The first task I was given on my appointment to the newly created role of Private Rented Sector Access Scheme Co-ordinator for the NextDoor Project was to think of a job title which did not require yogi like control of the breath and an ability to enunciate one’s vowels that would have impressed Professor Higgins!
So I address you now as Tenancy Support Officer; prosaic, does what it says on the tin, but elegant in its simplicity. (I should own up here and admit it was not, alas, my formulation, but Joanna, our Chief Executive).
“Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted”, Field Marshall Montgomery is supposed to have said, and with this in mind NextDoor Project manager Romin Sutherland and I agreed that I should make a number of exploratory forays into areas where we felt there might be a reasonable supply of affordable properties to let.
The old soldiers maxim has proved a fruitful strategy, every area I have visited so far has had ‘The Shop’ ( generally a newsagents), whose window will be plastered with scores of small ads; handwritten on cards, scrawled illegibly on scraps of paper, occasionally printed. These I faithfully copy down into a notebook, and painstakingly call. From this humble resource contacts are made, meetings arranged, networks built. It is time consuming and relentless, a sturdy pair of shoes and a sharp pair of eyes the vital tools of the trade.
Each outing has yielded serendipitous encounters; in Walthamstow the purchase of a bottle of water led to a chance meeting with a landlord who has 150 properties, in Leytonstone a gentleman bicycling round the world was the unlikely catalyst which led to the unearthing of another great contact.
Beginners Luck? Certainly. Psycho-Geography? I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds cutting- edge and cool, so I’ll allow it!