[Ben Reeve Lewis is back to normal ...]
Well the tree is down and outside for collection and the living room is back to normal.
Not a glittering Xmas this year, too much to sort out and to be honest it became just another thing on the ‘To-do list’ for Frazzy and I with only the Saturday to sit in a dressing gown and refuse to move from the settee, apart from to change discs on my wonderful ‘Treme’ boxed set (season two on it’s way from Play.com as we speak).
Life in the homelessness unit didn’t take long to swing back to normal and just after New Year we were back to the hoards with their suitcases, bin liners, frayed tempers and unrealistic expec tations.
Consequently back came the police and out came our security guys’ body armour as tempers started to flare again. SNAFU as they say.
The housing press too is back to it’s usual round of misery, anticipation of rent rises, rent arrears debt and food-banks.
London Property Prices
Planet Property informs us all this week about new research from the Said Business School of Oxford that explains why London’s house prices are always on the up. Apparently in times of foreign turmoil the capital is seen as a “Safe Haven” for investment. Professor Ramadorai stated:
“London areas with a one standard deviation higher share of residents originating from a particular country, house prices were nearly half a percent higher in months following trouble in the country’s political situation.”
So there is the thing we need for financial growth, not economic migration or a sound housing policy….just a few handy foreign wars.
Occam’s Razor in action, the simplest hypothesis is always the most useful. Ramadorai goes on to say:
“The potential to identify future unusual price rises using our method, and the implications for global capital flows suggests that our research could make a useful contribution to policy discussions.”
Jeez don’t tell Boris Johnson that Professor…… He’ll have us invading Singapore so he can sell more units in One the Elephant.
The Wilsons are not unsual
Last week I mentioned Mr and Mrs Wilson of Kent and their decision not to rent to HB tenants anymore. They have been quite the media tarts all week in fact with everyone from the Telegraph to the Morning Star running articles about them but t’would appear that they are far from unusual.
Over on the Shelter Blog Zorana Halpin wrote about the next housing buzz word to follow on from “Generation Rent”, the notion of “The Unrentables” who she describes as:
“A subset of the 10 million renters in Britain, who find it increasingly hard to find a landlord that will rent a property to them.”
Going on to say:
“Impossibly high rents in some parts of the country mean more and more people in work are needing housing benefit (HB) to meet housing costs, a trend that shows no sign of slowing. Over a third (34%) of those claiming housing benefit in the private rented sector are now working.”
As Zorana accurately points out, the Wilson’s decision is a purely economic one, which is why I don’t blame them but the social implications of this growing popular trend is very worrying when you look at the amount of renting households who are in employment, not Cameron and IDS’s dole scroungers, just people getting crap wages.
Last week HB Welcome posted a comment on Newsround questioning my assertion that rents were ‘Runaway’ and were actually below inflation. I didn’t respond there because I wanted to mention it this week.
It’s pointless getting into a debate about percentages as nobody seems to agree on the figures and the level of increase isn’t the issue. It is really plain old affordability (Occam’s razor again) as the Shelter article illustrates this and please don’t counter with “Well Shelter would say that wouldn’t they?”.
The Telegraph “Would say” what they say as well, as would The Beano, the issue of the affordability of housing costs is widely accepted as a problem regardless of political persuasions. Ms Halpin writes:
“At the heart of this dismal phenomenon is an affordability problem. The combination of soaring housing costs, stagnant wages and benefit cuts make it inevitable that more and more ordinary people will struggle to find a decent place to live”.
Succinctly put. Whether or not rent increases are above or below inflation isn’t the point, it is part of a package of F**k-ups that is driving homelessness and misery and offices like the one I work in are the best barometers for that coz we have to pick up the pieces.
Meanwhile, over in council land Haringey have been busy bees haven’t they? Tessa threw a story my way via Twitter about their prosecution of a local landlord who had converted a property without planning permission and didn’t re-convert to the authority’s satisfaction, resulting in a massive £312,000 slap on the legs.
To be honest even I was shocked by the severity of that one, pleased as I would have been had I gotten it myself.
I know landlords far worse than Mr Izzit but what the hell, a result is a result and more than a few rubbish landlords in the borough will be thinking twice now.
But if you think that is extreme think on this Mark Alexander’s Property118 site told us all about the case of a tenant in Ireland who ate his landlord’s heart and Lungs.
Not even Shelter, hardly friends to PRS landlords would advocate that one. Obviously an injunction not good enough then.
Ben on the telly
Finally I urge all my regular readers to Watch BBC 1 at 7:30pm on Monday night. The ‘ Inside Out ‘ programme apparently features me in all my glory, talking about dodgy landlords hotwiring electricity meters and by-passing gas supplies in an attempt to suck more money out of their tenants who pay rent inclusive of bills that they obviously don’t themselves pass on.
I have filmed seven different TV programmes in the past 18 months on landlord tenant issues, including two Panoramas and a Channel 4 Dispatches and ended up on the cutting room floor of all but one of them.
The only common link I can think of is my habitual wearing of Hawaiian shirts, which maybe play havoc with monitors in the editing suite.
This time I am wearing a sober shirt and my only suit jacket that I reserve for court and that seemed to get me in.
I saw a clip of myself at the tail end of this week’s edition as an “and next week” item but I have no idea how much air time I fill up.
I just hope that they don’t show the embarrassing bit of me walking through Catford town centre, trying to pretend the camera wasn’t following me when some local wag said out of the corner of his mouth “Prick” as I trotted past.
Celebrity 0….real life 3.
See ya next week