[Ben Reeve Lewis meets his audience…)
I was up at the Landlord Law Conference last week at the Hilton Hotel Manchester.
Nice to see familiar faces and to hear from people who read my newsround. The most common reason given seeming to be it makes them laugh, which is fine by me, although I like to think its informative and thought provoking too……………occasionally…………. and when I’m not on a Socialist/Anarchist rant.
Last year I got several days training out of it when a council manager contacted me and asked me to train his teams. I asked him why he had chosen me as trainer and he said “Because I always read your newsround and it makes me laugh”.
People can laugh all they like, as long as I get paid.
Mind you the most difficult task I face each week is making the column funny in the face of some pretty depressing housing stories when often all I want to do is punch someone in the face.
Sometimes the comedy is of a kind where the laughter is a little more high pitched and slightly out of control, a type of straitjacket and padded cell laugh.
So lets see what we’ve got this week.
Animals at home
Well it starts promisingly with the news via Property Industry Eye that a Bristol zookeeper is looking to rent property for himself and several retired zoo animals, including a Walrus and a Flamingo.
Strangely this doesn’t surprise me one bit, having recently visited a South London tower block where we found a pig in residence, see photos at the side.
I remember once going to a property where a landlord was kicking off at an eccentric old lady who had several dogs, cats, rabbits and Guinea Pigs wandering around unfettered.
You can imagine the state of the carpet, in fact animal urine had seeped through to the flat underneath and was dripping down off the ceiling causing a hell of a mess.
Fortunately the tenant underneath had obsessive compulsive cleaning disorder so in a way was quite content to constantly have something to clean up. Landlords should take note and think outside of the box when it comes to placing tenants with happy neighbours.
Brexit again (sigh)
I don’t know about you but I’m already sick of all this Brexit nonsense. In the words of the Clash “Should I stay or should I go”?
The fact is whether we stay in or leave the effects, both positive and negative, are a guess on anyone’s part and yet everyone puts forward their theories as if they are informed fact.
The NAEA and ARLA have added their Mystic Megs to the arguments this week saying house prices and rents could fall if we leave
Good news for tenants and house buyers then and only bad news for vendors and landlords. Every cloud and all that.
Another reason for putting my cross in the leave box come the glorious 23rd, something I have this week come back around too, partly having watched this rather natty animated short film in support of the leave campaign which neatly deals with the daft arguments that if Britain leaves we will somehow disappear through a wormhole and exist only in some parallel universe where the world and his wife will refuse to even buy a Mars bar from us.
Complete tosh in my book. The world won’t end if we pull out, it will just change, which as any Buddhist will tell you is inevitable. The only people who like change being wet babies.
Hackney is now posh
Back in 2009 I spent a year living in Hackney. Back in my punk days Hackney was the last place on earth you would have wanted to fetch up, being comprised as it then was of boarded up shops, squats and councils estates that even the homeless refused to be allocated to
And yet when I lived there it had already transformed itself into the very epitome of “Achingly hip” and I do mean ‘Achingly’. The Telegraph posed the question this week “Is Hackney worth it?” as it has now been revealed to have the highest house price rises in the country.
In the past 20 years house prices in the area have seen a staggering increase of 939%, thanks in no small part to high earning Hipsters in media jobs snapping up ‘Viccy Village’ and pretty much everything backing onto London Fields and Broadway Market where a Cappuccino and a bottle of extra virgin olive oil will set you back £1,300.
Walking down Mare Street these days you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a district of British Columbia, every bar being rammed with surrogate Hipster Lumberjacks sporting huge beards and tartan shirts. My advice lads, if you cant chop down a tree or build a fire….shave it off!
The £1 per year rented house
As rents and house prices spiral out of control I was intrigued by this piece in Letting Agent Today of a highly desirable £1 million farmhouse with land up for rent at just £1 a year.
The property is a National Trust place which would require the tenant/farmer to regularly move 500 sheep across 900 acres of Great Orme head in order to preserve the grassland with a roving graze system.
As the article points out:
“It may not cost much but you pay at least the same as a market rent through hours and graft. If rent controls come in, perhaps this is the way forward?”
A new way of dealing with the homeless?
Maybe council homelessness units should look down this road instead of punting homelessness applicants out to Cardiff or Luton where those on benefits can afford the market rents under the benefit cap.
Turn the homeless into farmers to get the cheap rent. IDS will be ecstatic as his vicious attacks on the poor can be advanced with a bucolic, touchy-feely agenda.
The great unwashed having a reason for being unwashed as they are permanently covered in sheep shit and too tired from chasing woolly varmints up hill and dale from dawn to dusk.
It has a certain appeal I’m sure the bald devil worshipper will agree.
What made me smile this week.
Falling across the manifesto of the Levellers, no not the crusty 90s band banging out the hit “What a beautiful day” but a group of dissenters against Cromwell’s authoritarian grip on Parliament in 1649 and so modern it warmed the cockles of me heart.
- General election every 12 months and MPs not allowed to stand more than once without a two year gap in-between to prevent them becoming professional politicians.
- MPs not allowed to hold down jobs that can be advanced through their political office of portfolio.
- Total religious freedom.
- No tax…to be replaced by subsidies for specific public works.
- No conscription – people should be able to choose what they fight and die for.
- End to limited liability so people can’t run up company debts and simply fold when the going gets tough, stabbing creditors in the back..
- Troops out of Ireland.
- Laws created that recognise natural human rights, not laws imposed by the rich and powerful to benefit the rich and powerful.
- The law to be conducted in English so ordinary people can understand it………..ok we lost that fight.
See ya next week