[Ben Reeve Lewis meets the Mayor and engages in cleaning related actions in the kitchen …]
I met the Mayoress of Manchester once, back in the 1980s I went there from Greenwich Uni to attend a 3 day conference on the Effects of the Vietnam war on American Popular Culture and all the delegates were invited to the town hall for champers and canapes.
I recall I fell in with an American lecturer who was obsessed with the sexual iconography on the covers of pulp fiction war novels of the 60s and 70s.
We got bladdered together and under his influence I started to see obscure and lurid details in the old paintings in the town hall. By the time we were on our 5th or 6th free glass of champagne the Mayoress came around to me I grabbed her gold chain and asked her how much it was worth.
I dimly remember through an alcoholic haze telling her I was from London and her dry reply “I’d never have guessed”.
I met our Mayor yesterday, the 2nd Mayor in a lifetime. I was a bit disappointed, he just had a suit on and no chain. Seemed like a nice fella but why no chain? Maybe he flogged it at Cash Converters, it is South East London after all.
To Business … Letting agents again
I wrote an article a few weeks back on Property 118 about the quiet revolution in the letting agency business prompted by the recent rash of online letting agent services springing up. Its one of those things that if you weren’t involved in housing you wouldn’t have noticed the significance of, but if you are in the world it is starting to stick out like a Mayor without a chain, or a naked woman on a burning helicopter.
As I reported in my Newsround recently Letting agents have been getting a kicking all round in the past few months. First Shelter Scotland started a campaign to claim back agent fees that are unlawful north of the border and then Shelter Wales leading a campaign against dodgy agents and the un-transparency of fees.
A few weeks back the Daily Mail even got in on the act with a rare bit of proper journalism that didn’t involve a world war 2 hero being evicted from their home by a Nigerian dole scrounger with 17 children and rang around several leading letting agents asking for their fees and found several who refused to reveal them.
Upad do a deal
The latest thing to crop up this week is the news that property agents Upad have done a deal with the London Evening Standard that allows landlords to advertise their properties directly in the ES for free.
For those non Londoners the Evening Standard used to be the main London Newspaper that everyone buys but it has in the past few years had to compete with Metro, a free newspaper that you often see on trains all over the UK.
The ES turned itself into a free newspaper too and millions get circulated right across the capital every day.
Quite a circulation huh? How will London’s agents respond to that? Is it another nail in the coffin or another wake-up call?
Hats off to Shelter
Now I know Shelter and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on issues but hats off to them this week for creating a new online tool for tenants to allow them to quickly check if their deposit has been protected and what to do about it if it hasn’t
This is also a great tool for housing advice workers too. It allows you to focus straight in on the relevant search bits of the 3 main sites, do your check and then you can see if the section 21 notice you are being presented with is valid or not.
It doesn’t have Deposit Guard on it though. Having said that, none of the landlords I deal with have even heard of the RLA, let alone be members of it, or any other accreditation body for that matter (it will probably show up on the TDS search as TDS actually protect deposits in the DepositGuard scheme – Ed).
An independent report. So we are told …
24 Dash this week reported on what I always find to be a very dubious statement “An independent study commissioned by the government”. I always think, can anything commissioned by government be truly independent?
Would the surveying organisation get the work if they were truly independent? What would the government do if the results raised some inconvenient truths? Would they just bury it and pretend it never happened?
This report followed a survey of nearly 2,000 benefit claimants . The survey’s respondents were asked what they would do to meet the shortfall n a cut in Local Housing Allowance payments.
- 45% would cut back on essential spending
- 37% would cut back on non-essential spending
When questioned further a quarter of the respondents said they would borrow money from friends or family and 1 in 10 thought they would take out a loan or credit card to get by.
Engaging in a bit of sub headline creation action … (Ed)
But by far and away my favourite quote is:-
“The research found that a future cut in their housing benefit might encourage some claimants to take employment-related actions to make up the (increased) shortfall”.
“Employment related action”????? Do they mean get a job?
This morning Frazzles nagged me about the state of the kitchen after making Gazpacho for dinner last night. Did I simply wash up or did I actually engage in a ‘Cleaning – related Action’? Who can tell.
Shapps Corner – sheds in beds
Finally housing and immigration adviser John Perry wrote an interesting piece in the Guardian about Shapps’s (Yes you knew he would creep in somewhere) beds in sheds task force. Even the casual reader couldn’t have failed to pick up that in actual fact this project is a 2 pronged affair that is as much about immigration as it is housing. John writes:-
“The experience of migrant communities with the police and immigration officials is often not a happy one, even for those with every right to live and work here. The new scheme should be directed at the accommodation issue alone”.
I do agree to an extent but the fact is a high proportion of the people living in sheds, as I understand it are illegal immigrants and usually being exploited by their own countrymen who are here legally. This is so often the case with illegal immigrants who are more at risk from their peers than anyone else in the UK.
So to my mind there is a legitimate element in there and John Perry is clearly a pragmatic man who goes on to say:-
“If Shapps’ scheme can bring housing and homelessness expertise together with migrant community groups and those skilled in advising migrants it has a much better chance of success”.
Yes. Joined up approaches better reflect a holistic view of housing which is also where the real solutions will lay.
At last week’s CIH Conference Robin Fowler suggested this in his opening speech. The solutions need to come from the people doing the jobs, not from Westminster.
Right. I’m off to participate in a cup of tea related action. See you next week.
Ben Reeve Lewis
Ben’s runs Home Saving Expert, where he shares his secrets on defending people’s homes from mortgage repossession Visit his blog and get some help and advice on mortgage difficulties, catch up with him on Twitter and check out his free report “An Encouraging note on Dealing with your Mortgage Lender” and have it sent right to your inbox.
Picture : Lord Mayor of London