Ten years. Ten whole years. That is how long this site has been in existence. Yet still we stagger on, despite bits falling off and the east wing giving way.
Variously heralded as ‘irreverent, comprehensive and up to date’ by the Judicial Training Manual and, in court before a judge as ‘an unreliable blog’ (by a Lamb Chambers barrister, 2012 call – we know who you are and don’t think that we’ll forget it), NL has carved out a bit of a corner for housing law on this part of the internet. Here are some figures from 2007 on…
We are averaging 1,797 per day page views in 2016 (including weekends, when most of you are doing something else much more enjoyable and when we get to write most of the posts). For a specialist housing law blog, that is quite impressive.
While we generally write – and unapologetically so – for a specialist audience of housing lawyers and professionals, we have a rapidly growing lay audience of landlords, agents and tenants. This is a good thing, and something we will have in mind in the future, but to be honest, we will continue to be writing with a specialist audience in mind.
Various ideas for developing NL have come and gone – I toyed with video updates, for instance, but, well, meh – but we have kept the updates going, added the PDF archives of key categories, and branched out into flowcharts. The archive of bedroom tax cases is unique, and we have county court and even high court cases not reported elsewhere (though of course our reports are ‘unreliable’ – Lamb Chambers, 2012 call). We have been quoted and referenced in quite a few House of Commons Library briefing notes now, which I think means we are a sort of (apparently unreliable) authority.
What is more, I haven’t received a wholly misguided defamation pre-action protocol letter from a disgruntled litigant in person or struck off solicitor in all of the last year, which is on the whole a good thing, given that I was getting a collection of them.
It has to be said that the last year was something special – through the excellent efforts of Karen Buck MP, there was in effect an NL bill in Parliament – the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Bill – on which a couple of us collaborated. And that was fascinating, albeit a rollercoaster, as the bill, then the identical amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill, waxed and waned in Parliamentary fortunes. I learnt a lot. A bit painfully.
And for the future? I really don’t know. It feels as if we have reached a point where things need to be formalised a bit. We continue to work on the basis of free, volunteered efforts, but that is increasingly hard as we are all increasingly busy. We can keep on, albeit falteringly, on that basis. But we are, like it or not, something of an institution now, at least amongst housing lawyers, and, pompous though it does sound, I’m increasingly thinking about succession planning and a longer term plan for the site.
Still, in the mysteriously ongoing absence of anyone offering us large sums of money for NL, this is entirely hypothetical…
That all said, we remain committed to not turning NL into a paying thing by other means, whether by subscription, advertising or members limited material. Our costs are only a few hundred quid a year for domains and email update services, thanks to the extremely generous support of Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law in providing our web hosting for free.
I think the next year will be an interesting one for the site. We shall see. Of course, it looks like being a disastrous year for housing and for housing law, in so many ways, but that in itself will keep us busy.
10 years. 10 years. And just for me alone, some 1410 posts. I think that explains where my life went.
Happy anniversary to us. On we unreliably go.