Friday, October 24, 2008

Not a post at all.

I haven't posted for a while.  This is because I am writing such a wildly boring essay I have nothing to say.  About anything.

I wanted to write something about the government wanting to be able to look at everything ever written on facebook for reduction-of-terrorism purposes, and link it to the redefinition of terrorism under one of the criminal justice or terrorism acts.  But I was too tired.

I could tell you about work and my performance review and how coaching has improved my life no end.

I've thought about writing some more about housing law and how much I like it, or the complexities of preparing for Matt's forthcoming 30th birthday.  Or the joy of our neighbours moving out and leaving us in peace, quiet and parking space.

And of course I always want to tell you all about Jake, and how he's sitting up now, and just how awesome he really is.

But no, my brain has been turned to mush by Continuous Improvement as Applied to Lettings and Allocations.

So I have nothing to say.

Friday, October 10, 2008

'People like me'

As a housing professional* I was interested to read the tenancy agreement a friend is using to let his house.  Anyone who has rented privately will have seen this sort of thing - 2 sides of A4 explaining that you have to pay the rent and look after the property, and leave if you're asked properly.  I explained that social landlords have slightly weightier agreements - ours cover everything from rent to gardens to car repair to neighbour nuisance to who gets your tenancy if you die.  I use my tenancy agreement to tell tenants to cut their lawns.  "I hate people like you," another friend muttered.

Ah yes, people like me.  Landlords do not always have a good reputation** and this is sometimes deserved.  And, admittedly, there is really potential for being a complete bastard*** in this job - housing law is so complicated that power rests squarely with landlords unless tenants get good advice.  Landlords tend to start with the power anyway, being the ones with houses to provide.  So, being a 'person like me' doesn't always feel pleasant.

But just what is it that I do?  What social benefit do I provide?  Well, generally, I help to provide people with somewhere to live.  I explain the rules to them.  When people have problems caused by their neighbours, I do what I can to resolve those problems.  When people have problems with us, I try to help them resolve those problems - we can't always do everything people want, but I find that people are happier sometimes if you can explain why.  

When people are in crisis - when their relationship is breaking down, for example - I help them to know what we can do to help.  I go to meetings designed to protect small children who are being abused or neglected by their family.  I intervene and support people when they are being harassed or suffering domestic abuse.  I listen to all sorts of horrible stories.

Today I spent a considerable amount of time talking to a tenant who is due in court next week for possession proceedings.  Now, hopefully, he will come in and get his tenancy issues sorted and I've also arranged for some support to enable him to sustain his tenancy.  If he is still in his flat on Thursday I will feel some sense of satisfaction.

I don't like all of my tenants.  Some of them are unpleasant people to deal with.  But I genuinely care about my tenants being well and happy in their homes.  I try really hard to make them happy when I can and be honest when I can't.  I know I've had a positive impact on people's lives.

Which is more than you can say for hedge fund managers, for example...

*yes really, that is how I describe myself.
** try googling "evil landlord"
*** I learnt this at uni on Wednesday - Crodon LBC v Buston and Triance (1992) - a secure tenant is told by a lawyer that she can sign her tenancy over to her son, so she does and moves out.  Her son takes the legal document into the council offices.  They say assignments have to be evidenced by a deed.  She goes away and gets a deed done, but the council point out that, by moving out of the property and not intending to return (evidenced by the original document) she's lost her secure status so no longer has the right to assign.