10:27 AM, 29th April 2016, About 5 years ago 67
Our legal team from Cotswold Barristers and Michael Ashcroft QC were superb at The Court of Appeal. Three judges sat on the panel to hear our case, two Lords Justices of Appeal and one Lady Justice, the most eminent being the Rt Hon Lord Justice Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division and third most senior Judge in the UK
For those who don’t know, with the backing of over 400 other landlords I took up a legal battle with the West Bromwich Mortgage Company.
The background to the case is that the mortgage lender provided me with a fixed rate mortgage which reverted after an initial fixed rate period to a tracker rate mortgage at bank base rate plus 1.99% to the term end. The loan term was 25 years.
In September 2013, along with thousands of other borrowers who had similar mortgages, I received a letter stating that my mortgage lender was varying my interest rate despite there being no change to the base rate. As if that wasn’t enough to make me furious, their letter carried a veiled threat, stating they had to increase the rate for their own commercial purposes, failing which they would have to consider calling in the loan. Note that my loan wasn’t and has never been in default.
Thankfully, enough other landlords were equally furious and we found each other via Property118. Without their financial support I would not have been able to mount a legal battle of this nature.
The rate rise only affected me to the tune of just over £100 a month but that wasn’t the point. It was about the principle.
Over £500,000 has been raised to fight this case!
We knew the West Brom would play dirty and do all they could to run up legal bills in the hope that we would drop our case. Before this move the Building Society was losing millions every year. This rate rise secured their solvency and returned their failing business back into a profitable position.
Needless to say, they underestimated our resolve.
We should have a verdict in a few weeks time, we are not sure exactly when.
Win or lose, I am incredibly proud that landlords were able to come together to show the world that big financial institutions must not assume that just because they have deeper pockets than their customers they are always in the right. Our group has achieved something that the landlord associations refused to entertain. We fought back!
Even if the Appeal Court Judges were to decide that technically the West Brom contract is how the West Brom lawyers perceive it, this case has shown the world the true colours of this building society. If the lender had made it clear to any of the affected borrowers that their contracts were intended to enable them to vary tracker mortgage margins, or to call in a 25 year loan with just 30 days notice without it being in default, I very much doubt that any borrower, or indeed broker, would have given them their business.
All who attended the Appeal today are as confident as I am that justice will prevail. The prior preparation and planning and the level of detail and the commitment to research undertaken by the team at Cotswold Barristers was admirably extensive and could not have been better presented by Michael Ashcroft QC.
We all felt the three Appeal Judges were able to see through the ludicrous excuses made by the mortgage lender and the unfairness of what they’ve done. It could of course simply be that the judges were “playing to the gallery” but their cutting remarks to the QC representing West Brom seemed very genuine to all in the room.
The Court room was packed!
We live in hope that landlords will continue to come together and fight injustice, whether that comes from mortgage lenders, government policy or elsewhere.
The landlords associations continually fail to represent landlords when it really counts, this case is just one example, there have been far too many others. It is down to all is to fight injustices, of which there are many, #tenanttax being the hot topic of late.
Please share this message with as many landlords as you know.
If we do win this case, we would like to think it will inspire other landlords to unite, raise funds and fight similar cases where we know we are in the right.
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