standing alone
    receiving disapproval

  17. Likewise, although I’m more a Ten of Swords myself – constantly struggling uphill and overburdened, etc.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

Legal Services

Legal services are provided via Tessa's online service Landlord Law. Some advice services are provided by Tessa, other legal services are provided by specialist housing firm Anthony Gold.


The purpose of this blog is to provide information, comment and discussion. Although Tessa, or guest bloggers, may from time to time, give helpful comments to readers' questions, these can only be based on the information given by the reader in his or her comment, which may not contain all material facts. Any comments or suggestions provided by Tessa or any guest bloggers should not therefore be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified lawyer regarding any actual legal issue or dispute.

Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice or perceived as creating a lawyer-client relationship (apart from the Fast Track block clinic service - so far as the questioners only are concerned).

Guest bloggers

Please note that any opinion expressed by a guest blogger is his or hers alone, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tessa Shepperson, or the other writers on this blog.

Other websites from Tessa

Lodger Landlord | Google+ | Your Law Store | How to Evict Your Tenant website | the Which Tenancy Agreement Guide | Landlords Tips | Tenants Tips | Landlord Law Store