[Ben Reeve Lewis regular Friday feature is back to normal again this week, well as normal as it ever gets …]
Back to the news
I took a break from new reporting last week to air my own personal philosophy of how I think the rental business should run. I got some great views and thanks for those of you who didn’t beat me up.
Back to news this week but still with that theme on my mind.
In order to write this column every week I have a load of websites and blogs collected together in Google reader so I have everything in one place with minute by minute updates. It is similar to having all the daily papers piled around you and with that kind of perspective you can’t help but get a holistic view of what is going on.
You get contradictory news reports with some claiming things are going great, next to an article saying the opposite.
I have also got into some discussions on Tessa’s excellent site, still the best around for my money (and no she doesn’t pay me) with some landlords and tenants and also exchanged a few views with twitter people.
Hating the hand that feeds
What is becoming glaring obvious to me is that landlords and tenants seem for the most part to hate each other. And this perplexes me.
Many years ago I went out with a girl who grew up on a chicken farm in the North West. The family were made financially safe for the rest of their lives through the enterprise and yet she always said she hated chickens. “They’re stupid f*****g animals” she used to say. Why would you hate the thing that set you up for life?
Up and down
I have the image of a see saw in my mind that comes from reading different news stories from different perspectives.
The stories that trumpet a great time to be a landlord, i.e. huge and escalating rents, means a terrible time to be a tenant. Any proclamation about an increase in tenant’s rights topples the see saw and the landlords then claim to be disadvantaged.
I hate to sound naïve or politically innocent but I don’t understand why it has to be either or. Where are the headlines saying “A great time to be a landlord and a tenant?” Why can one party only feel their needs are being met when the other party feel theirs are being eroded?
I don’t pretend to have an answer to this at the moment but I am working on it with my mate Sarah Smith.
I was driving home from work today, having spent 4 hours in court getting an injunction against a landlord who had seized his ex-tenant’s goods and was refusing to return them on the basis that in decorating his room white he had damaged the property and he was entitled to compensation, by refusing to let him have his clothes, passport and driving licence back and I was listening to Radio 4 talk about the whole Greek debacle and how although it is galling (not in a French way…..boom…tish!!!!) to have to bail them out financially in fact if they go down, we go down, so we have to, because ultimately, their interests are our interests.
And I thought that surely landlord’s interests and tenants interests are fully mutual? So why should each side have so little regard for each other? Tenants see landlords as uncaring, money grabbing bastards and landlords, for their part seem to view tenants as an unpleasant necessity/barrier between their income and a quiet life.
The current scramble for higher and higher rents leads to a gold rush mentality and when has that ever proven supportable in the long term for anyone involved? It always ends in tears.
Quote for the day
Regular readers will also know I am a trainer as well as a TRO, but not of just housing law, I am also a qualified NLP trainer and do a variety of communication skills courses, including managing people skills. In my research for that particular course I came across a great quote that I use on the course itself. “If we know that people work more efficiently when they are happy and motivated, surely the job of a manager is simply to make their team feel happy and motivated”
I think that transfers over to the landlord and tenant world. If the definition of a successful letting is based on the give and take relationship between landlord and tenant, then surely the best way to ensure that is to work on the relationship between the two parties?
Just a thought.
All tenants are miserable?
On a different tip, last week Shelter announced the results of a survey where they said a huge proportion of tenants were unhappy with their landlords
The trouble is that the figure they quoted, 7 odd million actually exceeded the amount of people renting oooppss!!!! Haha
New problems for the middle classes
I was overjoyed to read in The Independent that Britain’s middle classes were set to be the new homeless. Great news for us lot who get spat at, sworn at, threatened and abused on a daily basis and also great news for our body armoured security guard Sefton who has to physically intervene several times a day
Imagine the well-mannered ructions we would have to deal with in the future?
“I’m terribly sorry to be a nuisance but I simply can’t agree with your view that I am intentionally homeless. I’m very embarrassed to have to adopt this stance but I am simply going to have to sit in. You can call the police if you feel you have to but, I’m sorry…..this is an outrage. What am I going to tell Oliver and Hermione? It will be all around the school by the end of the week and my reading club will be furious”.
It makes a change from the poor guy this week in our reception area who got into a disagreement with another homeless applicant and got hit in the face 5 or 6 times with the guy’s belt buckle. Sefton’s infamous headlock sorted the day.
Sometimes I feel as if I am living in a Hogarth print………..and how’s that for an arty middle class metaphor?????????
Ben Reeve Lewis
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