[Ben Reeve Lewis is angry …]
If you are a letting agent and of nervous disposition look away for the next 15 paragraphs, because I’m in no mood for pleasantries.
Regular readers will know that Frazzy and I are tenants….very, very, very reluctant tenants – simply through temporary expedient, which I will explain later.
We live in a 1 bed flat in South East London paying £1,220 per month rent……..and no you didn’t misread that.
We received a letter today from our letting agent advising that the rent was to be raised by £80 per month to £1,300. Ok…its all up for negotiation, I can live with that ( I got them down to £1,250 anyway).
But what irked me the most was the paragraph that said if we didn’t want to pay the £84 re-sign fee for a further fixed term on the proposed conditions they would instigate possession proceedings.
Er, what happened to tenant choice? The supposed bastion of Assured Shorthold Tenancies? The flexibility that government and landlord rights groups idiotically tell us all tenants crave?
We have lived here for three years, never been in even 1p arrears, treat the property as if it were our own, swelled our landlord’s coffers to the tune of over £43,000 during that time and this is how we are treated?
The agents want £84 to re-sign and then what? 10% of £1,300 for the next 12 months, totalling £1,644. For which, if we don’t agree to their terms we will be made homeless?
What other industry would disrespect it’s customers in this way?
And you wonder why letting agents aren’t regarded with any warmth or trust. It is sheer profiteering.
I have a descriptive word for the jumped up little twonk who wrote that letter……it begins with an ‘A’ and ends in ‘Hole’, and if I was being really honest there would be an ‘F’ before the ‘A’ and the ‘Hole’.
Its alright agents. It’s safe to look again now.
In news terms there has really only been one bit of news this week. The announcement by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney that unless Britain gets building again the housing bubble being created by Help to Buy will plunge us back into recession.
Carney announced everywhere that:
“The (housing) market represented the “biggest risk” to financial stability and the long-term recovery.”
He went on to point out on the ‘Murnaghan show on Sky News:
“When we look at domestic risk, the biggest risk to financial stability and therefore to the durability of the expansion [of the economy; those risks centre in the housing market.”
Even Cameron didn’t disagree that we need to build our way out of a crisis if people are going to have safe and secure homes, but as usual he countered with the argument that we are already building, so it is all taken care of. Well ‘Lah-de Dah’, the Lib Dems have their finger on the pulse at all times.
The ‘F’….the ‘A’….the ‘Hole’…..
Government and housing
If Camo recognises the key role of housing in economic recovery why did he downgrade Kris Hopkins’ housing minister post? and why hasn’t he created a cabinet position for housing?
He seems more concerned with micro-managing the Astro Zeneker/Pfizer take-over than ensuring the people he is elected to govern have affordable homes to live in.
If stern austerity measures are finally paying off why are there still 10 people in the queue with their suitcases outside my homelessness office every morning at 8am when Frazzy drops me off for a merry day harassing landlords?
Watching breakfast TV this morning to ascertain from the weather if it is to be me hoodie or me Hawaiian shirt, I watched with interest reports of house price rises as the bubble Mark Carney warns of swells with even more helium – 4.7% for most but a jaw dropping 17% in London.
The real reason
This is where my inner mercenary is revealed, because Frazzy owns a house with her mum (this is the reason we rent) and there is only a year left on the mortgage and she is looking to sell to buy her mum a granny flat, which will hopefully leave us with enough money for a deposit on a house in Barbados [but there’s no snow in Barbados Ben … Ed].
So for once it’s me that is talking about the ‘Bouyant housing market’…….bring it on. I feel sorry for people priced out of the market…………………..but I can live with it!
Back to letting agents…….in a nice way.
Honest agents – yes really
In the interests of balance I was intrigued to read of a letting agent being recognised for it’s honesty.
The write up of a £1,300 flat (Where have I heard that before????) runs:
“Not a very nice one bedroom flat [sic] but like the budgie it’s cheap, open plan, well used kitchen, and if you can call it this – a small lounge. Large double bedroom (can’t say more than that), bathroom with a toilet and a bath.”
My favourite comment being this:
“There is an apparently jokey reference to the fact there are “unfortunately no rafters or natural beams to hang from. Harvey Residential insisted this flippant comment referred to hanging clothes and hammocks rather than suicide.”
This is all in the style of the legendary Roy Brooks agency, which started up in the 1930s, a branch of which sits at the bottom of my road.
Roy famously wrote of a property in the 1960s:
“Wanted: Someone with taste, means and a stomach strong enough to buy this erstwhile house of ill-repute in Pimlico.
It is untouched by the 20th century as far as conveniences for even the basic human decencies are concerned. Although it reeks of damp or worse, the plaster is coming off the walls and daylight peeps through a hole in the roof, it is still habitable judging by the bed of rags, fag ends and empty bottles in one corner.
Plenty of scope for the socially aspiring to express their decorative taste and get their abode in The Glossy, and nothing to stop them putting Westminster on their notepaper.
Comprises 10 rather unpleasant rooms with slimy back yard, 4,650 Freehold. Tarted up, these houses make 15,000.”
And my favourite ‘Roy-ism’:
“Rain sadly drips through the ceiling on to the oilcloth. The pock-marked basement floor indicates a thriving community of woodworm, otherwise there is not much wrong with the property”.
God bless him….the Tony Benn of letting agents.
Finally my eye alighted on an article on the CNN website about how Londoners and even Parisians, forced into renting by high house prices are taking to the waterways in narrow-boats
This was something I was considering myself around 15 years ago before deciding to relocate to Somerset instead after a friend who had lived on one for a year advised me that he had never been so cold in his life.
It still holds an allure for me that cant be wiped out even by the comments of 64 year old head of the Residential Boat Owners Association Alan Wildman who assures us that it isn’t a practical alternative to homeownership.
Buying a boat can be a lot cheaper but unlike bricks and mortar boats decrease in value with age. Mooring fees can run to £30,000 and I recall when I was looking seriously into it that every 7 years you have to have your bottom scraped.(Waits for giggles to die down before explaining “The bottom of your boat”).
I confess I still quite fancy it though, but Frazzy gets sea sick in the bath so I doubt it will ever happen.
See ya next week