[Ben Reeve Lewis is confused…)
I’ve been thrown by Tessa’s early publication of last week’s Newsround on Thursday and am convinced writing this today (Thursday) that it is actually Friday [sorry! Ed].
A hideous day long process of unconsciously winding down and then suddenly realising every 10 minutes or so that there is still another day of the madness to go as I tread the sorry boards of the housing crisis.
Homelessness Unit report more Homeless
I attended a meeting on Wednesday at a North London council homelessness unit who have just finished compiling their statistics for the year and found that approaches to them by homeless applicants have increased 52% in the past year from those made homeless following eviction under section 21 because the landlord wanted to raise the rent beyond what their tenants could afford to pay.
Of course, the general landlord press continues to trumpet that the rental market has never been more buoyant.
I often wonder who has their pulse on the reality of the housing situation.
NALS, the RLA, NLA etc put a good case for the landlord side of things and Shelter, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation etc put the tenants side but who has the best overview?
Follow the money
Even dyed in the wool Socialists tell me they read the FT to understand where things are going. Follow the money, as Lester Freemon says in ‘The Wire’.
So I was interested to see this piece in ‘Money Week’ where mine jaded eye alighted on the following view from the dedicated money people:
“The UK housing market is hideously dysfunctional, and the EU vote isn’t going to change that one way or the other”.
Sop of a sort to wavering fence-sitters like me. Determined one week to vote out on a wave of moral certitude and the next to stay in, lest it affect my soon to be house relocation.
The article cites hardcore housing money men Fathom Consulting who said:
“House prices are too damn high compared to wages. Property prices would need to fall by up to 40%, or household income grow at ten times its current pace for the next five years, in order to bring the ratio back to balance.”
Going on to point out:
“we’ve pushed a load of other people on to the market, most of whom are only there with massive support from either the state or relatives. – I’m sure that many people have felt like mortgage zombies on occasion, as they trog off to work in the morning with only the prospect of having to make that monthly millstone payment keeping them in harness – the housing market is dependent purely on artificial life support.” .
Blimey…..housing money investors talking like Jeremy Corbyn. You know we’ve seriously lost the plot when that happens.
A sea change from enforcers …
With my ear to the ground on councils and their response to rogue landlord enforcement I sense a sea change as even the most slothful of red-tapers are starting to get their Farah’d arses in gear with the news that Barnet Council in North London whose enforcement teams have been whacking out fines totalling £200,000 on their local N’er do wells have recently trapped cuddly Yossi Meshulam for failing to licence an HMO where 12 tenants and a 2 year old kid were occupying 7 rooms with no fire escape
Having dealt with numerous greedy idiots like Meshulam, Barnet have decided to introduce additional licensing. A plan I have no doubt will be vigorously defended by local landlord groups claiming that it will:
- Affect their business.
- Present a restraint on trade.
- Punish the good guys.
- Not deal with the problem.
- Pass extra costs on to the tenants.
Tick most attractive option as applicable, as everyone, including journalists have been doing for a number of years now.
Are Meshulam and his properties really as ‘Relatively low in number’ as the press would always suggest?
As someone at the front end I have to say a loud and resounding “NO”! and the House of Commons seems to be cottoning on with their published report this week into the private rented sector admitting:
“29% of private rented properties would fail the Government’s decent homes standard for social housing, compared to 14% of social housing.”
This is the House of Commons saying this, not Shelter.
Unfit for human habitation not an offence
The report mentions the Karen Buck Bill which unsuccessfully tried to introduce a rule making an offence for a landlord to let out a property that wasn’t fit for human habitation.
Read that again….she was unsuccessful in getting a law passed through parliament that would force landlords to rent out properties FIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION.
The obvious corollary being that those speaking out, filibustering and voting against this proposal were actually in favour of landlords being allowed to rent out properties that aren’t fit for human habitation against a background where even the government admits that 29% of PRS stock would fail decent homes standards.
What would Charles Dickens have said?
During my 5 months filming last year for Channel 5s Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords I repeatedly tried to get on film a personal Alan Partridge-ism that always made me and the shooting Director Lucy Fyson laugh “If Charles Dickens were alive today he’d be turning in his grave”.
The edit team sadly never picked up on the joke even once but it is true.
Charles Dickens would be incredulous that Parliament would actually be against a rule prohibiting landlords from letting out homes that aren’t fit for human habitation but here we are in the 21st century still having to argue the point.
Its as daft as arguing the case for the social value of the ducking stool or the preservation of Gladiatorial combat, or being crammed 4 to a room with no functioning toilet or fire precautions is character building.
I read last year that a record number of MPs are now landlords. In a climate where MPs are renowned for feathering their own nests before taking stock of the day to day issues of their electorate the inconvenient logic of the Karen Buck Bill makes sense.
What made me smile this
I don’t normally give money to beggars but on Wednesday I was totally inspired by the homeless guy sitting cross-legged on a traffic island outside of Victoria station with a sleeping bag draped over his shoulders, singing the theme tune to the Flintstones through a traffic cone.
That kind of eccentricity needs rewarding sometimes. Genius!
See ya next week.