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Tag Archives: Newsround

Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #144

Ben on a chair[Ben Reeve Lewis'  fingers are feeling sore  ...]

My belated Xmas present from Frazzy finally arrived (see pic) an Epiphone Sheraton as used by John Lee-Hooker and Liam Gallagher and I am as happy as a sandboy.

Whatever the hell one of those is.

Despite being a professional musician for several years back in the 80s I haven’t had a guitar for yonks.

Ben on GuitarAs a consequence my finger ends are frayed and sore and my hands bent into arthritic shapes trying to pick up new and unfamiliar jazz chords. Hey –la.

Use it or lose it funding madness

Its coming up to end of year for local councils, whose accountability runs from 1st April each year.

Government money is given over on a ‘Use it or lose it basis’.

Basically you put in for a pot of say £150,000 to tackle a difficult local problem. If by the end of March you have only used £50,000 of it because you have been really efficient in your work then come the next financial year they knock £100,000 off of your available dosh.

So the incentive is a negative one. Do your job well and you get cut, display a need for more funds and BINGO, the cash tumbles into the waxed cup.

So smart council bods overspend at this time of year in an attempt to rid themselves of poisonous residues.

This is redolent of the general funding madness of the public sector.

Cometh the tax man …

Tax is one similar rule. American politician Benjamin Franklin is famous for saying “There are only two certainties in the world, death and taxes’.

But this basic precept seems to have riled the people at Landlord referenincing  who are preoccupied this week by a letter doing the rounds from our good friends at HMRC  that is currently being sent out as routine to letting agents to fess up on the money they are paying to their client landlords so that the correct tax can be levied.

Many landlords commenting on Landlord Referencing said they had no problem with this as they pay their taxes anyway, the excellent Mary Latham saying:

“The only landlords who have to worry are those who have been breaking the law!”

But the article’s author Paul Routledge offered:

“I am sorry I do not think that it is acceptable either morally or ethically that the tax man thinks it is the job of a letting agent to submit the takings of their landlords to the HMRC. It is abhorrent that a client’s confidentiality can be breached in order to satisfy the tax man’s insatiable desire to squeeze the life out of us all”.

Whilst I have no sympathy with Paul’s view on the abhorrence of the practice I do wholeheartedly agree with his last comment about taxmen squeezing the life out of people.

One rule for the tax man …

I interviewed a man last year who had taken early retirement as a cop so he could use the money to adapt a room for his seriously disabled son. HMRC then decided that they had underestimated his tax and whacked him with a further £20,000 bill, so he had to go back to work and the son remains crammed in an unsuitable room.

In a sane world it would be the rule that if HMRC makes a mistake they should take it on the chin and not go back to decent honest people with “Oh and by the way…..”, while corporations and politicians get away with all manner of tax dodges.

A source close to my heart as Frazzy has spent the last year paying off £10,000 that she was mis-assesed for which has seriously interfered with our abilities to buy fancy food.

Planet property lost in space?

Regular readers will know I am a fan of blog Planet Property which I think is run by the Evening Standard’s Peter Bill but I’m getting a tad concerned as they haven’t had a new article since the 1st Feb.

Planet Property was always a good place to go for some of the wackier and insightful articles. Anyone know what’s going on? Is Peter just on holiday?

Making it easier to evict

Channel 4 blog ran an article on the proposal to shorten eviction times.  It’s a strange and not very well researched piece although my mate Heather who runs Hackney Renter’s Group DIGS gets a nice mention.

Tessa herself recently sat in on a seminar to discuss the pros and cons of changing the law [I think it was the one mentioned on the C4 blog - Ed].

Despite what people might think I’m not averse to it. The length of eviction times plus the snakes and ladders effects of getting it wrong in any tiny detail can drive matters into trench warfare.

No comfort for landlords with nightmare tenants who they cant shift for 6 months and I have to say, speaking as an enforcement officer and one whose job it is sometimes to defeat those possession claims that I meet as many nightmare tenants as I do landlords, which is why I wouldn’t be a landlord if you paid me.

What I would like to see is the shortening of eviction times for tenants who are at fault balanced of against the eradication of the S21 no-fault ground.

I know this is easy to say but legally much harder to do. Tessa will know more about the arguments being bandied about over this.

The DCLG is quoted in the article as saying:

“We have put in place strong measures to ensure that tenants are protected against rogue landlords…

In addition we have set up a working group to look at ways to protect landlords and tenants, to ensure a fair eviction process in the private rented sector and as part of wider efforts to increase the availability of longer tenancies.”

I know that is a quote in isolation but it sounds reasonable enough to me but then I’ve never subscribed to the simplistic myth that Landlord = Bad, Tenant = Good.

[The reasoning behind the move to consider quicker evictions is explained in >> this blog post - its really about changing the system so tenants can get longer security - Ed]

Living the internet life 24/7

The Telegraph this week ran a piece on house prices being adversely affected by slow broadband speeds.

I confess to being an internet nut, Frazzy too. We have her laptop on the go 24/7 in the living room while my PC hums away all day in the back room, neither of which interferes with the persistent ‘Ding’ of emails constantly dropping onto our iPhones.

I even check my phone at 3am when going to the toilet to make sure I’m not missing anything and even while I’m sleeping Frazzy is often sitting up in the dark using her Kindle for god knows what.

So I get the broadband speed argument. It would lessen the appeal of a property dramatically.

When searching for weekends away we look at pictures of gorgeous cottages nestling in the hills of the peak district or the Scottish highlands and immediately contact the owner to find out what the broadband situation is before we book.

The Telegraph article reports that Rightmove now adds a broadband speed checker to it’s property listings. Quite right too, I mean how the hell are you going to be able to stop yourself going insane by trying to remember the name of some obscure actor in an old Bogart film without having instant access to IMDB?

Or how can I work out the fingering to a dflat 13 minor 7th without clicking the mouse?

See ya next week.

Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #138

Ben on a chair

Ben on finding flatmates, rising damp and hipsterification, But did you watch him on the telly?Continue Reading

Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround # 129

Ben on a chair

Ben Reeve Lewis learns how to track you down on the internet, and is worried about the prospect of having to re-write all his training manualsContinue Reading

Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #128

Ben on a chair

Ben talks about racial discrimination, illegal subletting and the phenomenon of Rent to RentContinue Reading

Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #121

Ben on a chair

Ben considers austerity, naive defences, B&B horrors and the Foxtons floatationContinue Reading

Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #120

Ben on a chair

[Ben Reeve Lewis is depressed at the pointlessness of it all ...] I was training the good people of Bournemouth Homelessness unit on Wednesday. I have been in some swanky training rooms before but this one had a bit of class, the wedding room of the town hall. See picture as some of the delegates startedContinue Reading

Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #116

Ben on a chair

Ben talks of royal babies, James Cordon telling it like it is, signs of house prices and have you read his book yet?Continue Reading

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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