Real estate PR companies keep sending me reasons to build a guillotine…

…obviously I won’t but that’s down to lack of technique rather than willing.*

Would Robespierre have used Medium? There’s probably some guy wondering this on LinkedIn right now, but that’s not our question for today.

Instead, ours is this:

Why does a PR company that only represents landlords and other parasitical elements in the broken housing system keep sending me press releases?

If they’d even taken a cursory look at my Twitter account they would see that my policy on landlords is generally not positive. Note to landlords that I’ve actually had or have currently: You personally have been fine. This is about… the system. Oh no! How Marxist.

The latest bulletin from this particular PR is a lacrymose dispatch from a lettings and estate agent firm — Benham and Reeves (there’s your plug… I hate it) — which is complaining that student rental demand is going to drop in London as it become less appealing to young people due to the whole, you know, pandemic thing.

Stastitics tossed into the release like bacon into a salad that has no real right to call itself a salad include “16% of the UK’s university students live in London” and “32% of the capital’s students comes from overseas”. Let’s assume these ‘facts’ are true because why not trust a PR company employed by landlords who are moaning about how hard life is for them while people die.

Further facts stated by the press release — and written as if there’s absolutely nothing horrible about them:

The average London student pays £702 a month in rent, meaning those on a three-year course will pay out £8,424 a year, totalling more than £25,000 throughout their course. This means the capital’s student body brings in nearly £271m to London’s rental market in rent each month, with international students accounting for £85.6m of it.

… or, expressed another way, students are grotesquely exploited in London and foreign students are especially exploited.

But wait! Band news for what Ned Flanders would call the Landlordorinos, because…

…with COVID-19 causing travel restrictions and broader health implications for universities, it’s predicted that the number of students heading to London this term will drop by as much as -24%. That’s a loss of over £65m a month for the London student rental sector.

Shit! Individual landlords will have to stop relying on students as a slot machine that never stops paying out and huge landlord companies will have to reckon with the reality that their rat-run accommodation buildings, built like experimental mazes for mice who just want to fuck each other and pretend that they are cool, are not fit for purpose now we once again think that having air in your apartment is a reasonable demand.

Don’t worry though, because the PR for the landlords — like being a carnival barker for a circus where the only act is a man with a meat grinder turning dead elephants into sausages — has good news for the exploiters. They’ve determined the areas where you can still exploit students in London:

According to the research by Benham and Reeves, the number of student-specific rental properties that have already been snapped up by students sits at 22% of all student-specific properties listed on the rental market.

However, in Merton, this ratio is far higher, with 80% of all student accommodation already let agreed.

Bromley (75%), Bexley (61%), Barking and Dagenham (60%), Hounslow (53%), Harrow (53%) and Redbridge (50%) are also seeing high levels of current student demand for rental properties.

Even in more expensive markets such as Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington and Camden, student rental demand is sitting at 19% to 25%.

Hooray! Hooray! Landlords are ruining those areas where people of all kinds need to live. Hooray! Hooray! Many people born in those areas will have to move further and further out until they live in tiny boxes rooms in Zone Q (PS. Zone Q does not exist).

The does-not-at-all-sound-like-a-Flash-Gordon-villain director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, explains:

There is currently an evident decline in the level of rental demand from students than we might otherwise expect at this time of year. This has, of course, been driven by a lower number of international students looking for properties due to the travel restrictions and other hurdles that the current pandemic has presented.

However, while predictions of student rental market losses are rather eye-watering, to say the least, we don’t believe this will be an issue that plagues the market for long.

Many current students are beginning their studies in a virtual capacity until such time they can make a move to London, and once they do, we should see a further influx of demand for suitable student lets.

That sound you hear is Marc rubbing his hands at the prospect, then rubbing his thighs, then literally bursting into flames with excitement.

Not only that but he goes on to tell on himself about how his company and others specifically ensure that Chinese students are charged over the odds for the places they rent:

We regularly have students from China and other areas of Asia renting at well above the average in their chosen areas to ensure they secure the best property they can while studying.

“Hey Google! How easy is it to build a guillotine?”

I hope the PR company includes this one in their coverage report.

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*Note to the satire challenged: I don’t advocate hurting anyone ever. The guillotine here would slice apart current housing policy and sew on a new head full of policies that help everyone.

Writer, editor and internet arguer.

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