[Ben Reeve Lewis has written 170 newsrounds …]
Cant believe I’ve got to #170
I was apprehensive about doing Newsround initially because of the demanding regularity of it.
But it has become part of my routine and keeps me on top of what’s going on out there beyond life sniffing around in the laundry basket of renting world.
Speaking of which I had a phone conversation with a mate about dealing with living conditions at the bottom of the heap.
Life at the bottom of the heap
Tenants at the mercies of people who think it is acceptable to let properties I wouldn’t let my dog sh*t in, let alone live and eat.
He asked me if I ever get fed up with the nastiness of it all.
My answer in truth is that I oscillate between the fire of righteous anger that makes me want to ruin these people’s days and often a feeling of depression and futility at constantly peering at life under the stone and the worms who live there, or more accurately, the worms who force other people to live there so they can drive around in a Porsche.
The sheer greed that drives them to disregard the life quality of others.
A house for thin people
Take Haringey’s thinnest house, reported in the Independent last week measuring just 7 feet wide and on sale for £239,000. It’s clearly been built on the alley between two previously un-terraced houses.
I doubt even a young couple desperate to get onto the property ladder will be tempted to buy it, leaving the opportunity for a landlord and eagerly snapped up by tenants within a week. Very thin tenants with very thin children and maybe a Greyhound, all squeezing past each other in the hall as they get ready for school in the morning.
Now, who woke up one day and decided it would be acceptable to build something like that? And perhaps even more mysteriously, how on earth did they get planning permission for it?
Estate agent tells truth about property shocker
The article also pointed me in the direction of a report on another property, a basement flat in Kensington described as ‘Uninhabitable’ even by the estate agent, which sold for £600,000.
When even an estate agent describes a property as uninhabitable you should surely take note.
Surprise laugh of the week came via news of another sign of the madness of London housing life where residents of the Brentford Dock estate had been selling external cupboard space at £7,000 a pop.
The laugh doesn’t come from the situation but the comment of the estate agent Julia Quilliam in justifying it:
“It’s a good sized cupboard. If you’ve got a flat, space is difficult. For people who have got a spare £7,000, they think “hey let’s get rid of all that junk. Put it in the cupboard!”
Vic Reeves couldn’t have said better.
It gave me an idea though, maybe I could sell the space under my bed. Mind you….then I would have to move all the junk out from under it first, but I could form a property quango with others and club together to buy a shed at Brentford Dock estate to chuck our junk in.
Whaddya think? Anyone want to join me? We could make a fortune. Think of all the un-utilised under-bed space there is in the capital.
Shrinking homes to avoid bedroom tax
Also a measure of how mad the housing crisis has become and the lengths some social landlords are having to go through to protect it’s tenants from bedroom tax Angus Council in Scotland is considering nailing up the doors to spare bedrooms so the properties can be reclassified as smaller.
Council leader Iain Gaul said:
“We don’t have the money to build one-bedroom houses and unfortunately we also have a shortage of these properties. We have plans in the background to seal off rooms to alleviate the problems that this so-called bedroom tax is causing.
“We would be sealing off the windows and doors to the spare room so there is no access. If people do not have enough money to live on – what are they going to do?”
So……to recap. People living in thin houses, people buying cupboards, people living in sheds and under roof spaces, massive overcrowding,, homelessness exploding, people being relocated from city to countryside and yet still the government fails to get it’s hands on the steering wheel.
Why aren’t we all throwing rocks at them?
Landlords as border control starts in the West Midlands
And while we’re on the subject of housing insanity, Nearly Legal provided the news this week that the lunacy of the proposed plan to make landlords responsible for vetting the immigration status of tenants is to start a pilot run in the Midlands on December the 1st .
I’m curious as to why the specific areas of Birmingham, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Walsall were chosen for the roll out – unless you make the connection between high profile news stories about Islamist teachings in ‘Trojan Horse schools’ in the area and the accents of the youngsters in the Jihadi recruiting videos.
But of course this daft plan isn’t an attack on immigration, its about fairness, isn’t that right Mr Cameron?
Blame the Baby Boomers
Finally I’m prompted this week by a comment on another article on Landlord Law Blog from Bee Bee blaming a large part of the housing crisis on Baby Boomers.
I am increasingly coming across a real anger at BBs from their children’s generation who feel stitched up by their parents perceived, ‘I’m alright Jack’, position and blamed for consciously creating Generation Rent.
Being at the slightly younger end of the Baby Boomer demographic this irks me somewhat.
In our defence I would like to say that it is entirely mistaken to presume that we in some way calculated or navigated a deliberate path to where we are now.
Like all young people we acted with little perspective on our times as 20 something’s, as do you.
Unless you are an exceptionally gifted and focussed individual you make your choices based on advice from parents, the behaviour of your contemporaries and the social mores of the time.
We bought houses because our parents (second world war generation) advised us it was the holy grail and all our mates were doing it. Nobody set out to mortgage their children’s futures. We just did what good, pliable consumers did in the belief that things would always be like they were.
Taking this whingeing logic further I should be blaming my parents for starting world war 2 and the inevitable fallout of endless cheap documentaries on Nazis that clog up satellite TV channels. Why didn’t they see this coming? Selfish bastards.
Ben looses out
Mind you we didn’t all benefit from it.
Unfortunately I am one of the tail end BBs who went through punk and didn’t have the good sense to stop the party there, moving further on into rave culture and mortgaged my future for some wonderful memories that I couldn’t share with vicars and numerous anecdotes that often cause open mouthed astonishment at the sheer, embarrassing seediness of them.
This makes me an entertaining dinner party guest but also means I have no mortgage or pension, but there you go, ya pays yer money and ya makes yer choice.
See ya next week
Note – If you want to help Ben avoid old age penury, help us build up our Easy Law Training Business and attend his entertaining yet exceptionally useful workshop on 9 October on Local Authorities and the Signs of Crime.