Royal Wedding Issue 😉
(Our investigative reporter Ben Reeve Lewis is back on the job, trying unsuccessfully to find a wedding free zone – Ed)
I finally have the internet back on, after nearly 3 weeks in our new place. You would think, in this day and age that all that would need to happen was for someone to hit “Enter”. Apparently it took longer because we already had the account and were just transferring it from the previous address. If we were new customers it would have been much quicker they said. The logic defies belief.
But at least being back on-line gives me an excuse to not have to watch endless programmes on the royal bloody wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-royalist in the conventional sense…..I just don’t care one way or another!!!!!!!!!
So like a greyhound, once the door has been released and the rabbit is running I catapulted online (Yes I do rather sadly love the internet) and in my fevered research for this week’s piece I came across several letting agent websites who specialise in short lets for big occasions and was surprised to see how many people are renting just for the royal wedding. I have a mate who lives near the Olympic site who is seriously thinking of going on holiday for that month. The rents being charged are staggering.
You would think that some enterprising homeless person would be able to rent out their pitch on the wedding route………….ah but I forgot, Westminster Council invoked a bye-law and outlawed rough sleeping didn’t they?. I hope Wills and Kate realise how their wedding day is stifling free enterprise…………..as well as my will to live. [Wil to live – Geddit?? Hur Hur – sorry, getting carried away there, Ed]
As I greedily devoured my Google links after the enforced break I was shocked to read new figures from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) showing that the national average deposit for a property is currently at £2,172. This is more than I previously considered. According to ARLA this is because there has been a growth in the amount of larger, family sized properties coming onto the rental market because fewer families can afford to buy.
I got into an interesting debate last week on this site with someone over deposit protection matters when a landlord decides they want the tenant to leave without warning and the tenant has to find the new deposit upfront because of the long delay it takes the DPS to release undisputed deposits. Landlords are not going to allow new tenants to move in without their deposit, so the wise tenant would have their back-up deposit ready early on in the letting.
If we take ARLA’s figures at face value then a would-be tenant (who doesn’t otherwise have savings, a credit card or a kind friend) would need £4,344 in deposits (one actual and one back-up in case the break clause is suddenly activated) and a month’s rent in advance of say £1,500. So nearly 6 grand just to get into a rented property in major city areas…….there are many purchase schemes around at the moment available through social housing providers where that sort of money would allow you to buy!!!!!!!!!!. [Course there is also the £5 million per year on security Ben, don’t forget that, and the cost of an extra field to land the helicopter in .. Ed]
On a different tip, and back on familiar ground with the current great debate, Chief exec of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips was reported in last month’s Inside Housing magazine to be quite optimistic about the new cuts to housing benefit in the purported aim to drive down rents, which he said would benefit Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) families who are in work. His report said “‘the policy may benefit working minority families if it drives down rents overall, since those minority families are far more likely to be in rented accommodation’.
I have a lot of time for Trevor Phillips, but on this one I can’t help thinking that he has had one too many over a sumptuous lunch with Lord Freud. I have not met a single landlord – and I meet many every week – who says they will drop their rents under pressure from the government. [More likely they will be gazumping – Ed]
However, this week the Race Equality Foundation kicked back against Trev’s views with a report that stated that BME families would be disproportionately affected by housing benefit cuts. The Department for Work and Pensions is on the case though and has announced that they are setting up a yearlong review to see how benefit cuts affects BME Families.
Sue Beasor, a benefits consultant who wrote the original report really hit the nail on the head when she said ‘At the moment, what happens is we are getting the policy, and then they release the impact assessment afterwards. I think it would be a lot more helpful if they would do the assessment first.’ I couldn’t agree more Sue. Not thinking things through seems to be the modus operandi of this government on every level. I am no expert on the new localism bill but I know enough to see it is going to be a car crash of a legislation when it comes in. [No, no, it’ll be fine, the Big Society will sort it, see issue 1# .. Ed]
At the end of Terminator Sarah Connor announces “There’s a storm coming”. There is, and the storm is going to be the clash of high rents and the lowering of housing benefit. If you save billions in housing benefit only to have to spend it again elsewhere, for instance in homelessness provision, what is the point???? [Well I would have thought it was obvious – you give out a lot of publicity about how much savings you have made on the one and bury the other deep in the departmental dungeons … Ed]
But it’s ok, because Prince Charles himself is going to roll up his sleeves and jump in.
At a recent event at a former homelessness hostel he said “In the last six months the number of homeless people has begun to rise and I fear this trend will continue. It is estimated that there are some 20,000 people in this country who are either homeless, or who have experienced homelessness, who could be back at work but are not.”
Former head of Barclays and now head of Business Action on Homelessness, John Varley said in response “Businesses should be part of the solution – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it offers great business benefits.” So maybe there is a master plan after all…….once the royal wedding is over!!
So I turned to me missus, the inestimable Ms Frazzy Cox, herself a BME from Barbados, and asked her for an informed opinion on the Phillps/Beasor debate, she just kissed her teeth and returned to watching a documentary on the royal wedding. Its not her disinterest in the issues I mind, I am the housing law geek in the relationship after all, but she made Coronation Chicken sandwiches for lunch………………………it’s getting to us all!!!!!!
[Cheers Ben, and Gawd Bless their Majesties. Feel free, gentle reader, to comment below on HB, BMEs, ARLA’s figures, the BRW or any of the topics raised above …. Ed]