[Ben Reeve Lewis is back!)
Well, I’m back.
I’ve had Pneumonia for weeks, still coughing for England but at last, some energy has returned, along with the ability to concentrate for more than 5 minutes at a time.
‘Rest’, the doctors said but when you’re self-employed whaddya do? No work, no eat.
I was in court last week defending a possession case and seriously getting on the judge’s nerves with my hacking cough and rambling, fevered defence. The tenant was fortunate not to suffer being deported to the colonies and I count myself lucky to have scraped through with an adjournment.
I’m a bit out of the loop on housing news, especially with so much going on with Donald Trump to read about, open-mouthed, but this morning I was amused to see that while I’m spending my time tackling rogue landlords I might be better placed attacking councils.
It transpires that in the past 5 years UK councils have had to pay out £35 million on nearly 11,000 disrepair claims that have been brought against them. The chart attached to the article shows a steady increase in disrepair claims, slightly tailing off in the last financial year.
Inefficiency? Probably….incompetence? Maybe even that but also in the news has been reports that several councils are anticipating having to do their own version of bankruptcy (councils can’t go bankrupt per se) due to several years of enforced spending cuts imposed by the Department of Communities and Local Government who provide funding
The Economist ran a piece about the crisis showing that spending in this financial year is down 22% on 2010. The Mayor of Liverpool pointing out the painful truth when he says:-
“even if he closed all 19 libraries in the city and its nine sports centres, stopped maintaining its 140 parks, halted all highway repairs and street cleaning and switched off 50,000 streetlights, he would save only £68m—which is £22m short of what he must cut by 2020.”
Now the usual trolls will say “Good thing too. Councils, red tape, lazy, bureaucrats” and on and on but what is the alternative? Privatise everything then and see how much that costs you.
Run things like a business? Well, that’s working well in the current comedy sketch in Washington.
Small but valuable
The telegraph reported on London’s smallest house this week which is up for sale @ £600,000 for only 290 square feet. Estate agent Ed McCulloch saying:-
“It is totally unique, a one-off. I’ve not seen anything in Chelsea which has a freehold and is smaller”
Which sounds like a criticism until he adds enthusiastically:
“The property could be worth up to £1 million once it has been renovated”
I doubt the renovations would be that extensive.
Ed McCulloch: “The keys will be available to move in on Saturday morning”
Purchaser: “Thanks Ed, I’ll start renovations straight away and then when I’m done I’ll grab lunch down the pub”.
Mind you, with the kind of landlords I deal with they would divide it up with stud walling and stick 3 families in there.
London landlords profiled
The financial times reported on a survey by the Council for Mortgage Lenders that looked at the different profiles of landlords living in the capital
15% of London’s landlords bought at least one property with cash.
- Almost 50% of landlords had a buy to let mortgage on at least one property, compared to 35% in the rest of the UK.
- London landlords are more likely to use letting agents than elsewhere but they are less likely to opt for full management services.
- London’s landlords are 13% more disposed to buying more properties than the 9% who are thinking of selling.
Also London’s landlords are 50% more likely to become a landlord by moving in with a partner and renting out their home, which is exactly how I became a landlord back in the 90s. The mortgage was low and I let friends move in who were claiming benefits.
Ben’s life as a landlord
I waited patiently for HB to get sorted and received a nice belated cheque for £1,600. “I like this landlord malarkey” I thought and then the same week the boiler blew and guess how much it cost to fix?
I swiftly changed my view. And again later when one of the tenants, again a mate, never opened the window and then complained about condensation mould on her clothes and said she was going to sue me for damp, before promptly leaving owing me money.
But what goes around comes around. I later split with my partner and moved in with the remaining tenant before selling to move in with a new partner in Somerset. 10 years later we split up and my mate who I flat shared with by then owned his own place in Hackney and I moved in with him as my landlord.
Strange old world huh?
I’m sure regular landlord readers will have encountered problems with rent arrears from time to time but how would you fancy £1.5 million?
That’s the amount of money owed by tenants to Inverness Council caused by Universal Credit roll out and set to get worse from April 2017 when those under 21 become ineligible for housing benefit.
Councillor Donnie Kerr urged the council not to evict people for rent arrears, saying that the process was somewhat academic as they simply cant pay and as every landlord knows even with a possession order granted the likelihood of getting the money back is slim to zero and set to get worse.
The council pointing out:
“Until now our policy has been to give advice so they can get a level of income to enable them to bring in more money but universal credit has turned that on its head. We can no longer advise tenants on how to claim more benefits as they won’t be eligible to receive the money- We now have a group of people who are simply not going to have enough income to pay their rent”.
The bald truth as they say. Ah well.
What made me smile this week.
Being able to breathe without pain was nice
See ya next week or maybe the week after, Tessa and I may be alternating weeks