[Ben Reeve Lewis’ is fitting up the fish …]
Last week it was practising scales on my new guitar that occupied my non work time.
This week a different type of scales have been on my mind.
Frazzy’s new found obsession with aquariums has become my husband-ly duty as she cant be arsed to read about pumps and filters or whether fighting fish can be kept with Guppies without kicking off Old Kent Road style.
Of course she is happy to sit back with a cuppa and watch the carefully designed and lit pieces of interior design (she chooses the fish colours to match the buttons on the settee) while I swear, lose weird, unidentifiable but crucial pieces of plastic on the carpet and get my sleeves soaking wet.
As a consequence I’ve had little down-time to practice my music scales but plenty of time to catch up on housing news, of which there has been a fair bit this week.
There was a nice little argument going on between Shelter and the RLA reported in Inside Housing over Shelter’s new report on retaliatory eviction, claiming 213,000 people were affected by it each year
The RLA pointed out that this amounted to only 2% of all tenants and that the report only talks about people being faced with possible evictions, not actual evictions.
Tessa too mentioned it on Thursday’s blog so I wont labour the point, other than to say, shouldn’t we be concerned at the problems being faced by 213,000 people? Even if they are only 2% and 98% don’t have that problem?
A human rights issue?
Way back in 2012 noted QC Andrew Arden wrote a good piece for LAG on the legalities of the phenomenon suggesting that there may even be a human rights defence to it
Mr A suggests:
“If article 8 were held to apply to private sector possession claims, as it seems to us that it must be, then it provide the opportunity for a tenant to advance the defence of retaliatory eviction.
As the Supreme Court said in Pinnock, the question for the court is always whether the eviction is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (). There can be no legitimate aim in evicting someone for exercising their statutory rights; evicting someone so as to frustrate the exercise of that right is – in our view – always illegitimate.”
Where is the money?
Landlord Law Blog friend Giles Peaker of Nearly Legal fame could be seen strutting his funky stuff on Channel 4 news last Friday talking about the case of an alleged missing £400,000 and an internecine squabble between two letting agents. London Housing Solutions and Local Housing Solutions.
For once I have to remain tight-lipped on this one as I am actively involved in the case myself but will report in full when the matter is resolved and all in the public domain.
Laugh out loud moment of the week for me came via 24 Dash who ran the story headline “Illegal subletting amnesty yields results”.
For those who don’t know, sub-letting council and housing association property is a mega problem, an incredibly widespread kind of property fraud that government estimates costs the tax payer £8 billion, (I recall reading somewhere) which is why it was made a criminal offence last year.
Croydon council, the subject of the article are not the only ones to start with an amnesty but what made me laugh was the results……3 properties handed back and 4 “Reports of suspected housing fraud” ha-ha
What a triumph of council press office spin that is. That’s a pathetic result. Three in one road might be more reflective of the actual problem.
Mug shots for council tenants
For some time now many social landlords have begun photographing their tenants because the problem often goes undetected as housing officers tend not to visit a property unless called to do so.
An individual housing officer can often have anywhere between 200 and 600 properties on their patch, sometimes more and as staff come and go the person who signed the tenant up and knows what they look like may have long moved on, leaving the current post holder with no knowledge of the actual tenant other than a name.
We are the victims
Some people comment that there is nothing much wrong with sub-letting. It’s a victimless crime isn’t it?
Not really, dodgy sub-lets can lead to dodgy right to buy application. Fraudsters are determined and organised and do you really want your money being used to provide massive financial discounts and public services for people who don’t have any right to it?
I would rather see government’s and council knocking £8 billion off the national deficit by tracking down and prosecuting these people than taking it off of people who have done nothing more criminal than claim Housing Benefit.
Just a thought.
Rat & Mouse told us this week that Foxton’s shareholders are to pocket £15.4 million after record profits trading in their first year as a public company.
I’m not surprised, have you seen their tenant fees????? I don’t know what their landlord ones are, but bloody hell.
There is a branch down the road from Frazzy and I and everytime we drive past we look in and wonder. There never seems to be anyone in there apart from the very occasional well heeled young couple sitting on chairs that look like they have come from the Early Learning centre, reading brochures in the glow of the well lit fridge full of Perrier water.
In the background of the double fronted shop, under the many LED TV screens is a lone, bored looking agent in shirt and tie tapping aimlessly on the keyboard of a bank of unused computers.
This is only one of 14 agents in less than half a mile. They outnumber the kebab shops now, which in my book is a serious miscalculation.
Ken is back
The BBC reported that Ken Livingstone and a bunch of Green Party members have been criticising Boris’s wooing of foreign property investors for the capital
I’d forgotten all about Ken.
A demonstration was held titled “London not for sale” outside City Hall, a place I have been invited to twice, where the severe security measures at the entrance make removing your belt and shoes at Heathrow seem a tad slack.
Ghost mansions – the new buzz phrase
The article points out a new phenomenon “Ghost mansions”. We haven’t had a new housing buzz phrase since “Generation rent”, if you don’t count “Rent to Rent”, a minor addition to the canon. I have to say I like it.
Ghost mansions are those huge piles bought as investments by seriously minted foreigners who never even visit them. A national scandal given the housing shortage.
Reported in the article is the London Evening Standard which voiced:
“Critics say ordinary Londoners will not be able to afford most of the new homes that are being built. At the top end of the market, the global super rich are building up London property portfolios as a “reserve currency,” with more than 700 “ghost mansions” – worth a total of £3bn – standing empty”.
Whilst Jennet Siebrits of CBRE said:
“But there is also a booming market in more modest “luxury flats” on big new developments, funded by foreign investors.”
A curious counter-view until you read who Jennet works for CB Richard Ellis who run a neat website for property investment and real estate awards
Never bite the hand that feeds you.
See ya next week.