[Ben Reeve Lewis has been reading …...]
I confess to being a compulsive reader.
Give me 5 minutes while the kettle boils and I’m reading the ‘5 a day’ blurb on a pack of frozen peas.
I used to read biographies, philosophy and religion but several years ago grew into well-written thrillers and crime fiction. Robert Harris, Phillip Kerr, James Lee Burke, George Pelecanos etc.
But the other day someone lent me Owen Jones’ “The Establishment and how they get away with”. I protested, saying I couldn’t be arsed getting angry anymore, so it sat in my bag unused.
The relutant revolutionary
Unfortunately travelling back on the train from last week’s Landlord Law conference in Cardiff my Adrian McKinty novel ran out around Swindon and with no packets of peas handy I was forced to start reading Owen Jones’ polemic.
By Twyford I was angry, by Slough I was fuming and by the time my feet hit the platform at Paddington I was ready to build a barricade at the end of my street and plan a suicide attack on parliament, News International and all the public schools of Britain.
Its not that I’m easily swayed, I just happen to completely agree with Jones, even consider him a bit too centre left to be honest but I don’t like to think about things like that any more. I just want a quiet life.
So I put it back in my bag, popped into WH Smith and bought a cooking magazine to tie me over for the remaining tube journey.
Stuff the revolution and instead stuff wine poached Apricots with clotted cream, topped with pistachios…….Your cholesterol will go up but your blood pressure will go down.
To boldly go
Deliberately avoiding anything that might upset me further I fell across this mad piece in the Telegraph with the fantastic headline “Sex offender’s Star trek home up for sale”.
Intrigued I read on. His estranged ex-wife has put his pet project up for sale after he was jailed for downloading sexually explicit photographs of Klingons.
“I do not want to be reminded about my past and I am looking forward to turning to the next page in my life.”.
She missed a joke there………….altogether now:
“I want to boldly go”
The photos do look impressive. It actually looks like a film set but to be honest, if it had been me I would have ‘boldly gone’ the minute he announced plans to ditch the Venetian blinds and cat flap.
I wonder what his jail cell looks like? Slightly less 24th century than he might have hoped I would think.
Make it so!
How not to take property photos
Still feeling the ghost of the conscience-tweeking Owen Jones peering disapprovingly over my shoulder I Googled ‘Funny housing news’ and came across this genuinely amusing collection of bizarre photos taken by estate agents with more ambition than artistic flair.
What were they thinking? being the operative phrase and, how come they are still in business? the rejoinder.
Have a look. It’s a head shaking website.
Helping tenants to check flats
This afternoon I attended a presentation by Paul and David Munday of the newly forged ‘Flatchecker’ service a fledgling company aimed at helping prospective tenants check out the veracity of prospective landlords to ensure that they aren’t renting from Sweeney Todd or a merciless Ian Duncan-Smith.
Both I and my local authority colleagues were genuinely impressed.
Paul introduced us to a certain scam running between what has to remain for now an unnamable property portal (Although you can probably guess) and the holiday home swap site Air-bnb.
I wrote about this a couple of weeks back, having never heard of them before until a poor unfortunate came in claiming that they had paid rent and deposit for a property that had been taken on for a short term holiday let by a fraudster posing as a landlord.
A growing menace
Doing a bit of back-checking I found this informative article in the Metro about the growing menace.
Journalist Jimmy Nsubuga, obviously mindful of injunctions carefully begins his article:
“Renting out your home through Airbnb can be a great way of making some extra cash, but be warned, it doesn’t always go to plan”.
Again cautiously adding:
“Most people who use the service have pleasant experiences.”
Clearly Airbnb are stamping down on bad practices and fraudulent activity whenever they find it. Why wouldn’t they? It damages their genuinely great business model but can you really stop people renting a holiday home and marketing it on certain unregulated websites (yes them again), posing as a landlord?
As an enforcement officer I see this day in day out.
The ‘posing as a landlord’ scam
Whether it is an exiting PRS or social housing tenant waiting for the bailiff’s warrant advertising a flat they no longer have possession of for 6 weeks deposit and a month’s rent in advance to 5 people at the same time or, as in one case I was involved with, a housing association staff member well aware of the whereabouts of their voids and in possession of the keys, who was nicely feathering his retirement nest.
Posing as a landlord is the easiest thing in the world to do and it goes on a lot. I know…..I’m the one who has to break the bad news to the person who has just lost £2,500 that they borrowed from a family member to get a roof over their heads.
Whinging aside I was interested in this floating house you can win as a prize again in the Metro.
It is sailing up the Thames for a week until it finally births in swanky-Hipster Putney and the lucky winners can stay for a night before it gets sold off to become a serious long-term home for 30 Romanian immigrants with no Gas Safe certificate, planning permission or legal utility supplies…….welcome to my world.
Oh there I go again. I blame Owen Jones for making me cynical.
What made me smile this week
Well certainly not Owen Jones, resurrecting my long dormant sense of social injustice that for some reason will just not lay down.
Okay…..how about this brilliant Bill Bailey joke.
“Three blokes go into a pub……….I say three, it could be five or ten………the number isn’t important. 100 if you like……….1,000, 10,000…….100,000 blokes go into a pub. Half a million…..a million blokes……alright. All the blokes in the world go into a pub. One of them says. “Alright lads, my round”……..what an idiot!
See ya next week