[Ben Reeve Lewis is facing an inspection ...]
Frazzy and I had a property inspection this week. A routine affair for the people doing it I’m sure but a bit of a trauma for us.
An inspector calls
I am new to this renting malarkey, previously always having owned my own home but recession and relationship breakdown has brought me to this rather late in life.
Frazzy owns a house with her elderly disabled mum but she doesn’t earn enough to get a second mortgage and I can’t get one on my own, so renting it is, for the time being.
Inspections are a queer fish.
On the one hand I understand the landlord’s need to make sure that there isn’t anything structural that we failed to notice.
But on the other hand is the admittedly emotive response of middle aged people, a current home owner herself in Frazzy’s case, being treated like children, as if they can’t be trusted not to swing from the chandeliers…..not that we have a chandelier you understand………it fell down last Christmas when we got pissed and swung from it.
Doing the job that I do and seeing the things that I see I can’t help getting the paranoid, sleep disturbing idea that the landlord is looking for ways to get rid of us and nick our deposit. Frazzy too has been losing sleep over it. The curse of Assured Shorthold Tenancies, where you can lose your home without ever having done anything wrong.
The fact that there isn’t a single penny in rent arrears and you could eat your dinner out of the toilet (which of course we frequently do just to make a point) pails into insignificance at the prospect of “An inspector calls”.
Rant over….to the news.
The Mail is outraged
The Daily Mail excelled itself this week with a title that made me laugh out loud
“Outrage after BBC helps paedophile find a luxury home in ‘Escape to the Country’ so he can become an alpaca farmer”
Ha-ha. I like to think that the Daily Mail journos had a laugh coming up with that one. Conversely I hate to think they were genuinely outraged. Having once had the grave misfortune to spend 10 minutes talking to Peter Hitchens at a party you never know.
The very real fact was that after filming, the person in question Darren Robinson was jailed for 30 months on eight counts of having sex with a 15 year old. Robinson apparently hid the impending trial from the programme makers.
Quite why the BBC should in some way be responsible for this beggar’s belief. The article goes on to quite reasonably state:
“House-hunters applying to be on the programme are asked to provide details to the BBC before they are featured on the popular daytime show, made by Boundless Productions.”
“The online application form does not ask for details of spent convictions or for any pending criminal charges.”
And why the hell should they? The Mail typically yells:
“Father-of-one Robinson demanded a four-bedroom house with period features”
Can we just examine that a bit? He wasn’t fetching up at the homelessness unit “Demanding” a 4 bed house for him, his partner and their 1 child. He was buying it, so surely he can “Demand” exactly what he likes?
Cunningly the article also has a section in blue titled “More”, which then links you to two other stories that begin:
“This predator should be in jail for seducing my son”
“Why did police chiefs keep quiet?”
But when you click on the links they are nothing to do with Mr Robinson’s story, although the blue font makes it stand out from the main text and leads you to believe there are further scurrilous connections.
I recently had a chat with a friend from New York who asked in genuine consternation whose views the Daily Mail represents. I won’t repeat my reply here.
And before anyone gets shirty I’m not defending Mr Robinson’s sex crimes, just pointing out how to deconstruct a Daily Mail article.
Choosing a flatmate
Now over to my favourites in dark times, Planet Property who carried another headline that made me laugh out loud:
“Wanted: Awesome, nudist, vegan flatmates with banter”
An article based on the keywords tenants stick into search engines when looking for a new property, culled from research by the ever expanding ‘Spare room.com’.
Some of the more hopeful fantasists search for ‘Food included’, or for some bizarre reasons ‘Naked’.
31% are Irish, Spanish or Christian and 39% are vegetarian cyclists who love music.
If ever there was a cautionary tale about house sharing then the prospect of cosying up with a Christian cyclist who listens to Coldplay would be it for me. I’ll pay the excess rent for my own front door…….behind which I can mend a puncture to the sound of ‘A rush of blood to the head’ , breaking off occasionally to pray to the saviour, to take me into his tender care as soon as possible.
Beds in (posh) sheds
Staying with Planet Property my interest was piqued by their report of a property a mile up the road from me. A shed in Forest Hill SE23 going for £300,000…..yes you read that right.
Planet Property quite rightly point to estate agents Roy Brooks and their reputation for sometimes hilarious “Spade a spade” house descriptions which go back to the real Roy of the 1930s and this current guff:-
“SUPER-STYLED self-contained detached mini house in a rather excellent spot. Design junkies will love this wood-clad home; it’s a mini-house that would suit a young couple perfectly, having huge advantages over similarly priced apartments in the area. Since this is detached, you can turn your music up. You have your own garden – it wraps around the property from the front, along one side and to the rear.”
Have a look at the article tell me….is that a shed or what? My particular favourite there is “Design junkies will love this wood-clad home;” ha-ha. How about describing a tent as “Coco Chanel inspired fabric based dwelling”.
Forest Hill, Brockley, Honor Oak et al have really come on the market in the past couple of years since the East London Line linked Croydon to Islington by way of Brick Lane, Hoxton and Shoreditch.
All the trendy Spanish, vegetarian, Christian cyclists who can’t afford the east end make-over are suddenly heading to south east London, an area previously known only for street crime, crack houses and ‘Dodgy geezers’.
Having spent my entire life growing up in an area which when mentioned, caused people to either giggle or discreetly tell their partners to go outside and make sure they have locked the car I have mixed feelings about the gentrification.
When telling a few people lately that I am from Deptford, land of Millwall FC, I have been noticing a few impressed, arched eyebrows instead of the double checked fastening on the purse. People seem more interested in the notion that growing up around the defunct docks might just have been a shrewd business move on my part, rather than just where I happened to be born.
Such is life when you live in a society obsessed with housing as an investment opportunity, while the notion of a ‘Home’, plays second fiddle.