[Ben Reeve Lewis has Egg on his Face ...]
On Tuesday I discovered the true meaning of the phrase “Egg on your face”.
For some time now I’ve been monitoring cannabis farms and brothels in an attempt to find any common intelligence that connects them. Perhaps the same letting agent or property owner involved at some point in the chain.
So Police obtain a magistrates warrant to enter a suspected cannabis farm. Good intel too. Even when we arrived there were black plastic bin liners on the windows and excess condensation. All classic signs.
I don’t know who invented the door but by God I want one! It took 8 of us half an hour to knock it in with a battering ram.
Even when it finally gave it didn’t part with the frame….the frame parted with the wall and the whole lot fell in.
By this time a sneering crowd had gathered, arms folded on the pavement to watch the show.
Once inside…..NADA! Not a single leaf or even a pack of discarded Rizla, just a normal family home.
Ever quick to save my standing in the community I asked the police if they needed me anymore and they said no.
Leaving the building someone in the crowd asked me if it was indeed a cannabis farm. I nodded and said in hushed tones “Oh yes!…..one of the biggest I’ve seen for some time”, leaving the poor police to deal with the inevitable mocking as I slid into the car and headed back to the office.
Well…….it was their warrant…..why should I care?
Returning to my desk I found a report from the Children’s Society on the problem of Vietnamese children often trafficked, being used as cannabis farmers. I wonder what the Vietnamese is for “Get Orf moy land”.
Not a phenomenon I’ve encountered yet but apparently it is worryingly common.
What is needed if we are to stop this problem, is for landlords to be made into immigration inspectors. Oh wait………………….its already happening, I forgot.
What exactly is going on with that West Midlands pilot, now a month into it’s run?
The West Midlands Right to Rent Pilot
Well according to a survey being carried out by a leading online letting agent, not very well.
“The study*, conducted by PropertyLetByUs –shows that nine out of ten landlords don’t fully understand the immigration checks they will have to carry out when the scheme is rolled out next year.”
“The research also reveals that 100% of landlords intend to rely on their letting agent or reference agency to conduct the checks and 93% of landlords don’t feel confident making the checks themselves.”
Great idea. Find someone else to blame when it goes wrong. It worked for me on Tuesday and it would seem I am not the only purveyor of doom making the same prediction the ultimate effects of this nonsense:-
“Over a quarter of landlords think that the legislation will lead to a rise in unscrupulous landlords renting ‘beds in sheds’; a fifth of landlords believe it will make it much harder for immigrants to find a property to rent; and 10% of landlords think the new legislation will cause homelessness for some immigrants
For once the landlord community and us frontline housing enforcement types are on the same page.
Still, we have another 5 months of this fiasco before the true results will be known and whoops…….that might just coincide with a new government and the whole sorry affair can be dismissed with the wave of an irritated hand.
If I was a West Midlands landlord I would be mightily annoyed, knowing that I was being used as a Guinea Pig for a load of pointless, unworkable old rubbish that will likely lead to nothing in the long term.
A blow to licensing
But poor, blighted, Brummie landlords can take heart in the news that across the board licensing has received a bit of a blow in the form of the ‘Enfield decisio’, reported on Nearly Legal.
In case you haven’t been following this, and obviously as an enforcement officer I have, Enfield council’s plans to extend licensing were squashed at Judicial Review for not having done enough borough consultation before ushering it in.
A point clearly not lost on the impending Croydon council plans and which explains the various emails and documents circulating in my office from said Croydon council asking us if we are alright with it.
I thought it was a bit strange. Now it makes sense.
Rent Control and Security Issues
Rent control and better security for tenants is climbing back up the agenda again, ably covered by Inside Housing.
According to a report by right of centre think-tank Civitas even Labours plans do not go far enough in terms of lengthening fixed terms and rent control.
‘Three years is not enough. The scale of the challenge in the housing market requires more ambitious solutions.”
Says the report, adding:-
“Dismissing concerns that rent regulation would deter investors from the sector, the report said rent should not be allowed to rise above inflation once freely set at the start of the tenancy.”
A survey carried out by Generation Rent revealed that 6 out of 10 renters now back rent control.
Admittedly I would imagine that the 60% involved probably rent in London where just being an average tenant requires an estimated (by me) annual income of around £375,000 per annum but it just isn’t going to go away is it?
Are you missing a trick?
Coming out of my house this morning I nearly went arse over tit with a dumped Xmas tree. The usual peril of all early January’s as people discard them around my way to be collected by the council trucks.
For a day or two the streets are transformed into a veritable Black Forest of depressing, bare looking conifers, with the odd sad, straggle of tinsel desperatelty hanging on in there, recalling happier times.
However, according to the Telegraph it would appear we are all missing a trick and wood burning stove owners should be gathering up the wooden bases to use as fuel.
I’m a second class citizen with only central heating. Wood burning stoves are the new flash, must have middle class London accessory. Harry Wallop comments with spot on accuracy:
“I went out hunting for these blocks of wood, only to discover I had a rival. Another man, in his green Barbour jacket, and using a trailer on his bicycle, had beaten me to the best. A huge stack of them were piled up and he flashed me a particularly satisfied smile. “You need to be quick,” he said, as he pointed to the far end of the road at another fellow, bent double and trying to yank a base off a tree. Oh, yes: it was rutting season for the quinoa-munchers of north London.”
What made me smile this week
Discovering a new Mexican food stall near my office that does the most sublime Quesadillas for £3.50 that he cooks in front of you so I was able to copy and repeat at home for Frazzy the same night.
Cook chicken strips, onion and peppers in a salsa until gloopy.
Stick a tortilla wrap in a dry pan over a medium heat, smearing with refried beans and Guacamole.
Top with grated cheese and the chicken stuff and warm through till it all melts, then add sour cream.
Warm a second wrap in a pan and stick on top of first one for a minute then cut into wedges.
Like a big sandwich really.
See you next week, with your chin covered in melted cheese.