[Ben Reeve Lewis reflects on being a tenant.)
Frazzy and I are coming up to the end of our fourth year as tenants. Renting a 1 bed flat in London.
We are getting the usual threatening letters from our high street letting agents informing us of an astronomical proposed rent increase and the obligatory paragraph stating “Please let us know if you don’t wish to renew your tenancy and if not we will issue you with two months notice to leave”.
In response to which we make our bid for the “National Wooden Spoon Award” by once again playing the annual game of emailing our landlord asking him why he wants us to leave, to which he responds “I don’t” and which we counter with “But your letting agents say they will serve us with notice if we don’t pay them the £120 renewal fee”.
Phone calls are made and the matter is dropped, as is the proposed rent increase which is usually about £80 more than the landlord actually wants.
All driven by the letting agent’s desire to either charge a renewal fee or get paid for finding a new tenant.
What would YOU do with it?
But I just did a rough calculation and in the time we have been in there we have paid £60,000 in rent. How could I have better used that money in supporting myself instead of someone else’s pension fund?
As Viv Stanshall says in Sir Henry at Rawlinson End “If I could have back all the money I’ve spent on drink, I’d spend it all on drink”.
Now I know you have to pay to live somewhere but this is the most profoundly depressing figure I can remember seeing and I’m not alone. Reading in the Guardian this week a review of 20 years of housing I read of Dagmar Noble, a former home-owner trapped by negative equity and repossessed who says that although she is happy renting says:
“I don’t like paying someone else’s mortgage – I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. I’d rather rent a council or housing association property”.
Got it in one Dagmar, that’s how I feel and probably most private tenants.
Difference is I do have a way out, even though it will involve moving 180 miles from home to do it. Watch out Midlands, here we come.
Property winners and losers
The Guardian’s article is worth a read. I don’t think anyone has looked at the winners and losers of the property boom which started around 20 years ago.
“It is a tale of two Britains, where buyers have made millions and renters have shelled out tens of thousands of pounds and live a fragile existence”
Says the piece and it has indeed been a strange time. Working at the coalface of housing problems in this period I’ve seen a massive increase in allegations of harassment and illegal eviction and a concomitant increase in homelessness applications.
I haven’t seen the other end of it, the people who did well by making the right choices or having favourable life circumstances. Same as under Thatcher, I never personally knew anybody who got rich, just the people who got trodden under foot by her dictatorship.
Maybe I need to get out more.
Renting in Delhi
But at least I don’t rent in Delhi . Most are familiar with the old epithet from Peter Rachman’s days “No blacks, no dogs, no Irish” but in Delhi the signs read “No alcohol, no meat eaters, no bachelors”.
I like Indian signage. I remember backpacking around Kerala and Tamil Nadu some years back and seeing a fantastic sign at a viewing point in the hill station Kodaikanal which read “The mocking of ladies is punishable”
My favourite Delhi landlord sign is “Government officials only”, which frankly beggars belief in my world. I’d rather have a drunken idiot smashing up me furniture than George Osborne and his mates carousing over a bottle of 30 year old malt but there ya go.
The combined prejudice among Delhi landlords about bachelors as tenants seems to be:
- Theyre drunk
- They don’t pay their rent
- They sleep with women.
- They have bad hygiene.
- Theyre a bad influence on children.
So, back to George Osborne then.
Lime Legal for housing lawyers
After the best part of 6 weeks off air the good folk at Lime Legal have produced their first reports of 2016 about issues crucial to housing law practitioners.
All housing law-heads who haven’t fallen over this amazing resource need a kick up the arse. It’s the ‘One Show’ for housing law (I can feel Jan Luba cringing at the analogy)
The Lime posse pointed us at the strange case of the tenant under an injunction for keeping an Alsatian where attempts to commit him to prison for contempt of court on ignoring the injunction and failing to re-home the dog.
As a newly reconstructed dog lover I have to say I would rather live in a caravan than get rid of my little fella. Some things are more important than a roof.
Speaking for the landlords Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, the housing officer Amy Caroll said:
“She heard it barking as recently as this morning and last night inside the property and also being let out into the back garden of the defendant’s property; the defendant repeatedly referred to the dog as “Midas”. She further confirmed that she has also seen the dog on a number of occasions and therefore knows that it is the same dog that is the subject of the injunction.”
Reading through the report I can’t see any allegations that the dog attacked people. The basis of the legal action seems based on the sole fact that he had a dog in breach of his tenancy agreement. A prison able offence?????????????????? Perleaze!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Call me old fashioned but I would quite like to get an injunction against Donald Trump, just for being Donald Trump. It’s the same logic. Guilty of being in possession of offensive hair and racist views.
You could also have Man United’s Van Gall up on the offensive hair charge. For god’s sake man what are you thinking?
What made me smile this week
Last Saturday night Frazzy and a bunch of waifs and strays, loosely called our friends, dusted off the white gloves and glow sticks and danced ourselves to death at the excellent party night ‘Havent stopped dancing yet’
In the post apocalypse years since the 1990s I’ve got used to stop-start dancing at DJ events run by idiots who think their DJ set is for their own private amusement, completely ignoring the fact that nobody is on the dance floor while they play some obscure roots revival tune to people who long ago gave up Sensii to protect their sanity.
HSDY is the ultimate party night for the over 40s whose knees are still relatively in tact.
Be there or be square.
See ya next week.