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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #278

Ben on a chair[Ben Reeve Lewis is glad 2016 is gone…)

Well I can honestly say I’m glad to see the back of 2016, which has been an awful year for me and most people I know, involving death and illness in the family and a workload that saw me have only 4 days off in the entire year.

But just as the curse of 2016 continued to make my life a misery whilst denuding the show biz world of stars right up to the last knockings, so did the rogue landlord world.

Happy New Year to you too

I was preparing tea late in the afternoon of New Year’s eve and got a call from the out of hours team of a London council my crew are working with, that a woman and two kids had just been illegally evicted. New Years Eve if you please!?!?!

On the plus side they didn’t have contact details for the landlord, who is on the run from police and understandably reluctant to answer a phone number he doesn’t recognise and the courts were all closed, so an injunction impossible. Meaning I was spared the pleasure of rowing with the landlord on the phone or having to don a tie and sit for hours in the county court waiting room.

The family spent the night in B&B but at least I was allowed to snore along to Jools Holland in peace.

Housing Blogs

I wonder if the curse of 2016 hasn’t also hit a couple of my favourite housing blogs.  In trawling around for news this week I notice that Ben Brandt’s excellent and amusing Rat & Mouse, last published an article early in November before going silent and Painsmith, home to very reliable housing law issues last published in September [they have done a ‘happy new year’ post recently though – Ed].

Hope you’re still out there people.

I’m glad to see HMO landlady back at her keyboard though comments this time regaling us all with some hilarious stories of daft conversations she has had with her tenants from time to time, for example “There’s been a power cut, you’d better come over”…….”is it just the bulb that’s gone?”…..”oh yeah”.

Reminded me of some of the dafter ones I’ve had, like the woman back when I was a homelessness officer who said she was happy to be rehoused in the top floor of a tower block, just as long as she had a garden.

Or the tenant who reported that his landlady downstairs had been harassing him by ripping up the carpet outside of his room who advised me that he had gotten it sorted. When I asked him how, he replied “I went downstairs and ripped her carpet up as well”.

HI Caramba…

Garden Villages on the cards

There was news just about everywhere this week about the much vaunted garden villages to be built around the UK  creating 48,000 providing homes for 48,000 families.

Government announcements said that they will not be built onto existing towns or villages but will be:

“Distinct new places with their own community facilities”.

I’m not knocking the idea. A couple of years back I did a training course for the council in Letchworth Garden City and was much impressed by the leafy, relaxed streets but then it’s had over 100 years to grow into itself and develop its own community and feel.

The trouble with completely designed new living spaces is the often the airbrushed sterility in evidence before the community develops.

I have friends living in one such village in Somerset called Cotford St Luke but known by my friends as ‘Stepford St Luke’, because of the strained “Stepford wives” feel to the place. No rough or human spaces, just people occupying and using the buildings in the way the architect designed it.

A bit safe, a bit sterile, a bit ‘not me’.

The whackiest decision

Meanwhile in the land of the mad, Nearly Legal brought to our attention one of the whackiest decisions I have seen for a while  a homelessness case but I’m sure any readers here will be amazed at the facts.

Westminster council picked up an applicant, known only as CM (would that Westminster could have remained similarly anonymous) was deemed to be not homeless because she had accommodation she could stay at with her grown up children in India.

Nothing particularly shocking there, a quite routine decision, except that she had been living in the UK for the past 16 years and hadn’t seen her children since 1986. A fact that the council didn’t investigate.

There is more to the case than this amusing sidebar I have highlighted here but it revolves around the law that requires the council to investigate an applicant’s story not for the applicant to prove it, a requirement that to my mind has always left the system open to abuse BUT, not for this newsround, one for arguments down the pub.

A nice story for 2017

And a nice story to begin 2017 with  Reported in the Telegraph, the tale of rough sleeper Gary in Liverpool who found a dry cleaned suit left in a phone box and tracked the owner to return it.  The owner, Darren Galvin used social media to raise a couple of grand and managed to help Gary get not only a flat but a job as well.

A heart warming tale before 2017 kicks in and we are back to the prospect of the world being run by an arrogant shortarse and a psychopath who thinks that running the most powerful country in the world can be done through Twitter.

What made me smile.

Andy Murray becoming sports personality of the year. I thought a prerequisite for being ‘Sports personality’ meant you actually had to have one. He makes Jose Mourinho look charming and that really is going some.

Also my new year’s resolution, which has nothing to do with getting fit or alcohol free but in simply doing less.  One of the curses that most self-employed people know is saying yes to everything while its there in case next month it isn’t. This is the fastest route to the graveyard I’ve decided and I want to bring the Pareto Principle into my life.  The 80/20 rule of law so much in evidence.

Last year and for most of my life to be honest, I’ve given 80% effort for 20% return. The trick is to reverse this calculation and get 80% return for 20% effort.

How hard can it be?

More dog walking, more cooking, more reading, more watching films and less arguing for a living, even if it means I have less money.

See ya next week.

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Ben Reeve Lewis Friday Newsround #278


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