[Ben Reeve Lewis needs a new printer …...]
I’m not naturally techie inclined. Although I love what technology can do I confess that unlike a lot of blokes I don’t get very enthused by gadgets or equipment.
However, finding myself in the need of a new printer this week I have been swamped with a bewildering array of reviews and personal opinions of the “Ooooh you don’t want to get one of those. My mate had one and it was forever jamming” kind.
The avalanche of pros and cons kind of made me give up until I sought professional help and left the decision up to them.
The only thing I was adamant on is it must not be set up to only run using Windows 8. I once tried to help my brother in law make sense of it and came to loathe it with a passion after 20 minutes.
When my nose wasn’t buried in printer reviews it was stuck in severely overcrowded properties with no fire precautions.
In my job some weeks have a theme, and I came across an interesting report from the London Fire Brigade which informs us that in the last few years there have been
- 432 fires in privately rented accommodation,
- 14 deaths in rented properties that should not have been let out,
- 83 serious injuries and
- 200 landlords prosecuted for running them.
The LFBs Dave Brown is quoted as saying:
“It’s a tragedy that in this day and age we’ve got people living in factories, sheds, and outbuildings in scenes reminiscent of a Charles Dickens novel.”
Reading this chimed with a few visits I did this week. One to a shop with 17 people living above it with no fire detection equipment, no fire escape and bars at all the windows.
A five roomed shed
Another visit took me to a house where a shed had been built in the back garden with five rooms in it.
When I stood on a brick and looked over the hoarding in the front garden I saw a conveyor belt dragging soil out to create an unauthorised basement. When I tackled the landlord about this he said he was actually firming up the foundations to cope with the huge (unauthorised) loft conversion that he pointed to.
I give up. That’s all for the planning team anyway.
But basements also hit the headlines this week with West London boroughs reporting that nearly half of all so called ‘Dig-downs’ failed health and safety checks when officers turned up unannounced.
Apparently they are very unpopular with neighbours too who complain of the noise and disruption as these modern day moles burrow their way to the earth’s core in search of a basement gym or swimming pool.
I can’t help wondering if London’s severe shortage of affordable housing will result in a tree like arrangement where what is underground actually dwarves what you can see above the surface.
Or if one day someone decides to add another lower level for a home cinema and ends up popping out in Brisbane, unwittingly creating a handy tunnel for Australian illegal immigrants to crawl through in a desperate attempt to leave what is clearly a miserable existence down under and live 17 to a room in Kilburn High St.
Double for London
Staying with housing demand in the capital, City AM told all London tenants what they already know, that London rents are running at more than double the rest of the UK.
Whilst supply of available rental properties has dropped 17%, there are on average 8.5 people chasing each one and rents rose by 8% in February alone.
A siren call to all London renters. Lets all get out. Relocate in Ottery St Mary or Newton Aycliffe, leaving London like a scene from ‘28 Days later’ whilst hordes of disenchanted Aussies flood through secret tunnels to take advantage of the lower prices caused by lack of demand.
Staying with supply and demand the ever excellent Mr Jules Birch looked at housing pledges for us this week, noting that
- the conservatives are promising 100,000 new homes,
- Labour promises 200,000 by 2020,
- the Lib Dems 300,000 and
- the Greens a massive 500,000.
It’s like some bizarre game of poker. “I’ll see your 300,000 starter homes and raise you 200,000…..by 2020”, while the Lib Dems throw in their hand and retire in a sulk to the bar.
A trick Mr Birch pulls off neatly by pulling a pair of queens out of his sleeve and asserting that in dealing with the housing crisis in a supply and demand way we would actually need 3 million homes to bring prices down enough to end the problem.
He points out:
“The Conservatives seem wedded instead to policies that benefit the shrinking number of existing home owners.
A party that really believed in a ‘property owning democracy’ policy would start by levelling the playing field between buy to let landlords and first-time buyers”
Adding a note of caution:
“However, buy to let could even gain fresh impetus next months as a result of new pension freedoms.”
I hadn’t thought of that. Will new pension rights create a nation of geriatric buy to let landlords?
Probably not as I read on BBC News that an army of scammers intent on separating people from their pensions is already waiting in the wings in advance of the feeding frenzy.
FCA Chief Martin Wheatley warned:
“Criminals have already started to bombard people aged 55 and over who are approaching retirement with phone calls and text messages ahead of the April changes.”
What made me smile this week
A blackboard outside of a pub I walked past which read:
“If nobody comes back from the future to stop you doing it, can it really have been such a bad decision?”
See ya next week.