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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #114

Ben on a chair[Ben Reeve Lewis considers daftness ]

I want to talk about daftness this week.

People get some strange ideas don’t they? Like the poor lady who rocked up at our office at 9am to see the lovely ladies who run the housing waiting list and asked how she could bid for a property she had seen that she liked.

The numbers game

She was told she would have to wait to receive her bidding number.

Taking the advice literally she sat back among the 40 or so others seeking homelessness assistance.

Trouble is, the bidding number is sent out in the post. The poor thing sat patiently until 3:30 before going back to the desk ask why she had still not received her number yet. Oops! One angry woman.

Old Kent  Road Solicitor?

And the client I picked up at the beginning of the week who had obtained his own injunction against his landlord for harassment and illegal eviction, only to find the landlord breached it and changed the locks on him yet again.

He said he had an appointment with a solicitor recommended by a friend to take the landlord back to court. Merely out of interest I asked who it was but he said he didn’t know his name. I asked where he was meeting him and he said “The Old Kent Road”.

Scanning my mental files for solicitors firms down the OKR I suggested a couple of names. He said he didn’t know the name of the firm.

So I asked for their address but he merely replied “OKR” again. More than a little confused at this point I enquired how he could turn up for a meeting at a solicitors whose name and address he doesn’t know. He clarified by saying the guy was going to pick him up in his car.

Now who in their right mind would trust a nameless solicitor whose meeting arrangements involve a car, somewhere in the Old Kent Road? Where do people get these ideas about what is normal or acceptable?

I pointed out to him that he wouldn’t do this if it were a doctor. “Me liver is playing up so I’m meeting this bloke in a transit van behind Peckham library who is going to take a quick deekers”.

Sarah BeenyHousing crisis solutions?

But it’s not just at the coalface that I’ve seen some daftness. Planet Property ran a brilliant article this week on TV Property Developer Sarah Beeny’s whacky ideas to solve the housing crisis.

Sarah thinks it is not necessary to build more properties to reduce demand and lower prices. She even claims it is a ‘Ludicrous’ suggestion.

Her idea is for more people to live under one roof and farm the elderly out of cities into the country. She says in one breathtaking piece of clueless generalising:-

“There are so many middle-aged Britons who want to go to work but can’t because they can’t afford childcare. Meanwhile, their parents live alone somewhere else and social services need to tend to them.

The most obvious solution for these problems is to have the grandparents, parents and children all under one roof. The grandparents can childmind, and be cared for by their families”

Continuing to dig deeper into this particular “let them eat cake” philosophical trench that would make a Miss World contestant do a double take she adds:-

“Homes outside of cities are of course cheaper, more available, and the quality of life better than in cities,”

The author of the article summons up more sarcasm than even I could when he ends the article:-

“As I understand it, living in a village or the countryside (it depends where of course) is usually much more expensive. As for multi-generational living – err, I think we already have a version of this, what with youth unemployment being what it is and house prices and rents beyond the reach of many.

We like the Beeny – we really do. But stick to the refurbishment Sarah, and the online dating (incidentally, how many people on advertise themselves as single but living at home with parents, grandparents and assorted siblings? Thought not.)”

Ludicrous emergency calls

North of the border more daftness has also been in the news, covered by BBC Scotland  who report on a list compiled by Letting Protection Service Scotland into the stranger type of emergency calls made by tenants to landlords.  Among the dafter enquiries are:-

  • “My fridge smells”
  • “How do I open the door?”
  • “The toaster is broken and without my girlfriend to cook for me I cant eat without it”.

And my particular favourite, a man who thought his kettle was the house boiler.

Lower Blackheath

Daftness in selling houses has also never been in short supply. Many readers may be familiar with the district of Blackheath, where the London marathon starts each year.

A seriously money-ed up square mile or so but if you stagger out of the Hare and Billet pub one night, dodging the odd Porsche and accidentally slide down the steep hill on the A2 you quickly find yourself in sunny Deptford, land of my birth, discarded kebab wrappers, drunks, street fights and crack.

This has not stopped estate agents in the past listing properties on the periphery of SE8 as “Lower Blackheath”. My mum would be so pleased. So we DIDN’T come from the derelict docks of Deptford after all….we are actually ‘Lower Blackheathians”.

I think the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 has put paid to that nonsense but people have been up to the strangest things to shift their houses as reported in the Independent.

Interesting room decor

Anne Maurice, the House doctor long ago alerted us all to the power of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the house as the purchaser wanders from room to room but apparently things have gone a step further. Seductive silk underwear draped over a Mayfair bed was one trick used by a desperate vendor.

A full jug of Pimms, replete with ice and fruit was another vendor’s trick and a while ago you may recall I reported on the porn statue on the floor of a bedroom being used to sell a house near Manchester

I dread to think what effect a pair of my carefully positioned pants would have on estate agent optimism but maybe we will see a rebalancing of business interests when houses get easier to sell causing a drop off in sales of Janet Reger and Agent Provocateur, or wherever the hell you go to get statues of two people shagging.

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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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