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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #135

Ben on a chair[Ben Reeve Lewis on Christmas...]

Yo Ho Ho Merry Xmas one and all.

Oh sorry, I realise as I review that introduction that ‘Yo Ho Ho’ is a Pirate thing isn’t it?

Ho Ho Ho then, far more seasonal and preferably without the obligatory gizzard splitting.

The Court of Appeal’s little Xmas gift for landlords

Well Santa has climbed down the collective landlord chimney early this year hasn’t he?, with his gift to landlords all, the case of Spencer v Taylor ably covered by Tessa earlier this week so I wont labour the point here.

Of course he will probably get shot by tenants rights groups as he climbs back aboard his sleigh but that’s another matter.

Suffice to say that landlords the length and breadth of the land will be throwing open the frosty windows, beaming at the world and yelling ‘Merry Xmas’ to any passing boy accompanied by a tossed shilling to buy a turkey for the Cratchet family. (If you haven’t seen Alistair Sim’s Scrooge, then the metaphor is wasted on you)

Of course all us lot in housing advice land are mumbling into our bowls of gruel as one of the main tactics for defeating possession claims and preventing homelessness has just had the plug pulled.

All those lost possession claims will be no more and the homelessness units will start filling up with even more new cases.

But it’s Xmas so no hard feelings. Ya win some ya lose some. We’ll get you at playtime anyway.

A Happy Christmas to you too …

HF Xmas cardThe Court of Appeal are not the only ones in a mood of festive benevolence,

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham have been sending out the most wonderful Xmas card to their tenants (see picture).

Talk about a back-handed gesture of good will. “Don’t overindulge this Christmas, pay your rent”. All very insulting but to be honest I found it quite funny because I have one of those types of humour.

Trying to back-pedal on the whole affair H&F’s councillor Johnson said:-

“The message was deliberately hard-hitting but not intended to be insulting”.

But then he went and spoiled it all by saying something stoopid like:-

“It would give me no pleasure to evict people in the new year because they’re behind on their rent – eviction proceedings begin when a tenant is £250 in arrears.”

Oops, the threat goes back in.

Christmas card crackers

My twisted humour got a further chuckle through the collected landlord Christmas cards on Property Investment Project.  Some of the examples being:-

“Dear tenant, Hope you have a great Xmas and new year. This year would have been tough if I didn’t have you paying my mortgage”

“Dear tenant, seasons greetings. Hope Santa brings you everything you deserve. May need the property back after New Year. Will keep you informed”

“Dear tenant, Merry Xmas, hope you have a great one. Rent is due on the 27th as usual”

HMO Landlady

HMO Landlady’s tenants have also been brimming with human kindness  as one of her HMO tenants George managed to get hold of a Chelsea team shirt with her son’s name on the back, signed by all the players.

As usual the article is a gem of humour but also makes you stop and think for a minute that sometimes that yawning gulf between landlord and tenant can be bridged, albeit “Stamford bridged”….I thang you!

A present from Newham

Not to be outdone, Newham council have been doling out presents to the community in the form of letters to landlords who haven’t signed up to their licensing scheme, promising a £20,000 fine for non compliance. Ho Ho Ho….Merry Christmas.

This information brought to our attention by Landlord referencing  further advises that Nat West are refusing mortgages on buy to let deals in the borough because of the licensing scheme.

This is one of the reasons I am not a fan of the Newham project. I get the general idea but am concerned about the collateral damage outweighing the bonuses.

Christmas is coming for Ben’s Bad Landlords …

I run into Christmas in my new job as PRS Enforcement Coordinator. We don’t need scatter gun licensing, we know who our bad guys are, we just form multi agency hit-squads and take them down, leaving the good guys in place.

We have many Christmas presents for our criminal landlords, in fact our sack is overflowing with them and I cant wait to see their little eyes shining with excitement.

Time on their hands?

And perhaps the most pointless housing Christmas present this year, to rival Aunt Sally’s jumper with two odd length sleeves can be found on Rentonomy, who obviously have a lot of time on their hands  or spent too long at their staff Christmas drink.

They have constructed a map of London areas who have the most and least letters of the word Christmas, in their respective names. Rickmansworth being the most Christmassy with all letters of ‘Christmas’ in their name, West Wickham losing out for want of an ‘R’.

You really need to get out more.

Ben’s list

Finally my own, genuine seasons greetings to my housing list.

  • Tessa and Graeme, my partners in Easy Law Training Ltd.
  • All our ELT customers over the past year or so.
  • Hannah Fearn at the Guardian who chops my pieces to bits before publication (she calls it editing)
  • Bill and Dave the EDF Revenue lads. May next year see us climbing through the windows of yet more cannabis factories together…..if Dave’s knees hold out.
  • HMO Landlady, long may she make me laugh.
  • David Lawrenson, a good egg in the property investment business.
  • Mark Alexander at Property 118 for always giving me a heads up. No I’m not paying you.
  • Laurie and Eleanor at Islington Private renters group. Go girls.
  • Heather and Beth at Hackney Renters DIGS. Onwards and upwards.
  • All my contacts in the Met police who dump several new cases a week on my doorstep.
  • Judges Brooks, Burns and Brett at my local county court who I can always rely on for a favourable result without resorting to bribery. Judges with heart.
  • All the shitbag landlords who keep me in work and finally….
  • Newsround readers.

Merry Christmas one and all.

About the author

Ben Reeve-Lewis Ben is a TRO for a London Local Authority, a housing law trainer, an author on housing law who writes regularly 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.

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8 Responses to Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #135

  1. HMO Landlady says:

    Ah, thanks Ben! Thank you for the most heartfelt Christmas wishes. Let’s hope that, this Christmas Day, you can put down your crowbar, cross into No Man’s Land and meet the enemy in the spirit of goodwill before taking up your arms on the 27th and continue to fight the perpetual greed of rogue landlords and weed cultivating tenants. I wish you continued success in 2014 and look forward to reading more of your opinions on the housing market where the words “capital growth, high yield and market boom” have no place.

  2. Ben Reeve-Lewis says:

    Cheers Serena. Lets both get funnier in 2014, see if we can out do each other.

    Greedy rogue landlords and weed cultivating tenants about sums up my day job. Sometimes I just want to leave them all to it and go and work in Sainsburys.

  3. Ben Reeve-Lewis says:

    I just forgot to add Penny (Renter Girl) Anderson to my list of seasons Greetings. Keep up the good fight P.

  4. Hmolandlady says:

    They’re no better: My Sainsburys Local takes £50,000 a week. I know that because one day they left the office door open and had written the sales figures week by week in huge letters. Stick to your day job, it’s more fun.

  5. Merry Christmas Ben look forward to more of your reviews in the New Year. :-)

  6. Ben Reeve-Lewis says:

    @Serena Youre right, my day job is quite fun actually. I have been coordinating some action with Police, planning enforcement, environmental health against a string of shop owners in my area with death trap properties above and I’m genuinely looking forward to the strategy meeting in the new year when we plan how to hit them all at the same time. Not to mention the actual raid on 5 shops at once. Thats my Xmas present.

    @Sandra Thanks Sandra. I always appreciate supportive comments from landlords and agents who understand what I do. I get really depressed by the idiots who think that because my job is to represent tenants that I am anti landlord or that I am some sort of bleeding heart who believes everything I am told. 23 years in, my naivete wore out after the first 3 years.

  7. Jamie says:

    Sincere wishes for a happy Christmas and New Year to you Ben.

    I note Waltham Forest Council are consulting on a landlord licensing scheme to be introduced next year. Their proposal includes statistics (scoff!) which apparently demonstrate a ‘correlation’ between privately rented homes and antisocial behaviour in the area. The fact there are more owner-occupied homes seems to have escaped them, as does the basic fact that correlation does not imply causation.

    They propose charging £500 per licence per property(!) How can they justify this when the Scottish licensing scheme can be run for £55 per property?

    The proposed license conditions are draconian. E.g. the landlord must provide the scheme with a copy of the Electrical Installation Condition Report and has 12 months to carry out all remedial works and reccommendations in teh report within 12 months. It takes no account of the risk categories or cost to landlords. Many category 3 or 4 recommendations have very little to do with safety and more to do with electricians making more money.

    I don’t know why everyone is banging on about the need for more regulation when councils are just bringing it in via the back door thorough the conditions in their licensing schemes.

    Bah Humbug!

  8. Ben Reeve-Lewis says:

    Haha Not in my borough Jamie.

    I lobbied long and hard to make sure we didnt go down the scatter gun licensing route.

    Now we just have our multi agency taskforce where we identify our known suspects and target with all we’ve got.

    When we have our repeat offenders under control I want to start building the self licensing model being practised in Southend on Sea. Regulation comes from with the landlord community and agents.

    Each property has a unique registration number in the window and if there are local problems with it residents and tenants can call the scheme, quote the number and the partnered landlords and agents work to resolve it, the council only stepping in to help resolve disputes if required.



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