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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday newsround #89

[Ben ReeveBen on a chair Lewis says thank you...]

Tessa will be shutting down Landlord Law Blog for Xmas. Let’s face it, who is going to be monitoring housing issues over the festive season? Unfortunately, saddo me.

In the run up to Christmas, like everyone I crave a break from the daily round of literally suicidal people facing mortgage repossession (did one today, poor lady with sickle cell anaemia and £34,000 arrears-but we might just yet pull it off, with fair wind and an employee of her mortgage lender who possesses a heart) and delving into the murky world of gas disconnections, threats, property fraud, assaults and general nastiness that makes up so much of my daily round.

And yet, when let off the leash I get a bit bored to be honest.

Mince piesI will no doubt carve out an hour with a glass of port to watch Singing in the rain” but it will probably only last as long as the scene where Don Lockwood’s partner shrieks “I cyant stand ‘im”. Then I’ll become pre-occupied with what’s going on in the wider world.

I have the same problem with holidays. I enjoy day one on a sun lounger with a book, but by day two I wonder what is over that hill.

My Co-TRO Steve Belafonte (Nephew of Harry….yes really) will be happily ensconced working for ‘Crisis at Christmas’, which is what he does. Dispensing soup and housing advice. I get that, more than I get paper hats and mince pies to be honest.

While he ministers to the sick and the needy I’ll be doing turkey crown (With a layer of Parma ham to moisten it and offset the dryness), Sprouts (Tossed with chestnuts and a slab of Prosciutto) and Highland swede (Cubes of swede, steamed and tossed with cream and a dash of whisky). Then I’ll go online and wonder why you lot are so quiet.

I’ve decided to look back on this year for the people I’ve discovered who keep my faith in humanity flying amongst all the shite.

Alex Marsh, come on down. He runs the excellent and thought provoking Alex’s Archives.  He is a professor at Bristol University specialising in social policy. Always thought provoking, humorous and seems like a decent human being.

Never met the guy but I feel we would probably bond over a pint, although I think he is a 10th Dan martial artist so probably doesn’t drink.

Jules Birch is a housing journalist who writes for Inside Housing. Views are very tuned-in and incisive who blogs as “Inside Edge”, which will take you to the main game, Inside Housing, the CIH magazine that is the industry standard for housing news and jobs for senior managers in social housing. Really intelligent analysis across the board.

Renter girl Blog, AKA Penny Anderson.  Housing journalist and angry tenant. I don’t always agree with Penny’s views but you can’t argue with her passion and she always makes me laugh. She calls it how she sees it.

Unfortunately Penny lives in Edinburgh, a city I love and have friends living by the Botanic, who I have spent many happy Christmas and New Year’s with, but Scottish Law doesn’t transfer to English so we can’t connect up as much as we would like to.

HMO Landlady  who has become a genuine friend that started as a social media link. THE human face of landlording. I have had the honour of meeting her and found her to be as funny and humane in person as she appears in print, maybe even a little louder and indiscreet, she makes me laugh.

If I could bottle what she has I would be a millionaire. Follow her blog and give her your support, she is taking things places.

Planet Property  has been a bit of a find. Always leftfield stuff, often with a humorous angle and a real lift from the usual round of depressing housing news. Often the first place I go to when deciding on my tweets for the day so I don’t come across so much as a purveyor of doom and gloom.

Red Brick is a blog I recommend, knowing full well that many will baulk at many of its assumptions  by its title you can easily see that its heart is firmly on its sleeve. I stopped being a Trotskyist back in the 1990s but I can’t argue with its humanity, logic or concerns for social justice.

I don’t think you need to be a card carrier to empathise with the basic decency with which Steve Hilditch sets out his case. Compassion is neither the exclusive preserve of the right or the left and to my mind Red Brick talks a lot of common sense.

I think in the past year my housing interests have widened to include more political issues, in terms of benefit cuts, attacks on the poor and to that end I have become a fan of CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies), a blog that looks at housing and a range of other issues in the wider sense of community involvement  isn’t isolated and sits within a much broader set of concerns.

CLES regularly gives me a perspective on other arenas in which housing issues sit.

A big heads up and a happy Christmas to Giles Peaker, David Smith, Francis Davey and the assorted lads and lasses at Nearly Legal. Not always for the lay person but a bit of concentration will bear dividends. Well done people.

I also want to name check Hannah Fearn at the Guardian Housing Network  who has taken me under her wing and has been editing me and teaching me new writing skills in a more journalistic style.

She removes my swear words and sarcy comments and actually makes me read like a professional. Her support and encouragement have been a real boost to my year. Who knows, I could end up being the Polly Toynbee of housing.

Easy Law TrainingFinally I would like to thank new friends Tessa and her hubby Graeme. A few months ago we formed Easy law Training Ltd together, to educate landlords, tenants and social housing workers, in the firm belief that a lack of knowledge is one of the main problems of renting-land.

It’s a rare meeting of minds and intent that we hope will benefit all areas of housing in the coming years, not simply as a means of income but also the fulfilment of values we share.

Happy Christmas and a great new year to all of the above.

And thank YOU Ben for entertaining us all every Friday while improving our knowledge and understanding of housing issues …Ed

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4 Responses to Ben Reeve Lewis Friday newsround #89

  1. Thanks Ben! And… how dare you not always agree with me. Next year: That.Will.Change. Oh – and is there anyway you could fit more meat into that menu? It’s verrrry meaty.

  2. Well next year is certainly going to be an interesting year in landlord and tenant world, a lot of us might be changing our views when OBC caps and universal credit drives up repossessions and homelessness claims.

    I know its a lot of meat but much will be divided up among family and I havent mentioned the veg….mind you that has meat in it too. But I’ve asked for a juicer for xmas so I may yet stay in my current trouser size




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


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