[Ben Reeve Lewis talks to landlords...]
I did two presentations in the same day this week.
One in the morning for Westminster Briefing, talking to a bunch of senior managers from councils and housing associations about the effects of welfare reforms on housing.
Then in the evening I spoke to a bunch of landlords at David Lawrenson’s Lettings Focus event at the Devereux Arms in Lincolns Inn Fields.
Talking to Landlords
What was heartening about the evening talk, apart from making the acquaintance of the excellent Samantha Collett of popular housing blog “What Sam saw today” was just chatting to landlords about their experiences and concerns.
Given many of the complete tosspots who I have to deal with in the day job it’s always a nice reminder that most landlords are fine, decent people.
Of course my tosspots wouldn’t be seen anywhere near an event where they could learn a bit about the business and network with other people working hard to get it right. They are too busy trying to screw an extra £10 out of their tenant for spurious reasons.
Like the landlord from last week who, having had the electricity supply to his rental property disconnected for running it on a stolen meter (He charges the tenant rent inclusive of bills but obviously doesn’t pay a bill) he then installed a noisy generator in the back garden and charged the tenants extra for the petrol and the cost to him of hiring it….cheeky bastard.
A plug for Sam
So lets start with a heads up for the very funny Sam and a plug for her new book “How to buy property at auction”
Not much of a plug to be honest as I haven’t got a copy nor read it and to be honest it wouldn’t make much sense to me as I cant even afford to buy a monopoly house but there you go. Good luck with it Sam.
Ministers coming and going
Now. This week has had some very notable news hasn’t it? The sacking of a housing minister and a shadow housing minister at the same time!!!!!!!!!!!
Cant let that go without devoting the rest of column to it.
Was there some significance in the timing of both sackings? Something we don’t know about yet? Turgid tales of love trysts or brown envelopes in underground car parks?
Didn’t Oscar Wilde say something along the lines of “To lose one housing minister is careless, to lose two is downright good luck”.
Carelessness or good luck?
Lets face it they hardly moved the earth did they? Although Prisk got a decent heads up obituary from Grania Long of the CIH who said to Inside Housing:
“He also brought a good deal of personal integrity to the role and a careful and thoughtful approach informed by a real understanding of the housing system and housing markets reflecting his background as a property professional”
Fair enough. I never met the guy and I don’t work at a policy level but I’m not aware of any major changes he ushered in, certainly nothing that would impact on the lives of the poor sods who fetch up at my office every day and to be honest, that’s what I want from a housing minister.
Well Grania Long commented in a slightly different style in Inside Housing saying:
“He engaged very well with housing professionals to understand the issues we are facing and to try to come up with potential solutions to our housing crisis. “
Hmmmm. A tad non-committal don’t you think? Like a comment in a school report. I remember getting regular comments in mine that would say:
“Ben is an intelligent child and works well in class”
Of course the other comment I got regularly in my school reports said:
“Could do much better if he stopped talking and messing about”
Well I’ve earned a decent living for the past 20 years by talking and messing about so up yours.
Two for one
But returning to the Prisk business what I find extraordinary is that he has been replaced by two ministers sharing the same post. Kris Hopkins and Stephen Williams.
I recall that the Witchfinder general was called Hopkins but what was the name of his sidekick? Was it Williams? That would be spooky.
Why two? Is it a demanding job? Can one not be trusted on his own?
Whilst cautiously welcoming Vincent Price…..sorry, Hopkins into the roll with a school report style comment of his own:
“We look forward to working closely with him to put housing on top of the political agenda.”
Nat Fed’s David Orr went on to say:
‘However, we’re surprised and disappointed that, given the scale of the housing crisis and how crucial housing is to the country’s long-term economic recovery, the Government has decided that the housing brief should be taken up at an Under-secretary of State rather than Minister of State level.’
Slimy and unpleasant
What I really enjoyed more than anything about this new appointment are the comments of fellow Conservative MP Nadine Dorries who commented with nary a whiff of school report tact:
‘Very sad to see Kris Hopkins promoted. One of parliaments slimiest, nastiest MPs. Really. Awful. Decision.”
Ha-ha tell it like it is Nadine, don’t pull your punches.
The above comment went out on twitter but probably bowing to pressure of the Chief Whip she removed it later on but did manage to leave up there:
“Kris Hopkins is frequently publicly unpleasant about colleagues”.
Hmmmm. An MP who is slimy and unpleasant to colleagues?!?!?! But isn’t that all of them? Cant see why Hopkins should be singled out poor lad.
Nadine in the news
Following the thread of news connected to my new heroine Ms Dorries I went to the Huffington Post who reported more gems. Apparently when Hopkins called for the party to unite behind Cameron she said:
“Pass the sick bag”
And she topped the charts with a wonderfully acid plea for the PM to give Hopkins a new role:
“Will the PM please give the obsequious Kris Hopkins MP a job, a PPS, anything his begging is painful.”
Ha-ha. I’m going to keep my eye on her. She’s shaping up to become the Tory party’s Brian Clough.
See ya next week.