[Ben Reeve Lewis has an interesting job ...]
Its an interesting life as a TRO, you see some pretty weird things but like any job the leftfield, mad stuff becomes routine after a while.
Its only when sharing a commonplace anecdote with friends that their astonishment reminds you what an unusual job you do.
Training the young
A couple of months back we had a 15 year old work experience kid with us. He looked bored most of the time doing data inputting or stuffing things in envelopes, so every time something good came up I invited him out with me.
Like a latter-day Starsky and Hutch we kicked in doors together, went to court, served injunctions and climbed through the windows of a cannabis factory (or rather, I got him to climb through in case there was a dangerous dog inside……”Don’t tell your mother” I said, winking conspiratorially and thereby ushering him into the secret big boy’s club….I’m nothing if not a responsible adult)
At the end of the fortnight he was adamant he wanted to be a TRO when he leaves school.
But this week I got hit with a couple of surprises though that made even me raise a curious eyebrow.
Why, oh why?
One of our notorious landlords, famous for cramming as many people as possible into the tiniest spaces had one of his numerous properties repossessed and bought at auction by a new owner.
Who put builders in to renovate.
As they pulled up the floorboards, they found that people had been living in a basement but there was no access point for it other than the photo you see to the side. They had been squeezing themselves through the gap.
And then I got called by neighbours to a house where it transpired the landlord had been keeping some illegal immigrants in a shed and using them to dig out an unauthorised basement conversion that was sagging and causing the two houses either side to street leaning in.
What is this obsession with cramming people into every conceivable space?
Planet Property ran an article on this new phenomenon of digging extensions down instead of up
Apparently its all proving to be a bit of a headache for insurers where 28% of sites they visit the building is going below the water table or discovering water tables they didn’t know were there.
Pipes and cabling are the other difficulty and prove much more costly to repair that those above ground or in lofts.
NHBC’s Group Head of House-Building Standards Mark Jones, said:
“In recent times, we have seen basements once again become a relevant and attractive addition to many houses.
But as our claims figures and experience show, basement claims by their very nature are difficult to investigate and costly to repair, which can result in significant disruption to homeowners”.
And while every is getting “jolly batey”, as posh people used to say, about beds in sheds one irate landlord has appealed to the National Planning Inspectorate about Waltham Forest council’s refusal to allow him to let a garden shed to a tenant.
The Inside Housing article reports on Mr Mohammed Khan who has a property in Leytonstone who had received a council enforcement notice last year on a shed with a double bed , a TV and a wardrobe which he tried to rename a “Garden room’ ha-ha.
Not to be thrown by such obvious linguistic shenanigans. Clyde Loakes of Waltham Forest council said:-
‘Frankly, this practice smacks of landlords looking to maximise the amount of money they can make get by packing as many tenants into a property as is possible, even if they ultimately end up housing them in what are glorified sheds,’
Although he has lost his appeal he doesn’t have to knock the shed down, he just cant use it as living accommodation but what’s the bet that given a few months it will discreetly become a home again.
In support of beds in sheds?
Reading down the comments in the article I found a supporter for Mr Khan, one James Joseph Doyle who says:-
“We have to consider that the tenant of this ‘Shed’ has willingly agreed to live in this type of accommodation, most likely due to the lower price of rent.
The landlord is looking to make a quick buck, however is still offering a service to the small proportion of the housing market that are more concentrated on financial gain than short term living conditions”.
Well James I have to say, having been involved in more than a few cases where people are living in sheds, outhouses, water tanks, shipping containers and even this week, under the floor, a fiscal choice isn’t the main driver for them.
In fact “Willingly agreed” isn’t a term I would use either. People end up in these things when backed into a variety of corners that they would really rather not be in.
Health and safety
And there is the safety angle too. In October 2012 the BBC reported on figures from the London Fire Brigade:-
“More than one person has died or been seriously injured every month in the past three years in fires in buildings where people should not have been living”
If Mr Doyle is making a call for a pragmatic approach to housing choice it would appear that in the mad scramble for a dwindling amount of affordable properties he is not alone and may be the harbinger of a new ethos to the subject.
Murder v. subsidence?
Writing on Money Saving Expert Michael Connolly reports on a survey carried out among 13,000 participants which shows that whereas 43% would choose not to buy a property in which there had been a murder 78% would be more concerned with subsidence
Another thing this week that made me raise a Roger Moore-esque eyebrow.
The article links you to this property advertised on Rightmove where, if you scroll down a bit you will read:-
“Buyers are asked to search the history of this property”
This is because it is the flat where notorious serial killer Dennis Nilson despatched several male companions, cooking one’s head in a saucepan I recall and stuffing various discarded remains down the drains.
This probably explains why it is on the market at £100,000 less than normal value.
Quick Mr Khan…..Mr Doyle…….an investment opportunity not to be missed. Forget beds in sheds, they are becoming so last year…..so recherché when compared to this, a prime example of where people might ‘willingly agree’ to live.
Anyone fancy forming a consortium and buying Auschwitz? We could get it for a snip and rent it back to Westminster Council to use as temporary accommodation for homeless families.
Just as long as there is no subsidence, we don’t want to be throwing money away do we?