Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Scally In The Bin Room

In Dovecot Towers the other day, I found a scallie in the bin room. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, but was slumped on the floor, drinking supermarket cooking lager. The bin room has grates instead of windows to let fresh air circulate; he must have been freezing. He was of course wearing his hoody, and dressed from head to toe in black, but seemed extremely embarrassed. The main door has been broken for two months now, and he might have wandered in. He might even live here.

Recently, I have noticed a lot of scallies hereabout. Landlords have entrenched ideas about who makes the ideal rent payer, and scallies are at the bottom of that list, especially unemployed examples. Current economic turmoil is challenging the stereotypes long treasured by landlords who - since they won’t actually live in the flats themselves- select a mirror image to dwell in their investment. Even being employed isn’t enough; the perfect tenants are established professionals, non-smokers, compulsive cleaners, all obsessive about paying rent on time. Letting agents even check your fingernails.

When I first moved in, I half expected to look around at five thirty and watch a battalion of bowler-hatted city types making their way home to Dovecot Towers. But most solicitors, accountants and internet millionaires with psychological cleaning problems have property of their own, forcing landlords to let go of their desires and accept that ordinary people had better move in pronto if they wish to avoid repossession and ruin. These replacements may or may not have jobs, as long as they pay the rent and behave themselves, then everyone is happy.

I used to live in Glasgow. Sartorially speaking, the Glaswegian equivalents of scallies - Neds - are the extreme opposite to their counterparts in North West England. Many Neds dress entirely in white, and pride themselves on their pristine, deceptively virginal clothing, whereas scallies dress completely in black (allegedly copied from criminals who wear black to stop police identifying them from their dress). If Neds and Scallies ever met, a nuclear event would ensue, and I fear the world would end. Incidentally, the word Ned was originally thought to derive from Non Educated Delinquent, until a Ned wrote to a Glasgow paper, pointing out that the grammatically correct phrase is actually Un Educated Delinquent, which would have made them Ueds.

‘Gentrification’ is a pious, snide, and snobby term, but increased rents were forcing established residents away from districts bordering the desirable Merchant City. Around Dovecot Towers, similar traffic is in reverse. As has been documented on rentergirl many times previously, there are too many empty flats, all scrabbling for the ‘good’ tenants. It seems that reality is enveloping these gated communities for students just passing through, or accountants on six month contracts, who move in with a wheelie bag and head home at weekends, or those of us destined to stay for a while. Dovecot Towers is being repopulated.


Anonymous said...

Did you see Panorama on Monday 4 February?

Panorama gave examples of the 'gifted deposit' sales trick - a developer negotiates the sale of a 200K flat with a punter offering to pay the punter's 15% deposit in exchange for a timely exchange. The punter (buying to let) gets an 85% mortgage. Result- Land Registry price 200K, price to punter 170K, effective buy-to-let mortgage 100% and no cash up front from the punter is required.

When the house of cards collapses the punter still owes the lender 170K. The house is repossessed and sold (in the Panorama example) for 75K. Result - the punter has no house and still owes the lender 95K. Very bad for both lender and punter. Tough luck also on the early birds suckered into paying the full price in a "rising market".

I am amazed that the law permits all this. How come that the lender can enforce a fire sale at such a ridiculous price? what about the liability of the surveyor? - common sense suggests a maximum loss of say 30% beyond which the lender in repossession is selling recklessly.

The spirit of Dovecot Towers seems to be alive and well and living in the south-east. According to Panorama, one enterprising 'owner' by the gifted deposit route set up a fraudulent bank in a flat. Someone else opened a brothel.

Isn't capitalism wonderful? Who said that the spirit of enterprise is dead?

7 February 2008

RenterGirl said...

Yes, I saw it Dave. When I say there's going to be a crash, I know landlords lured in by a the promise of quick return and in a precarious financial position will lose everything. However, in that programme no mention was made of the tenants, who will have been evicted when their landlord goes under. That's why I concentrate on tenants. And rents have been 'stabilising' across the country, with landlords having pound signs whirling in their eyes, when the returns should be expected over years from rises in equity, not from the coining it in from excessive rent. And there are many outposts of Dovecot Towers, as you have noticed. There's a housing shortage, and the government trumpets its policy of building new homes, Shelter has a campaign for new homes. But: nobody seems to ask: what kind of home should they build? I sometimes wonder if people think this blog is fiction. It is fact. That is scary.
Thanks for reading