[Ben Reeve Lewis on a Thursday? Well I told him I was closing the blog over Easter but he'd already written it ... He's 100 now you know ...]
Yes that’s right……#100!!!!!! Blimey.
At the time you read this I should have been in the Lake District, celebrating Frazzy’s birthday but we cancelled at the last minute because of the snow.
Personally I cant get enough of the stuff and would happily live in Alaska or Norway for the rest of my life but Frazzy’s Caribbean blood doesn’t countenance any temperatures that cant support a pineapple or two. A gentle breeze causing her to drag out her cardy and press ‘Over-ride’ on the central heating timer.
The changed photo to this week’s newsround is me in my natural state. I’m happy to visit the sun for 2 weeks but I don’t want to stay there, although Spain is proving mightily attractive all round for people in my line of work.
I read this week on Sky News that since 2008 there have been over a quarter of a million mortgage repossessions down there, 75,000 of them last year alone.
Follow the sun …
I got into a twitter exchange with people from TC Young, a firm of housing solicitors in Glasgow, pondering on whether we should take Lord Fraud’s advice and follow the work, opening a mortgage repo defence firm on the Costa del Sol.
Ok we would have to learn Spanish, and the Spanish legal system first but details, details. What’s the difference between a Spanish judge losing their temper with you for clutching at straws with a half arsed argument, trying to save a family home and a British judge?
One thing you quickly develop when defending mortgage repossession claims is a thick skin. I would imagine my Spanish counterparts are not far removed from Rhinos by now.
But seriously …
On a more serious note, apparently Spanish newspapers have been covering an increase in suicides over home loss and families of dead mortgagors camping out on the street. How long before we follow suit here?
I was in front of a judge on Monday on just such a case where my client collapsed on the floor of the court room from the shock and the judge had to re-list the hearing for the next day to allow her time to recover. Such is the state of modern British housing.
No concessions here
Apparently in November the Spanish government announced a 2 year freeze on evictions where the families earned less that 1,365 Euros a month and have children under 3.
No such concessions here when you take into account our government’s fight against having families with disabled children exempted from bedroom tax.
HMO Landlady made me laugh, and not for the first time with her latest instalment about the ups and downs of running properties where people live what are termed ‘Chaotic lifestyles’.
Including the guy dumped by his girlfriend in the street wearing only his pants and a hilarious misunderstanding in a conversation where a resident told her he had been living at ‘The Downs’, which she took to mean an exclusive resort, only to realise he meant ‘the Downs’, as in the sweeping hills of Sussex.
Johnson savaged by Mair
Like many people I particularly enjoyed the extraordinary savaging that Boris Johnson received at the hands of Eddie Mair on BBC 1s Andrew Marr show last Sunday.
In some ways it was a questionable interview, Mair on Mayor choosing to drag up age old stories from Johnson’s past and a spurious topic on a phone call regarding the beating up of a journalist that may well have been a joke and didn’t happen anyway.
I have read several articles that make a valid point that it may well have been cheap journalism but damn it was enjoyable to see a major politician completely flummoxed for once and drop all pretence of arrogance.
Its what they are paid for after all. Even Boris himself admitted that people in his position are fair game for that kind of thing.
Its all about to get worse
Writing in the Guardian, Homeless-Link’s Jacquie McCluskey trotted out the latest figures on homelessness.
Between just October and December last year 29,060 homeless applications were made to local authorities. That’s just 3 months worth of applications folks.
This represents a 22% rise in London alone.
There are 4,000 families living in bed and breakfast hotels because there is nowhere else to put them. Councils relocating families in boroughs away from their home area due to the unaffordablility of market rents has risen 32%.
Jacquie’s article points out that:
“In the last quarter, almost one in four households became homeless because their short-hold tenancy comes to an end. This is the highest number ever recorded.”
That thorny old issue of tenant security v Landlord assurance just wont lie down,
Much hoo-haw has been made about the chancellor George Osborne’s plan to introduce the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme to support homeownership aspiration but what is being done to address this growing homelessness crisis? Jack shit, that’s what…..and this particular Jack we’re talking about isn’t a back-bench Labour MP.
And it’s not as if something cant be done. Over the same period Scotland’s homelessness application figures dropped 12%. Jack obviously isn’t as influential north of the border.
Demolishing ‘help to buy’
A surgically precise demolition job on the implications of this shameless crowd pleasing initiative was drafted by Bristol’s own Professor Alex Marsh.
I like Alex’s Archives, he makes the points I would like to make but with him being an academic he makes them articulately whereas I, with my mere Poly-study certificate in Social Anthropology from Thames Polytechnic circa 1983 can only rant or be sarcastic.
So all I can say is ‘I agree with him’ when he says:-
“like any scheme that boosts demand in the face of inelastic supply – is also likely to push up house prices. That in turn would increase indebtedness.
Providing lenders with a guarantee against loss from more risky lending almost ensures that prices will be pushed up. Unless it is very careful with the detail of the guarantee, the Government is building substantial perverse incentives in to the scheme. We may find ourselves back on the fast track to subprime central.”.
Before I put this to bed for the Easter break I have just received the strange news that Frazzles has decided that as we cant do the Lake District now she has bought tickets to see a West End musical, ‘Jersey Boys’ instead.
I just Googled it to see what it’s about… Oh dear……………the things you do for love.