Ms Bance

Sadly, terribly, terribly confused. So confused in fact that she took the post down, although of course it still exists in RSS streams.

There aren’t many prejudices I’ll admit to, but I will admit to a strong dislike, at times escalating to hatred, of private landlords and letting agents. Not the ordinary family who lets out a room, mind you – though I am dismayed when people who I thought had reasonably benign politics reveal themselves to be landlords. Particularly in high-cost housing areas like Oxford and London the buying up of homes as investments and the inevitable charging of extortionate rents are massive drivers of housing poverty and inequality; how anyone with any conscience can do it and be complicit in the biggest driver of inquality between rich and poor and between young and old in the UK today, I don’t know.

So, I detest landlords. Having moved several times in the last ten years, I’ve met quite a few, and as a councillor I’ve come into contact with a few more. I have recently had cause to look at flats in Oxford again (sigh). Most of the ones I have seen (and I’ve seen twenty or so) have one or more of the following features:

a. No cooker – “you’ll manage with a couple of rings and microwave, won’t you?”
b. No grouting between tiles (how do they stay on the wall?!)
c. A living room that’s actually a corridor
d. Damp looming balefully from the corner of the bedroom
e. Mouldy carpet
f. Enough stale cigarette smoke to develop immediate-onset asthma
g. Three different types of woodchip on one wall, peeling gently

Having walked around another badly-converted depressing draughty half-house, you get back to the hallway and the landlord or agent says cheerfully “So, that’ll be £650 / £675 / £700 / £750 / £800 per month, then, not including bills of course”. I’ve met lots of agents, too, with their refrain “that’ll be £150 non-returnable to stop us showing the place to anyone else, and £50 for keys, and £60 to prepare a tenancy agreement, and £60 to check you out when you leave, oh and we need a cheeky £2000 deposit…”

It really makes you think what little power us poor sods needing to rent somewhere to live have, when agents and landlords know that they can mess us about with such sheer impunity.

What she\’s really complaining about of course is a shortage of private landlords. That\’s why the prices are so high, the agents so extortionate and the goods supplied so shoddy.

Antonia Bance is employed full-time by Oxfam as their Policy and Communications Manager for its UK Poverty Programme, known as UKPP.

Looks like we\’ll be geting some useful policy ideas out of Oxfam then, eh?

15 comments on “Ms Bance

  1. We could speculate on what Ms Bance might make of this:

    ” . . Germany is unusual in providing much social rented housing through private sector landlords. . . ”
    http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/housing/232.asp

    The marked difference in social housing policy after WW2 in Germany compared with Britain is that in Britain this was taken to be a primary responsibility of the public sector whereas in Germany the massive task of housing reconstruction was mostly left to the private sector. The outcome:

    “Owner occupation in the United Kingdom, at 71 per cent, is just above the average for all EU countries. In 2000 the highest rates of owner occupation in the EU were in Spain, Greece and Ireland, at over 80 per cent. Germany had the lowest level of owner occupation at just over 40 per cent. In all EU countries owner occupiers were more likely to live in a house than a flat. On average, 80 per cent of those living in a house in the EU were owner occupiers compared with only 38 per cent of those living in a flat.”
    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=7326

  2. “No grouting between tiles (how do they stay on the wall?!)”

    WTF?!? Anyone this ignorant and lacking in imagination is not qualified to talk about housing. I mean surely if these places are that bad, she’ll have seen a tile missing somewhere and the ridges of tile adhesive where it once was.

  3. Oxford is not cheap by any means, but for £800 pcm you can easily get a much better place than she describes.

    I’m Antonia Bance. I live in Oxford, and represent Rose Hill and Iffley ward on Oxford city council

    Ah… that explains it. Iffley is mostly family homes, and Rose Hill is a dump. She needs to move to a different part of the city.

  4. A good moment, this, to remind you of the conversation I once overheard in Oxford, amongst Oxfam execs. It consisted of cruel mocking of the volunteers who do so much unpaid work for the charity.

  5. Tim, Oxford already has about a 50% bigger private rented market than the national average. And, with pressure from students in particular who, because they are sharing, can provide a higher yield for if anything less discerning demands, it is a hugely landlords’ market. The market is also dominated by a few large private landlords like this (he was basically done for immigration fraud whilst his many more local tenants were too scared to speak out against him for his bully tactics against them and the City Council had compromised themsleves by funding his expansion through contracting him for short term homeless accommodation).

    Frankly they make Van Hoogstraten and Rachman look like saints. The City Council is trying to react, but there are better answers.

  6. Bloody brilliant, Tim. I report an overheard conversation, and your feral left margin renders my name as “earieme”.

  7. I’m a landlord.

    I despise all tenants for the lying, destructive, dirty, lazy, insolvent, thieving cunts they are.

    Hey Bance, you stupid cunt, how did all those flats get into that condition? You and your tenant bumbuddies trashed them, dintcha?

  8. I live in the very ward in Oxford that Bance represents, and share a house with some students. Our landlady lives in Pakistan and the property is administered by some local estate agents, who frankly are a bunch of crooks. The only repair they have deigned to make in the house is replacing our refridgerator – the old one had lost all of its seals and we couldn’t use it, so we had no way to refridgerate or freeze food for about 6 months. Everything else that doesn’t work – kitchen cold tap, toilet flush, several radiators – they won’t touch.

    The house I lived in previously was administered by a private landlord, who, although he diligently made repairs, refuses to return my security deposit on the grounds that he had trouble re-renting the property after my lease ended, despite the fact that he had over 3 months’ notice and the house was in better condition when I left than when I moved in.

    Part of the problem in this country is not that landlords, or tenants, are bastards, but that the laws governing their behaviour are basically unenforced. There is no protection for tenants against rapacious landlords (what student, or relatively poor person for that matter, can afford to take one to court?), and no protection for landlords against destructive tenants (especially students and relatively poor people, who rarely stay in one town for long).

  9. Part of the problem in this country is not that landlords, or tenants, are bastards, but that the laws governing their behaviour are basically unenforced. There is no protection for tenants against rapacious landlords (what student, or relatively poor person for that matter, can afford to take one to court?), and no protection for landlords against destructive tenants (especially students and relatively poor people, who rarely stay in one town for long).

    The main problem is that people like you just shut up and take it, instead of moving out, and telling everyone you know about your lousy landlord. And how about suing your previous landlord? Small claims is dead easy, you can even do it online. If you wait for someone to help you, then yes, you will be taken advantage of. The laws are unenforced because you need to do the enforcing! If you can’t be arsed, why should anyone else?

  10. Antonia Bance is confused about many, many things. Her arguments about the gender pay gap in Britain are as muddled as her views on housing. Here’s Councillor Bance on her blog a few days ago on the gender pay gap: “The pay gap in this country means that women might as well stop getting paid for the year on 30 October. Men, of course, go on getting paid for the rest of the year”. Her employer also grumbles about the gender pay gap in the UK: Women still earn less than men, screams Oxfam’s UK Poverty Programme on its website. Is it all that surprising that a muddled and confused charity should be employing a muddled and confused politician to do its policy and communications work? As long as the British public continues not to scrutinise the activities of its High Street charities, Antonia Bance and Oxfam will muddle along at the expense of the British tax payer!

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