[Ben Reeve Lewis is cooking up a storm …]
Frazzles birthday in March 2013 was a wash out. We had a cottage booked in the Lake District but had to call it off when snow jammed the roads and cancelled trains.
Her birthday this year was similarly a non event when I realised a week before that I was at the Landlord Law Conference in Bury St Edmunds…………I was the most popular man in the dog-house.
So she was adamant that although it is late she wants to make up for losing two festivities and has a shindig coming up in a few weeks time which will require me to cook for around 50 – 60 people.
Her being from Barbados (by way of Brixton) she wants to replicate the Friday night Fish Fry at Oistins on her family’s home island.
This has involved us buying one of those big oil drum BBQs you see at West Indian events, destroying the ozone layer with charcoal smoke but is in fact the only way to really get that flavour.
So we had a trial run on Sunday. Jeez what a learning curve. Forget a few burgers on a small round pan. This was catering big style as I get used to heat spots and wot-not, plus marinating chicken for 24 hours.
Alf Garnet lives
I’ll jump straight into this week’s main news item, the enactment on May 14th of the ‘Alf Garnett Act 2014’……..er sorry, that should have read “The Immigration Act 2014”. That much anticipated piece of legislation that will turn private landlords into immigration inspectors.
The most able description of the pitfalls and perils of it came via an excellent piece on Nearly Legal
What a bizarre piece of legislation.
The implications are quite astounding. Go to the Nearly Legal article for the legal interpretations but let me tell you what I think of the operational problems I envisage this causing at the bottom of the pond where I ply my trade.
Problems with the Immigration Act
Put very basically, it appears that people from abroad who don’t have legal status will be excluded from occupying properties as a residence and landlords letting to these people will be subject to a £3,000 fine, even if the person originally had status but it was later withdrawn.
They won’t be covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, which means they wont be protected from harassment or illegal eviction, making them prey to the worst of the worst.
Secondly, what landlord will risk letting to anyone who appears vaguely ‘Foreign’ if they think they will get whacked £3,000 for misunderstanding complex legal principles that even specialists in councils get wrong with alarming frequency?
Of course this won’t prevent illegal immigration but it will mean that already marginalised people at greatest risk will be pushed even further underground where they will be vulnerable to exploitation by criminal landlords all too willing to take the risks of a fine that they wont pay anyway.
But then again they are foreigners aren’t they? And so according to UKIP they don’t count.
Talking of whom, that has also been a strange news development hasn’t it? UKIP making such headway? But I digress as I cant find a UKIP housing news angle unless you want to count my ponderings on what housing policies a UKIP government might unleash upon the country; probably a simple “No homes for foreigners” one.
Laugh of the week came from the lovely Serena Thompson over on Practical Guide to Running an HMO where she talked of getting strange flirting texts from people looking for a room and a date.
My favourite being this interchange;
Tenant: “Free for a drink soon?”
HMO Landlady: “Er, thanks but who are you?”
Tenant: “Just a 22 year old with a thing for older women”
I’ll bet Nigel Farrage doesn’t get texts like that. Frazzy says he looks like a frog but I suppose, out there will be someone who is attracted to froglike wannabees.
Hell you know the internet….there is probably a website just for them with pictures of Owen Jones and full frontals of the loathsome Dianne Abbot cavorting with the equally charmless George Galloway.
Buy to let landlords are bad for the economy – discuss
Top prize for the article that made me think this week goes to economics correspondent for the Guardian Phillip Inman who wrote quite an iconoclastic piece criticising buy to let landlords.
My view of them is that with the denuding of social housing we need them to fill the void but Phillip takes a different view that;
“They are a disaster for Britain and the economy”
Strong words Phillip, and he continues to set out his stall by talking in what, to be honest, I think are sweeping generalisations about painting over damp and encouraging creepy crawlies.
Remember I’m the guy who has to climb through windows of damp, infested properties and it is rarely small buy to let landlords who own them, but he does make a valid point about both the system which supports buy to let and broader effects of it;
“Not surprisingly tenants blame short-term contracts as a major cause of friction. What tenant can plan for the future when in six months they can be on the move? So the buy-to-let landlord plays a key role in undermining the private rental sector as a place for families to bring up children.”
I agree with that, although I would rather he referred to the buy to let system than the landlords, who are often perfectly decent people on a one to one basis.
Lenders, tax …
The 6 month AST isn’t so much of a problem when you have a solvent portfolio landlord looking at the long term but in my not inconsiderable experience helping buy to let landlords defeat possession proceedings brought by their lenders I have to say they do bring a lot of instability to…….well I wont call it ‘The housing market’, that is too dispassionate, but……….‘People’s homes’, because that is what it is at the end of the day.
Phillip points out that HMRC estimate that buy to let landlords are responsible for not paying £550million in tax on rental income or capital gains when selling up and conversely receive £7billion to upgrade properties with few checks on whether or not they have done the work.
Most of the problems a TRO deals with are concerned with complaints about buy to let amateurs breaking laws they don’t even know exist.
Emphasis on the word ‘Amateur’ there. They aren’t necessarily in it for the long run and their common lack of a financial safety net means they are often in a vulnerable position, ergo, their tenant’s homes are similarly vulnerable.
To Quote some Peter Gabriel song I have long forgotten “Hovering like a fly, waiting for the windshield on the freeway”.
And on that cheery note….See ya next week.