[Ben Reeve Lewis shares a platform with the pros ...]
Last night I attended the inaugural meeting of the Islington Private Tenants Group in the rather grand council chamber of Islington Town Hall.
How the pros do it
Sharing a Q&A panel with Jeremy Corbyn MP I had the opportunity to see first hand how the pros do it.
He stood rather grandly with his right hand on the pommel of a seat and held his glasses in his left hand whilst staring into the middle distance looking wistful and statesman-like.
Unlike me he doesn’t forget where he is at, trip over his words or make inappropriate jokes about breasts that makes people glance at the floor in embarrassment.
What surprised me was that everyone kept digging at the Labour party’s lack of support of tenants. It took me 10 minutes to realise that he is a Labour MP. I thought he was a Lib Dem. Shows you how much interest I have in party politics.
Anyway good luck to Laurie and Eleanor, it was a great start. If you fancy getting in touch here’s their website
Rent control is back
Jeremy Corbyn is launching a private members bill next month where rent control……yes I’ll say that again “RENT CONTROL” is firmly at the top of the list.
At the meeting we discussed this and the idea that whenever the matter is raised landlords instinctively say it will drive out investment but one quiet elderly fella calmly put his hand up and said that when he was young rents were capped at 20% of average income.
I asked him if there was a shortage of properties and he shook his head and replied “You could move from one property to another in a day”.
Will Jeremy’s bill end up on the books? Hang on………..just looking out of the window…………..is that a pig I see up in the sky there?
Transparency in sight
But at least an end is in sight for the transparency of letting agent fees. Money saving expert informed us this week that following a ruling by the ASA earlier this year by the 1st of November letting agents must start making clear their non-optional or additional fees.
The example they provide is:-
“A fixed admin fee of £150 per tenant should be displayed in ads as “£1500pcm + £150 admin fee per tenant” or similar.”
Going on to add:-
“If non-optional fees can’t be calculated in advance – because they depend on individual circumstances, for example – then ads must clearly state the nature of these and how they will be calculated.”
All of this will come as a great shock to several letting agents on my patch who, from the complaints I get, learn their fee pricing skills at evening classes for creative writing.
One complainant told me that he was asked to give only £100 to secure a property and then received an apologetic phone call telling him the landlord had pulled out and to go and collect his money. When he got there they deducted £60 as an admin fee.
Wholly questionable on it’s own but when you add that to the 10 or so other complaints I’ve received about this letting agent in the past few months it is becoming most certainly criminal.
Imagine doing 10 or 20 of those a month? Nice little earner as Arfur Daley used to say.
Why we move house
Best article of the week came courtesy of the excellent Planet Property reporting on a survey by removal company Armishaws on why we move house. Attractively illustrated for once instead of just dry pie charts and graphs, although they have them too.
- 15% of us do it because we want a better home
- 11% want cheaper
- 9% because of a new job or transfer
- 5% got married
- 5% want to own their own home
- 5% to be closer to work
- 5% want a better neighbourhood with less crime
- 2% for health reasons
- 32% other unspecified reasons
We also learn that the average Brit moves house 8 times in a lifetime.
This came as a surprise to me because I’m currently installed in my 38th home since birth. Makes you wonder why I bother. I might as well buy a removal van and just live in that. I obviously spend most of my time in one anyway, the result of parents with itchy feet who dragged me to Australia, different parts of London and the North East, which set up a pattern for both me and my sister for wanderlust.
A trait evidently set to continue as Frazzles is also travel mad and is dropping heavy hints that she will one day like to retire to her family home in Barbados with milk-bottle-white-guy-who-doesn’t-do-heat-very-well in tow.
Yay! HMO Landlady is back!
And I’m not the only one to be affected by moving. The excellent HMO Landlady is back in the saddle and on excellent form reporting on 5 of her HMO tenants who have handed in their notice.
She rather wonderfully and pragmatically says:-
“I had a lovely question from someone asking what software I used to keep track of rents. I had to reply that I use the simple record keeping of “if it ain’t there, they ain’t paid”
And made me choke on my Kit Kat this morning with the following tale:-
“The one I shall miss the most is Greg. His girlfriend is pregnant which means he’ll have three different children by three different women.
The latest one has been physically and mentally abusing him, daring him to hit back so she can report him (again) to the police for domestic abuse – all because he refuses to move in with her. In our phone call today he’s decided to relocate with his job and get a vasectomy. To be honest, he’s so good looking I’d probably let him make ME pregnant!”
Haha. Welcome back Serena.
Our poor record on housing & human rights
Finally the big news of the week is the UN report on Britains housing situation from a human rights perspective.
Inside Housing talk of an interview with Raquel Rolnik of the UN who is described as a “Rapporteur” whatever the hell that is.
She told the Guardian:-
“That Britain’s record on housing was getting worse from a human rights perspective.”
A rant from Shapps (remember him?)
On the BBC Grant Shapps has gone mental, criticising Rachel for overuse of the word bedroom tax and generally telling her to butt out. [Yay! I can use my Shapps pic again! Ed]
Someone pissing in your swimming pool Grant? My heart bleeds. You may insist on it being called the “Spare room subsidy” but the electorate…remember those guys who pay your wages??? Call it ‘Bedroom tax’.
In his smiley faced, reasonable, ordinary guy BBC rant he lays into the ‘Rapporteuer,’ slagging off Ms Rolnik’s home country (Brazil’s) record on poor housing in an attempt to divert attention from the fact that the UK may well have breached human rights with the ‘spare room subsidy’.
Dear Mr Pot….yours sincerely, Mr Kettle.
Its called the Bedroom Tax
Government keep bigging up figures that talk about the amount of money being saved and the larger properties being freed-up by Bedroom tax…..Yes “BEDROOM TAX” mate, completely ignoring the undisputed statistics that social landlords simply don’t have the smaller properties to downsize people to, thus increasing repossessions and debt,
With all this UN involvement does this mean we will we see UN peacekeepers on our streets? Light blue helmets attending evictions, trying to dissuade bailiffs? Teams searching the housing estates of Glasgow looking for WMDs?
Maybe heavily armed American SEALS will try to track down Ian Duncan-Smith as he goes on the run, eventually to be dragged from a hole in the ground 9 months later with a long flowing beard and made to account for his crimes against humanity.
You would have to leave the safety catch off wouldn’t you?………just for a split second……ooops, sorry guys, was that me?…..anyone got some paper towels?????