Ben Reeve Lewis at 2012 The Property Investor ShowMake Text Bigger
A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur – or if you prefer, A Tenancy Relations Officer at a Property Investor’s Show.
Around 120 years ago Mark Twain wrote the classic fish out of water tale about a modern American transplanted to mediaeval Britain. Today I participated in my own version by delivering a presentation at the property investor’s Show at the Excel Arena in London’s Docklands.
Mark Alexander suggested to Nick Clark, the show’s organiser that I might be an interesting, left-field bet. Someone whose job it is to prosecute landlords for harassment and illegal eviction, presenting to a bunch of people for whom I am the anti-Christ.
To be honest I was crapping myself beforehand. Frazzy and even my ex-partner were sending supportive text messages. The latter of whom said “Well if it all goes tits up at least you will have a great anecdote”.
As a housing law trainer I am well used to difficult audiences. Mainly council staff who don’t want to be on the course but who have been told they have to attend by their manager. In housing land the first job of any trainer is to win over the cynical and manage the people who habitually try to derail the course with personal agendas based on office politics and gripes that I have no previous knowledge of.
I thought I would be up against the same resistance at the Excel. I presumed that the only reason that landlords would turn up for my presentation was to take out their frustration at the treatment they had received from their own councils.
I’m tough, I can take it. Although I admit I had a large Jack Daniels before taking to the podium.
Readers? I had a blast. Everyone in my room were wonderful. They were really keen and eager to learn about a little bit of housing law and the reasons why councils make the decisions that they do. Despite my fears of being an alien punch bag they mad me feel very welcome.
I wish that Shelter could have been in the room with me. There wasn’t a rogue among them, just the mainstay of landlords that I have come to know. Decent people who want to know more about their profession and try to do the best they can in their chosen field.
In the morning before I went, I had to deal with a disturbing problem of a woman and her pregnant daughter being intimidated and threatened by her landlord and his brother and father who arrived late last night, assaulted the pregnant girl and threatened to kill the mum.
In this Shelter are right. These are the rogues but it is easy to forget, when you deal with this stuff day after day that they are really the freaks. The exceptions.
Most landlords are like my audience today we should be spending our time and energy supporting and advising them.
I truly believe that if we can develop working relationships with our landlord community, the freaks will be marginalised and we can put them out of business by professionalising the PRS in partnership with the landlords.
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