[Our intrepid reporter Ben Reeve Lewis tells it like it is … ]
Well I tried it……didn’t like it. Too much like hard work. I mean last week’s newsround……all that enforced optimism. Time for me to get back to my ‘What are they thinking?” mode. There is a housing crisis, why lie about it.
Mortgage repossessions again
A few weeks back The Council for Mortgage Lenders reports that there have been more mortgage repossessions in the past year than in the past 15 years. I hate that bumbling new age maxim ‘It isn’t a problem, it’s an opportunity’ Try telling that to the people plunging to earth on the Hindenburg!!!!!
But just because there is a problem, doesn’t mean to say there aren’t opportunities in there too, that’s how people cope with crisis. Such as the opportunity to make a joke about an 80 year old Zeppelin accident. Who says this column isn’t topical.
The Guardian reported rents reaching an all-time high. Renters in London paying 7.9% more than they were this time last year. The letting website Easy roommate reports an increase in couples looking to rent shared properties with others of 91% in the past year.
In the private rental sector the good news all seems to be for landlords though. Sorry any tenants reading this. Unless they own properties in the North East or the Midlands
Rents there dropped by 0.7% for the former and 0.1% in the latter. Outside of London the next highest level of rent increase on last year can be found in the South West, 1.7% rise, the East of England, 1.6%, Yorkshire and Humber, 1.4%.
And this is in the climate where the government is expecting/hoping that landlords will be lowering rents. [Ha! Fat chance …Ed]
The things we do for cheese
As a London tenant who is paying extra to live in East Dulwich, when the same property a few hundred yards away in dodgy Peckham would probably cost £150 a month less (the things you do to live near a cheese shop) I would dearly love to see rents coming down but I aint naïve.
On a purely practical level, if I was a landlord I would be more than miffed at government’s expectations…..many I meet are incredulous.
Are the government demanding that petrol stations drop the price of their fuel? No!. Are they bringing in legislation to encourage cinemas to bring down ticket prices so that people can actually afford to take the family out? No! The price of 400g of Brie De Meaux in my Cheese shop has rocketed. I can’t even afford to be pretend middle class these days.
Landlords coining it on HB …
Again the Guardian this week reported how £400 million of public money is being received by private landlords in the capital in the form of housing benefit. Quite an increase on previous years.
The reason apparently being the lack of social housing stock and the need of local authorities to rehouse their applicants in private rented accommodation, both permanently and as temporary accommodation whilst those same applicants wait for social housing to come up.
Poor conditions in the PRS
No bad thing if you are a landlord but this comes at a time when property conditions in the private rental sector of the capital are worse than in the public sector. Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee of the London assembly, Jenny Jones, said:
“The private rented sector has an increasingly important role to play in housing Londoners, but we are concerned that some of these properties are not up to standard.
“We intend to take a detailed look at the private rented sector with a view to identifying ways to ensure people get a decent home in return for the rent they – or the boroughs – are paying.
There will be 2 public meetings held in June and July and a report published, with an action plan, later this year. The question is, will the thrust of the report be towards penalising landlords with run-down and dangerous properties or will they be looking at grants to help raise standards?
Two blokes and a clipboard
In the current climate of cuts I very much doubt it will be the grants route. My bet will be on punitive action of some sort, but then, where are the local authority staff that will be expected to enforce this? HMO licencing is mandatory as you know, but my local authority has 13,400 HMOs and just 2 blokes trying to deal with them.
Arguments and discord continue to rumble on, like General Patton’s tanks through a post D-Day France (I’m loving the old reference points today and will try to work something in about the Punic Wars if I can) about those being disproportionately affected by housing benefit cuts.
Disabled tenants loosing their homes
The other week we had a report stating that Black and Ethnic Minority communities were suffering more, simply because a higher proportion were renting. Now it is the turn of the National Housing Federation, who this week claimed that 450,000 people with disabilities face losing their homes because they are under-occupying (more rooms than they actually need).
The NHF said “The cuts will force them to choose between going into debt or attempting to move away from their families and support networks, the NHF has warned.
Ministers say the reforms don’t necessarily mean people will be forced to move, but anyone that does will be able to apply for money from a discretionary payments scheme into which the government has put an extra £130m to help deal with Housing Benefit changes”.
Have you ever tried claiming Discretionary Housing Payments? I have, loads of times, for my clients in rent arrears for a variety of reasons. In 2 years I’ve managed it once, and I at least have the clout of being ‘in-House’ as it were..
HB Fraudsters – boo hiss!
Finally, I read on social housing website 24 Dash, of a couple claiming housing benefit on a 3 bedroomed house. Her as a sole tenant, him as her landlord when in fact they were partners with 3 children together. Suzy Dwyer and Peter Campbell of Knowsley were jailed for what is estimated to be fraud totalling £137,352.
What I love about the article is the line “She sobbed in the dock as Kevin Slack, for the prosecution, outlined the case against them. BMW driver Campbell, a member of his local golf club, followed proceedings with his hand placed on her knee”. What a touching scene, who said Charles Dickens is dead…..Woooah, got a Victorian gag in too!!!!