[Ben Reeve Lewis looks at strange properties on offer …]
Well Frazzy and I had a marvellous break at Hythe and Dymchurch way for our 5th Anniversary last weekend.
Marred only by the fact that as we were winging home on the A20, just coming into London the car blew up.
The RAC man couldn’t fix it on the road so towed us home. A fine end to festivities.
Back to work on Tuesday presented me with a charming 3 bedroom house where the living room had been divided into two with stud walling to maximise the landlord’s ‘Rental Yield’ I believe it’s called.
Nothing unusual with that these days except that the dividing ran the length of the living room, so each tenant had half the bay window, you could see the wall line from outside, right down the middle of the bay.
Steptoe & son
It put me in mind of that old episode of Steptoe and Son where they divided the house to create their own space, using a football entrance turnstile for the shared kitchen, forcing each of them to put a penny in every time they want to make a cup of tea.
An arrangement I have yet to see but wont be surprised when I do.
A pathetic fine
The Guardian this week ran an interesting story about Barnet Landlord Yaakov Marom renting out a property where in order to get into the room itself you had to crawl through an entrance with a height of 2’ 3”.
As is usual with these cases the landlord failed to comply with prohibition notices and continued to rent it out @ £420 per month.
My opposite numbers in Barnet council quite rightly threw the book at him, trouble is the book in this case was more of a pamphlet, as the courts saw fit to impose a £1,500 fine, £1,420 in costs and a victim surcharge (whatever the hell that is) of a whacking £120.
Once again the only word I can find that suits is ‘Pathetic’. I’m not blaming the council bods but the courts. Where is the deterrent in that?
The fine is around 13 weeks rent. It is highly unlikely that Marom is a landlord with a single property, so the fine would be no more irritating than a wasp on his pint, probably less than that.
Not only is it no deterrent to Marom I’m sure the story, which is reported in the Mail, the Mirror, the BBC, the Sun etc gives heart to dodgy landlords everywhere that they can let out properties like this with impunity, because even if they get caught, what the hell?
And this wasn’t the only property of this type in the news.
Only for the thin
Many of the same organs picked up on this property advertised on Right Move, where the gap between the bed and the kitchen appliances would cause Gizelle Bundchen to suck her stomach in to squeeze past.
I would be kind if I referred to it as a hovel. This place aspires to hovel status and was advertised by the letting agents with, I’m sure the unintentionally funny name of “Relocate me”. I would suggest amending the company name to something more appropriate “Please………..Relocate Me”.
What is even more astonishing is that the property was snapped up within 16 hours by a new, presumably extremely thin, tenant. Such is demand for affordable housing in London.
Some readers may argue for this being simply a case of supply and demand but I would counter that there needs to be some standards. Even germs have standards and trying to rent out properties like this should be a criminal offence.
Works in Default in action
The Evening Standard flagged up another offender who had been renting out a shed to a couple for £750 a month.
He ignored notices served by Hillingdon council to knock it down so they went in and did it for him. Presenting him with a bill for £10,000.
This is a case of ‘Works in Default’, that I wrote an article on just a couple of weeks back.
That’s my kind of result, not a £1,500 fine.
Time for a tablet
Mind you it isn’t just private landlords trying to dodge responsibilities. I read with interest this week of Halton Housing Trust who have decided to reinforce cuts to staff by purchasing tablet computers for all their tenants and training them how to use them.
Working in this way they can close off phone access across the board.
The article points out that the logic behind it isn’t cuts but that the tablets will enable the Trust to reel in £20m in rent once Universal Credit comes in.
Chief Exec Nick Atkin commented:
“If somebody is just saying they can’t be bothered to go online, we won’t take their enquiry, because it means to do so would take resources from somebody else who is vulnerable and needs support.”
I remain unconvinced.
But if you need any further convincing that renting land can be a funny old business, Giles Peaker over at nearly legal gave us the strange case of the ‘Sex swing’, the use of which got a tenant evicted for “Sexual and athletic squeaking noises”.
The courts arguing that:
“late night squeaky sex swinging “would no longer correspond to normal rental use, and must therefore not be tolerated as socially acceptable”.
Well it beats leaving blue-tac marks on the walls.
Finally Inside Housing flagged up news of a French housing crisis where new build starts have fallen to emergency levels but get this, the current level is still double what we are managing in the UK.
Jules Birch points out that although Britain has roughly the same size population French new builds ran at 400,000, their lowest for 16 years while in the same period the UK managed only 125,460.
The inestimable Mr B raises that old ghost that wont lie down:
“If supply alone is a panacea, as is widely believed in the UK, then why have housing costs in France escalated to the point where the government is imposing rent caps?”
Merde!………….Those crazy French.
See ya next week