I was ill – I caught a debilitating disease for which the medical term is Domii Pauci – my G.P. identified the problem and got me an appointment with a specialist who had devoted his life to curing people with this complaint. I prepared a wet fish, and finally the day came for my appointment and I marched into his surgery and announced:
“You bloodsucking leech! How can you live off the misery of your patients! How dare you sit in your comfortable surgery, taking taxpayers money? I am going to make sure that you never practise medicine again! Then I hit him round the face with a wet fish. I don’t think we will see HIM in surgery again!
At least that was the message that I got from today’s Independent in their story:
It’s a great story with a lousy message.
Yes there is a problem, especially in London: a modest two-bedroom place in London’s Zone 2 – a standard monthly rent is indeed £800, even £900. The Independent reports hundreds of furious Londoners bombarding with their renting horror stories. One had a 35 per cent rent hike imposed on them at Christmas; another was forced to desert their Stockwell flat after a 40 per cent increase. “My tiny flat in the East End went up by £200 a month for the next occupants when I left”. Clearly the patient is sick, sick with Domii Pauci – a housing shortage.
The Independent’s solution is the wet fish: “Private landlords can do as they please, of course. Having a roof over your head is a basic human requirement and, when there is a lack of houses to go around, it is a need that can be exploited. A landlord knows that, if their tenants don’t like an outrageous rent hike, their only option is to put themselves back at the mercy of the ever more pricey private renting market. According to Shelter, annual rents in inner London went up by 7 per cent last year – or just under £1,000 for a two-bedroom house. When people’s wages are flat-lining, that’s a big hit.”
As a Landlord of some 20 years I have seen this coming, indeed it’s why I am a Landlord. The strange thing is that the Government hasn’t seen it coming, and still doesn’t understand why it is happening, and getting worse. The fixed costs of being a Landlord are increasing exponentially – Pimlico Flats has had to take on an employee solely for the purpose of administering deposits, council tax, utilities. Computerisation has enabled big corporations like Westminster City Council to remove thinking from their activities and leave automated mailshots. New regulations require building work to prevent such things as “death by only having one lock” ……. again, many of the new initiatives are good, and contribute to tenants well being, but some don’t. And all carry a cost, and at the end of the day the tenant bears that cost, not government, or the landlord.
It’s time for Government and Shelter to examine what leads to higher rents, and what leads to lower rents, and to act accordingly.
Meantime don’t be surprised if Landlords leave the Planet saying thanks for all the fish.